Have you heard of Blue Zones? They are small pockets of the world where people live the longest. What does Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; and the oldest living world population of Okinawa, Japan have in common? The people of these regions, all living thousands of miles apart, are thriving well into 100+ years old and they share some specific commonalities...
Here are nine concepts that the people of these regions share:
- Daily natural movement - their lifestyle involves low to medium impact, utilitarian movement. Not specifically exercise, rather functional movements and walking with friends and family.
- Prayer, meditation and napping - taking time during the day to lessen stress on the mind and body helps to reduce cortisol levels; this is a practice of intra-personal connection.
- Sense of purpose - everyone has meaning in life, even grandma who spends her days loving and taking care of her grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren - she gets that distinction because she still thrives at 98 years old. She continues to work in the garden, growing food for her community.
- Daily wine - a high quality wine or saki in moderation, with its beneficial polyphenols is said to unclog arterial plumbing to support heart function.
- Plant-based diet - no, not vegetarians or vegans, however they primarily consume vegetables and fruits, complimented by healthy fats, whole grains, protein (maybe 5 servings/month animal protein), nuts, seeds, legumes and plenty of H2O.
- Food tapering - a big breakfast for energy and decreased food consumption throughout the day to aid in quality sleep.
- Family first - no child left behind takes on a different philosophy in Blue Zones. Positivity, support and love, are some words to describe their deep bonds with one another.
- Faith - no matter what is the regional beliefs or value system, each Blue Zone group has strong moral code built on relationships and service. The 7-Day Adventists of Loma Linda, California follow the Bible's nutrition plan. God wants us to eat whole food.
- Social networks - children in Sardinia grow up playing with the same friends they go to school with, work with and grow old with. Lasting, positive relationships feed the soul.
What can we learn from Blue Zones? Well, upon observation and reflection, how are you doing with these nine concepts? Which concepts are lacking in your life that could both nourish you and your family, while improving your quality of life?
In America, life expectancy is mid to late 70's for men and women. One important thing to recognize is that American's who live this long have a morbidity period that typically lasts three to six years. This is the suffering factor from built up stress and it is not pretty. Blue Zones do not experience morbidity before death. Studies show that the nine concepts are the reason why they live well past 90 years old with full movement and vigor.
Want to learn more about Blue Zones and find out where you stand on the Vitality Compass? Check out: www.bluezones.com