Blue Zones are the areas in the world where people live the longest, healthiest and happiest. They are also the areas with the highest concentration of centurions, people who live past 100 years of age. This series: BLife Zone is dedicated to helping you live life in the Blue Zones. What habits, customs and lessons from the people who live in the Blue Zones can we incorporate in to our modern day lives to be active, happier and live a longer life.
Dan Buettner and his team of researchers first identified Blue Zones while studying the keys to longevity. They went to places like Sardinia, Italy which has an equal number of women and men centurions with the fraction of diseases that commonly kill people in other parts of the developed world.
Sardinians often walk 5 miles a day tending their flock as they climb rocky hills and bring a lunch of unleavened bread, pecorino cheese and a healthy supply of local Cannonau wine. While living in a big city has nothing in common with a sheep herder in the mountainous region of Sardinia, we can, like Sardinians, add dailey low impact cardio to our lives and wash it down with a healthy glass of red wine. The tannins in red wine are believed to have powerful antioxidant properties that prevent disease and anti-aging properties.
Not a wine drinker? Then how about awamori, a traditional sake like drink common in Okinawa, another Blue Zone. Okinawa has the nickname “Island of the immortals” with many people like Jiruouemon Kimura, a supercentarion who lived to the ripe age of 114. Regular consumption of awamori with his “Moai” is said to be one of the reasons Kimura lived so fully to such a ripe age. Moais were originally formed to pool the resources of a village for public projects and take care of the community in times of emergency. But today its social support network and cultural tradition is built for companionship. Moais are like a 2nd family and some moais have lasted for over 90 years!
The weekly gossip and chatter and copious amounts of awamori or tea during a moai has added years of life to many Okinawans. Knowing there is a social safety net with a group of life long friends makes life easier to weather any storm. The social connectedness that is ingrained in Okinawan society is cited as one of the main reasons so many Okinawans are energetic and spry even after 100 years of age.
In the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica the strong sense of community and belonging comes from living with their family. Family gives many Nicoyan centurions a “Plan de vida” a reason and purpose to live. When they are no longer able to work they still contribute to the family by becoming caretakers for their grandchildren. They have a Plan de vida, the sense of purpose helps them to enjoy life, laugh and live stress free while appreciating everything they have around them.
Like most of the people who live in Blue Zones about 95% of their diet is vegetarian. While Okinawans feast on sweet potatoes, Nicoyans' diet of maize and beans are eaten with copious amounts of fresh fruit. The enzymes in raw fruits and vegetables help with digestion and are linked to longevity.
Loma Linda, California the Blue Zone in America and it has community members out living most Americans by a decade or more. It is home to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The teachings of their religion encourage vegetarianism, regular exercise, drinking 5-6 glasses of water every day and eating nuts at least 5 times a week.
So what do you think? Do you want to live a long and happy life? Then why not learn lessons from the people who live the longest? Ready to create your life in the Blue Zone, a BLife Zone of your own?
More information on BLife Zone here.