We live in a country that has pretty clean water, plenty of food to eat and fairly decent air to breathe. In most parts of our country there are many trees to purify the air and new measures are being taken to create less pollution in the soil, water and air. Health care is accessible, health information is also available so, one would think we could easily live to be 100 in this country. Other countries have several pockets where people actually live beyond 100 and they aren’t set up nearly as well as our country. So, why is our life expectancy over 20 years less than many of those countries? Through the years those pockets of people have been researched carefully and thoroughly. Those pockets have become known as Blue Zones. Although we don’t know how that phrase originated, we do know there is a common thread of similarity between all of them. We also know that there is only one Blue Zone in the United States. It is in Loma Linda California. Other countries that have blue zones include: Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; and Nicoya, Costa Rica.
What Makes a Blue Zone?In 2004, Dan Buettner teamed up with National Geographic and a group of dieticians, geneticists, anthropologists and historians who went to these blue zones to find out why people lived so long and lived so happily. They came up with 9 lessons that all of those blue zones had in common:
- Move naturally. Don’t run marathons or pump lots of iron. Just plant and maintain a garden, take long walks daily, ride a bicycle, play with your grandchildren, and walk while talking on the phone. In other words, just keep moving.
- Know your purpose. Have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
- Kick back. Find ways to reduce and remove stress. Whether it is through prayer, listening to music, reading a good book, taking a nap, or enjoying time with your friends and family.
- Eat less. Stop eating when you are 80% full.
- If you drink wine, make it without sulfites or nitrates. Of all of the blue zones, only the Seventh Day Adventists didn’t drink one or two glasses each day. All of the other blue zones had quality wine each day. But not much!
- Eat less meat. Beans are a cornerstone of most centenarian’s diet.
- Have faith. Denominations don’t seem to matter, but attending a faith-based service 4 times a month does.
- Power of love. Put families first including committing to a partner and keep aging parents and grandparents nearby.
- Stay social. Build a social network that builds healthy behaviors.
- They only consume sugar from fruits and vegetables.
- They snack on nuts, seeds and fruits.
- They never eat processed foods.
- They rarely eat meat.