Blue Zones - The secret to a longer life?
The concept of Blue zones is probably the most underrated one. Many of us have not even heard of this term before. So what exactly are these blue zones? Around 2004, few explorers discovered five regions in the world, where people had the least health related diseases and lived the longest. These are called the ‘Blue Zones.’ Blue Zone regions are Ikaria, an island in Greece; Okinawa, an island in Japan; the Barbagia region of Sardinia (Italy); Loma Linda, a small city in California, and the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica These “Blue Zone” regions are incredible because the people there live not only longer, but better. Inhabitants of these communities lived happier, healthier and longer lives—up to 100 years old—longer than the rest of the world. One of the key factors was that their environment i.e. physical items, architecture, terrain etc. helps them to make healthy decisions without thinking too much.
The same team of explorers came up with 9 such principles to observe longevity- called the ‘power nine’.
1. Move Naturally.
Moving naturally throughout the day — walking, gardening, doing housework.
Being aware of why you wake up in the morning makes you healthier, happier, and adds up to ‘seven’ years of extra life expectancy.
3. Down Shift.
Stress plays an important role in deteriorating your health. Blue Zone inhabitants have stress-relieving rituals built into their daily routines.
4. 80% Rule.
People in Blue Zones areas stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full and eat their smallest meal in the early evening.
5. Plant Slant.
Beans are the cornerstone of most Blue zone diets. Vegetables, fruit, and whole grains round out the rest of the diet and meat is eaten in small amounts.
6. Wine @ 5.
Moderate but regular consumption of wine is part of the Blue Zone lifestyle.
Being part of a faith-based community adds four to 14 years to life expectancy.
8. Loved Ones First.
Having close and strong family connections is a vital part of the Blue Zones lifestyle.
9. Right Tribe.
The world’s longest lived people have wisely chosen close friends and strong social networks.
The Blue Zones Diet
Diet is an instrumental part of the Blue Zone lifestyle. The Blue Zone diet elucidates the best of the longevity foods to include in your daily meals-
People in four of the five blue zones consume meat, but they do so sparingly, using it as a celebratory food, a small side, or a way to flavour dishes. Research suggests that 30-year-old vegetarian Adventists will likely outlive their meat-eating counterparts by as many as eight years. At the same time, increasing the amount of plant-based foods in your meals has many salutary effects. Beans, greens, yams and sweet potatoes, fruits, nuts, and seeds should all be favoured. Whole grains are OK too. Try a variety of fruits and vegetables; know which ones you like, and keep your kitchen stocked with them.
A small decision such as moving your unhealthy food items out of eyesight or leaving a bowl of apples on your kitchen counter, could be the difference between another 10 pounds of weight gain or loss—or, another 1 year of your life gained or lost.
Blue Zones regions are home to the healthiest and the oldest living people The Diet thus followed is a guideline of what to eat for a healthy, long-lived life. It’s not a short-term fix or a typical ‘diet’ plan you can jump on and off. It serves as an outlook or a lifestyle. Each of these lifestyle factors has been shown to be associated with a longer life. Studies show that incorporation of these principles helps you live a healthier, longer and a happier life.