HOW TO LIVE 100+ QUALITY YEARS – LESSONS FROM THE BLUE ZONES
Centenarians are people who live to, or beyond 100 years, and makeup approximately half a million people in our world today. The number of centenarians is expected to rise to 3.5 million by 2050. People are living longer and many have a high quality of life in their later years. The exciting part about longevity is that only 25% of how long we live is dictated by our genes. The other 75% is determined by our lifestyle and daily choices. What are the lifestyles of people who live to be a ripe old age while enjoying a high quality of life?
Author Dan Buettner, has studied the top five Blue Zones in the world. Blue Zones are regions of the world where people live much longer than the typical age and have a higher than average numbers of centenarians. In his book, “Blue Zones”, Dan examines the commonalities within these five regions that cause people to live active, fulfilling lives into their 90’s and 100’s.
NINE AREAS TO ENHANCE LONGEVITY:
Dan Buettner suggests that these five blue zones have nine areas in common that increase people’s lifespan and quality of living. These nine blue zone secrets are:
MOVE – Make moving and exercise a natural part of your lifestyle.
LESS CALORIES – Watch out for mindless eating. You can cut calories by 20% if you stop eating before your stomach is full.
EAT PLANTS – Slant your diet towards being plant dominant with at least 6 servings of vegetables per day and add nuts to your snacks.
RED WINE – A daily glass or two of these grapes of life have polyphenols that are great for the heart.
PURPOSE – This is why you wake up in the morning. When your life has meaning and you can see the big picture, you will be sharper, and live longer. Having purpose is shown to reduces stress, Alzheimer’s, depression, stroke, and even arthritis.
DOWNSHIFT – Relieve your stress and slow down! Many centenarians keep a Sabbath (one full day each week to relax, worship, and enjoy life with zero work). Keeping a Sabbath, focuses on God, family, and nature, promoting a greater sense of wellbeing and reducing inflammation in the process. Stress causes inflammation and inflammation is responsible for many of our chronic diseases. When you can relax and slow down you will add years to your life.
SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY – Have faith and belong to a spiritual community. Having a spiritual dimension in your life reduces depression, stress, and suicide. It also gives you a higher self-esteem, higher sense of worth and enhances your immune system.
FAMILY – By making family a priority, not only are you part of a loving, supportive group of people, it will sharpen your mental and social skills which play a huge role in longevity.
TRIBE – When you belong to the right tribe, you are surrounding yourself with people who share your Blue Zone values. It is true that we become like those we hang around. Be intentional that you share the same lifestyle and values of those in your tribe.
THE 5 BLUE ZONES AND THEIR LIFESTYLES:
1. SARDINIA, ITALY
Sardinians eat a predominantly diet with a minimal amount of meat.
They drink healthy quantities of goat’s milk which protect against inflammation and inflammatory diseases such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
Sardinians put their family first. Every member of the family is cared for and the grandparents are very involved in daily life.
They walk 5 miles or more every day. This amount of walking has a great effect on cardiovasculatory fitness, muscle and bone strength, and metabolism.
They drink a glass or two of red wine daily. The local of wine of Sardinia is Cannonau, which has 2-3 times the flavonoids (artery scrubbers), as other wines.
Sardinians are known to laugh often with their friends. (Having a sardonic sense of humour originated here). Laughter reduces stress, which in turn can lower cardiovascular disease.
2. OKINAWA, JAPAN
Okinawans embrace their purpose in life and have a reason to get up in the morning. A dynamic part of their culture is having a vital life purpose is known as, “Ikigai.”
Their diet is predominantly plant-based. It includes a large quantity of the bitter vegetable, goya, which is high in anti-oxidants and very powerful in lowering blood sugar.
Gardening is a common practice there and has a threefold effect. Okinawans get their daily physical activity, reduce their stress, and consume plenty of fresh vegetables.
Medicinal gardens are also very common there. Powerful herbs such as ginger, turmeric, and mugwort are a natural part of their diet.
Okinawans eat more soy which has powerful flavonoids that help reduce cancer.
The social networks (or Moai) are very strong in Okinawa. This enhances emotional wellbeing, financial support, and lowers stress.
They enjoy the sunshine, therefore, obtain plenty of vitamin D which is great for strengthening bones and making healthier bodies.
Okinawans stay active, including the traditional form of having meals on the floor. With this tradition, a person must get up and down many times of the day using important muscles for functional movements.
Their sunny disposition and healthy attitude in life are also thought to increase longevity.
3. LOMA LINDA, CALIFORNIA
This Seventh Day Adventist community in California practices a 24-hour Sabbath day of rest. On their weekly day of rest, they focus on family, God, friendship, and nature. This practice allows them to relieve stress, strengthen social networks, and exercise.
Most everyone in this community exercises at least moderately on a daily basis.
This community is rich in social and spiritual connections. People spend time with like-minded friends who are there for support and to build up of their faith.
Loma Lindans also have a strong purpose and live to give something back.
The majority in the community maintain a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index).
Their diet is primarily plant-based, they drink plenty of water, they eat meat in moderation (mostly fish), and snack on nuts.
It is common in this community to eat an early, light dinner. One of their expressions is: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.”
4. NICOYA, COSTA RICA
Nicoyans have a strong sense of purpose and are focused on contributing to the greater good.
They drink great quantities of hard water which also known to have the country’s highest calcium content.
Family is a high cultural value. Centenarians live with their families where they receive support, purpose, and belonging.
Social Networks are very strong here and it is normal to drop in and visit neighbours.
Nicoyans eat a light dinner and have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets.
Everyday chores and physical labour builds exercise into their lifestyle.
In Costa Rica there is plenty of sunshine which gives them natural Vitamin D.
5. IKARIA, GREECE
Ikarians drink plenty of goat’s milk which has high amounts of calcium, potassium, and is excellent for maintaining healthy intestinal flora.
They live in the mountains and maintain their exercise by walking, and gardening.
They follow the Mediterranean diet which consists primarily of olive oil, vegetables, fruits, beans, potatoes, whole grains, and moderate amounts of meat.
Ikarians take Naps on a regular basis which lowers stress hormones and allows the heart to rest.
They drink plenty of herbal teas.
Family & friends are a huge priority in this culture.
Fasting occasionally is also a part of their culture because of their Greek Orthodox faith.