3 Ways to Live a Long, Healthy Blue Zone Life

Best selling author Dan Buettner partnering with National Geographic spent more than five years traveling the globe researching the places in the world where higher percentages of people enjoy long, healthy lives.  He identified five areas – which are called “Blue Zones” – where the inhabitants commonly live to 90 or even 100 years, without medication or disabilities.

The five blue zones are:

  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Sardinia, Italy

You’ll notice that Canada is not on this list, but it might be soon.  The latest figures released by Statistics Canada show we now have a record number of centenarians – 10,795 people older than 100, to be exact, more than three times the number it was in 2001.

Most are women (more than 80%) and the highest number live in Ontario (3,762).

Faith, friendship and fruit

So, what did Buettner discover about why the oldest Blue Zone people are living so long?  What’s the secret to longevity and health? 

People always think that advanced medicine, massive amounts of supplements, and expensive modern technology are required, but that just isn’t the case.

The secret is simple – it’s lifestyle.

Related:  Health and Fitness

These people eat a healthy diet, exercise daily, and live a low-stress life that incorporates friends, family, religion, and purpose.  This gift is already in the hands of every one of us.

Take the Blue Zones vitality and longevity test here to see how you rate.

People in Blue Zones eat healthy diets

There’s tons of literature about what constitutes a healthy diet.  It’s one that’s loaded with fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts and low on red meat, sugar, fat, and toxic processed foods. In other words, we should eat more good stuff and cut out the bad stuff.

Buettner goes into more detail, adding red wine, tea, and lots of water, plus fermentation in tofu, sourdough bread and pickled vegetables.

Instead of taking vitamins and other supplements, they get everything they need from nutrient-dense, fibre-rich whole foods mostly grown within 15 kilometres from their homes.

Not surprisingly, Blue Zone people suffer from major diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and cancer either less frequently than North Americans, or not at all.

Exercise is naturally built into their lives

Blue Zone people commonly get their regular exercise from performing their daily activities.  No high-intensity intervals at the fitness centre here.  They walk up hills, work on their land or in their homes often in a slow, relaxed way that’s ongoing throughout the day. This keeps them fit all their lives.

They’re not frail and weak and hunched over walkers.

A happy, low-stress life

Who doesn’t want a life filled with happiness and low on stress?  You get it with strong family ties, good friends, a sense of purpose, plenty of sleep, plus a strong dose of spirituality.  It’s being happy with your place in life.

Those who are constantly angry, resentful and pessimistic end up with harmful effects on their bodies.  Generally, the long-term effects of living this way mean increased severity of heart disease and several other major diseases.

It’s also important to surround yourself with the right people who share your values of health and community.

People don’t want to be put somewhere and forgotten. They want to pursue their hobbies, see friends and have a strong purpose.

The bottom line

So, is it that simple?  The secret to healthy longevity is your lifestyle?  But it is a choice. 

If you are already living the Blue Zone lifestyle, well, good for you.  Keep on doing it.  If not, it’s never too late to start.  Improvements happen quickly, but you can’t take shortcuts.  It requires constant, daily, positive lifestyle choices.

Related:  Positive Aging

If you want to learn more about the blue zones, check out Buettner’s website bluezones.com.

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