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Do “Blue Zone” Communities Hold the Secrets to Longevity?

Do “Blue Zone” Communities Hold the Secrets to Longevity?

Growing older gracefully and boldly in mind, body, and spirit is something we all hope to do, but is hoping enough?

People living in Blue Zone communities have more centenarians than other populations. How do they do it? Let’s take a look.

What is a “Blue Zone” Community?

Blue Zone communities are regions in the world where people live significantly longer and healthier lives compared to the global average. They are known for their high life expectancy and large population of centenarians.

Where Do I Find Blue Zone Communities?

  1. Ikaria, Greece. Today, Ikarians are almost entirely free of dementia and many of the chronic diseases that plague Americans. And one in three make it to their 90s. A combination of factors explain it including:
    • Exercise mindlessly by just gardening, walking to their neighbor’s house, or doing their own yard work.
    • Eat a Mediterranean-style diet.
    • Consume herbal teas and local herbs.
    • Napping and rest.
    • Fast occasionally… their religious calendar calls for fasting almost half the year.
    • Make family and friends a priority.
    • Goat’s milk over cow’s milk.
  1. Okinawa, Japan. The islands at the southern end of Japan have historically been known for longevity, once called the “Land of Immortals.” Okinawans have less cancer, heart disease and dementia than Americans. Women there live longer than any women on the planet! Their routines include:
    • Embrace an ikigai. Older Okinawans can tell you the reason they get up in the morning. Their purpose-imbued lives give them clear roles of responsibility and feelings of being needed well into their 100s.
    • Rely on a plant-based diet and herbal teas.
    • Stay active. Almost all Okinawan centenarians grow a garden, including a medical garden of herbs.
    • Maintain a moai, the Okinawan tradition of forming secure social networks.
    • Enjoy the sunshine, spending time outside each day.
    • Have a positive attitude. They’re able to let difficult early years remain in the past while they enjoy today’s simple pleasures well into their old age.
  1. Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. This Central American nation isn’t that far from the U.S. geographically, but it is way ahead of us in longevity. The Caribbean nation is economically secure and has excellent health care. But other factors at play are:
    • Have a plan de vida. Centenarians have a strong sense of purpose. They feel needed and want to contribute to a greater good.
    • Drink hard water. Nicoya has the country’s highest calcium content, perhaps explaining the lower rates of heart disease, as well as stronger bones and fewer hip fractures.
    • Keep a focus on family. Centenarians tend to live with their families, and children or grandchildren provide support and a sense of purpose and belonging.
    • Eat an early, light dinner.
    • Keep hard at work… centenarians seem to have enjoyed physical work all of their lives, finding joy in everyday chores.
    • Cultivate strong social networks with friends and family.
    • Regularly take in the sunshine.
  1. Loma Linda, California. A community of about 9,000 Seventh Day Adventists in the Loma Linda area are the core of America’s Blue Zone region. They live as much as a decade longer than the rest of us, and much of their longevity may be attributed to vegetarianism and regular exercise. Plus, Adventists don’t smoke or drink alcohol. They also implement these healthy habits:
    • Find a sanctuary in time, a weekly break from the rigors of daily life. The 24-hour Sabbath provides a time to focus on family, God, camaraderie, and nature. Adventists say this relieves their stress, strengthens social networks, and provides consistent exercise.
    • Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI).
    • Get regular, moderate exercise.
    • Spend time with like-minded friends.
    • Snack on nuts.
    • Giving something back helps in finding a sense of purpose and stave off depression by focusing on helping others.
    • “Well-balanced diet.” They eat meat in moderation.
    • Eat an early, light dinner.
    • Drink plenty of water.

The Piece of Resistance…

  1. Sardinia, Italy. A cluster of villages in a kidney-shaped region on this island make up the first Blue Zone region ever identified. Researchers discovered a rare genetic quirk carried by its inhabitants.
    • The M26 marker is linked to exceptional longevity, and due to geographic isolation, the genes of the residents in this area of Sardinia have remained mostly undiluted. The result? Nearly 10 times more centenarians per capita than the U.S.
    • Even more importantly, residents of this area are also culturally isolated, and they have kept to a very traditional, healthy lifestyle. Sardinians still hunt, fish, and harvest the food they eat. Other lessons we can learn from them are:
    • Eat a lean, plant-based diet accented with meat.
    • Put family first. Sardinia’s strong family values help assure that every member of the family is cared for. People who live in strong, healthy families suffer lower rates of depression, suicide, and stress.
    • Celebrate elders! Grandparents can provide love, childcare, financial help, wisdom, and expectations/motivation to perpetuate traditions and push children to succeed in their lives.
    • Take a walk. Walking five miles a day or more, as Sardinian shepherds do, provides all the cardiovascular excercise you would expect.
    • Drink a glass or two of red wine daily.
    • Drink goat’s milk.
    • Laugh with friends. Men in this Blue Zone region are famous for their sardonic sense of humor. They gather in the street each afternoon to laugh with and at each other and are the world’s longest-living men!

Create Your Blue Zone Today!

Start implementing these lessons from Blue Zone communities in your life. Small consistent changes can have a huge impact in your longevity and overall quality of life. What can you start today?

Episode 68

Your Hormones Are Unique to You… Should Your Hormonal Solutions Be Also?

When your hormones start giving your body mixed messages, what’s your best course of action? Something off the shelf (maybe even from a horse!)… or an individualized solution made just for you?

Get the recommendations of long-time pharmacist Mary Jane Frye on how to keep peak hormone function that’s customized just for you.

Watch the video on YouTube now. Prefer audio only?

Listen on Spotify now.

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Do “Blue Zone” Communities Hold the Secrets to Longevity?

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