Essential For A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life!
In todays modern world, mortality is, in large part, brought on by chronic illness and disease. While it can be argued to the contrary, the prevalence of chronic disease in the western world is widely due to controllable lifestyle factors.
However, in very specific geographical areas of the world, there are populations with incomparably longer lives, lower rates of disease and illness, and overall healthier happier people.
These places are known as “Blue Zones”.
Throughout this article, you’ll become educated on the common factors that make up Blue Zones, and how lifestyle plays such a large role in the populations health and longevity. In short, you’ll learn why people that live in Blue Zones live longer than anyone else on earth.
Let’s dive right into it!
What are “Blue Zones”?
As mentioned above, Blue Zones are simply geographic locations containing populations of higher than average lifespans, and are home to some of the world’s oldest people.
Where did the term originate? Funny enough, the term Blue Zones derived from an author and his colleagues who were first studying these areas and were known to circle them in blue marker on the map once discovered. If you’d like to read up on these regions more, the book is logically entitled “The Blue Zones – By Dan Buettner”.
So, you may be curious…Where are these so called Blue Zones of the world and what have we learned from them? Great question!
While Blue Zones are still being studied to this day, and new regions are yet to be discovered, there are five original locations dubbed ‘The Blue Zones’ that we all know to be today:
Loma Linda, California
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
While genetics have been shown to play a percentage of the part in these populations’ health and longevity, diet and lifestyle factors seem to be the leading explanation to why these individuals seem to live such long lives.
The Blue Zone Lifestyle
The Blue Zone Lifestyle refers to the way in which the majority of these populations live their lives; from what they eat on a daily basis and how physically active they are, to how much alcohol they consume and what their cultural traditions are.
In what follows, we will dive deeper into the most common lifestyle factors that sets them apart from the rest of the world, however, for now, here is a list:
Their diets consists of largely plant-based foods
They fast and follow calorically restrictive diets
Exercise is an inevitable part of their daily lives
They rest and nap as needed (sleep is a non-negotiable priority)
They indulge in moderate alcohol consumption
They live lives of purpose
While this may seem like a lot of what we already know to be healthy in the western world, unfortunately a large majority of this is never put into practice on a consistent basis, and especially not for a lifetime. In fact, upwards of 45% of Americans are classified as obese. That’s the only statistic you should need to know about the western lifestyle…
Time to dive deeper!
The Blue Zone Diet
The data suggests that those that reside in blue zones primarily ingest a plant-based diet full of whole foods. While this isn’t a particularly strict rule for those in these regions, approx. 95% of their diet consists of such foods, with the other5% consisting of meats on a monthly basis.
While meat can certainly be a healthy part of ones diet, especially high-quality, grass-fed meat, major studies have conclusive data to the contrary. In fact, according to overwhelming research, avoiding regular meat consumption can drastically impact heart disease risk, cancers, and other mortality-ridden health conditions.
So in conclusion, the blue zone diet looks a little something like this:
Rich in Vegetables and Legumes: Vegetables and legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas contain many vitamins and minerals, and are a great source of fibre, among other things.
Packed with Nuts and Seeds: Another great source of fibre, protein, and healthy fats are nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, etc.). These foods have strong associations with a healthy metabolism and reduced health problems.
Wholesome Whole grains: Whole grains have been shown to reduce many biomarkers of health, from blood pressure and heart rate, to cancers and heart disease.
The Blue Zone Exercise Regimen
Exercise is another extremely important factor in the course of longevity and aging. As such, you can probably guess that those in the blue zone regions are highly active. If so, you’d be totally correct!
While people in these regions don’t necessarily prioritize a rigid exercise routine, nor do they particularly hold corporate gym members. However, due to their lifestyle, the vast majority of the blue zone lifestyle has been built around things that require constant physical activity; from gardening and cooking, to walking, hiking, and daily laborious chores.
These built in habits through the history books is a large contributor to the success in aging for those in the blue zones. In fact, research states that exercise can reduce the risk of early death by almost 40%.
If you learn anything from the Blue Zones, it’s that you probably need a lifestyle shift abundant in plants and physical activity…
To top it off, its been shown that fasting and caloric restriction is a large part of their nutrition regimen. Without getting into the science, there is a strong strong correlation to health and longevity, and fasting.
A Final Word
The Blue Zone people live a life of abundance, however, not in the way westerns define it. Instead of cheeseburgers and fries for dinner, it’s abundance from nature; instead of a weekend of binge watching Netflix on the couch, it’s a weekend of purpose and hiking through the mountains.
Those that live in these regions live a life of purpose, they seek meaning and relationships, and they prioritize lifestyle over short-term pleasure.
There’s more than a few things that we can learn from this, but hopefully this article is a start.
You May Also Be Interested In: