In an earlier article, we talked about five locations on planet earth, referred to as “Blue Zones,” where people happen to live much longer than average: Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; the Seventh Day Adventists of Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica and Icaria, Greece.
Plus, we told you about the remarkable story of journalist Dan Buettner, who in 2004 joined forces with National Geographic and a team of longevity researchers to identify the places in the world where people live the longest. They then sent in teams to each of these places to find out exactly what the people in these areas had in common that could be contributing to their above average lifespans
They identified nine specific characteristics shared among the five locations and we shared the first four. Today, we will go over the remaining five Blue Zone “secrets” and give you some tips on how to incorporate some (or all!) of them into your own life.
This one is pretty straightforward. People in the Blue Zones get 95 percent of their calories from plants: vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes. They eat beans every day, and these nutritional powerhouses are often the cornerstones of their meals. When they do eat meat (an average of only five times a month), it’s mostly pork with serving sizes no bigger than a deck of cards (3 to 4 ounces.)
The researchers found that people in every Blue Zone (except the Adventists in Loma Linda, California who abstain for religious reasons) drank one to two glasses of red wine daily. They also didn’t drink alone, but enjoyed their wine with friends or family and always with food. Of course, there will be some people who will not be able to implement this one, such as those who are on medications that interact with alcohol, pregnant women and so forth.
Out of the 263 centenarians the researchers interviewed, only five were not part of a faith based community. Denomination does not matter. The research showed that attending a faith-based service four times a month added an astounding 4 to 14 years of life expectancy.
For residents of the Blue Zones, extended family ties are all important. Aging parents or grandparents are kept either in the home or are nearby. For intergenerational households with children in the home, the children’s rates of both illness and death declined as well. Plus, most of the centenarians had committed to a life partner which also adds to life expectancy.
Blue Zone people have “tribes” of people who form a social circle for them that support and encourage healthy living. They were either born into one of these circles or joined one later in life. Healthy social networks extend life expectancy.
So there you have it...the nine Blue Zone secrets to living a long and happy life. Of course it would be ideal if you could implement all nine of these into your everyday routine, but that is obviously not possible for everyone. So go back and make a list of the nine, or print out both of these articles. Look at the factors and decide which ones you could easily implement today.
Maybe that is something as simple as adding more plant based meals to your diet. Or getting out for a walk in the sunshine everyday. Or meeting up with friends or family on Zoom or some other virtual platform, even if you can’t do that in person right now. Form your own Blue Zone and encourage your friends and family to join!