It’s more than just living a long time…
Blue zones are areas of the world where longevity is much higher than the average. The blue zones that have been identified are in: Sardinia; Ikaria in Greece; the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica; Japan’s Okinawa division; and the Seventh Day Adventist community in Loma Linda California.
What these places have in common is an unusually high number of people who live to be over 100. Not just alive — but thriving, healthy and happy!
Why would you want to live to be over 100 if you are living in pain and suffering?
There are some Powerful and Fundamental Ideas we can learn and incorporate into our own lives to help us to live longer — and not just longer, but healthier, happier and more fulfilling.
First: They manage stress wisely!
All of these diverse groups have ways to decrease stress in their lives. Some of them pray, some meditate, some have daily naps, others have a daily happy hour! Stress less, play and recover more!
Take away — Find someway that you can help your stress — naps, meditation, yoga, deep breathing, journaling, talking with friends daily…
Second: They move more naturally!
People in blue zones move in a way that is natural to their life. They walk everywhere, they don’t use modern conveniences that take away movement. They move around all day.
Take away — Walk more! Walk to the store, bike, hike and try to move more throughout the day. You don’t need to work out so hard and intensely if you just naturally move more!
Third: They eat lots of plants!
Most of their diet is plant-based, especially beans, lentils, etc. There is lots of diversity in the diets, but very little meat is eaten. Most of these blue zone people eat meat not at all or less than 5 times a month.
Take away — Eat more plants! Try incorporating more meatless days into your diet. And eat a large variety of plant-based foods.
Fourth: They spend lots of time with family and friends!
People in these zones tend to live in close contact, daily, with family — lots of extended family, grandparents, grandchildren, etc — and friends. They live close together and work daily together.
Take away — This can be harder in our distant culture and is a major reason loneliness is rampant in our society. We can try to stay in contact with phone calls, Skype, Facetime, etc. Also, do as much visiting as you can. Really nurture your relationships. Take the time.
Fifth: They follow the 80% Rule!
“Har hachi bu” — the Japanese manta — which Okinawans follow, means to stop eating your meal when you feel about 80% full. Blue zone people don’t eat until they are full, they stop before that and eat smaller meals in the evening.
Take away — Try implementing the 80% rule in your life. We often stuff ourselves quickly and then feel bloated and sick. It takes about 20 minutes to feel that “full” feeling. We can try eating slower and eating less. Maybe try having your biggest meal be lunch, instead of a late dinner.
Sixth: They have a life purpose!
Many people in the blue zones know why they wake up in the morning. They feel a deep meaning for their lives.
Take away — Find a purpose that will help you get out of bed in the morning. Studies show this greatly increases fulfillment in life and does increase longevity.
Finding your purpose takes introspection and soul-searching, but it doesn’t have to be saving the world; it can be a simple and as profound as showing love every day to your family. Helping your friends or maybe your start helping the human rights movement— starting in your own community. Something that moves you.
Seventh: They drink wine daily!
Yum! Moderate consumption of wine daily helps with their health. And they don’t drink alone, they have a glass with their family and friends. Laughing and sharing.
Take away — Red wine has resveratrol which has been shown to help health in various ways. Have a small glass daily, preferably enjoying it with family and friends!
But don’t overindulge, that is unhealthy and can lead to addiction, depression, liver disease and other negative health consequences. Limit yourself to one glass daily.
Eighth: They belong to some type of faith community!
Most of these long-lived peoples were part of some type of faith-based community.
Take away — If you belong to a particular faith, then take pleasure in knowing that this will help your longevity.
If you aren’t a member, non-religious, atheistic, or agnostic or whatever your beliefs, you can try finding some type of spiritual feelings in your life that bring you comfort.
For some people it can be the peace and tranquillity found in nature, simply nurturing others and striving to be thoughtful and helping the world to be a better place. Feeling love for the moment you are in. This gives comfort and can help build inner peace.
Ninth: They belong to the right “tribe”!
These blue zone people who live to a healthy ripe old age, have social circles that encourage each other to live healthily. They all support each other’s healthy behaviours.
Take away — We have all heard that the five people you hang around the most are who you become like. Behaviours that harm you, such as smoking, overdrinking, eating junk food and being depressed and angry, are contagious.
However, if the people you hang out with the most are healthy, eat well, are happy and optimistic, chances are much higher that you will too. Your inner circle can help you to stay accountable to healthy behaviours.
So — big take away — take a long look at your close associates and make changes if you have to. Yes, that is hard to do. But this is a huge step to living a long and healthy life.
Choose your friends wisely. Make sure they are influencing you positively.
Tenth: Stop smoking
Most people who live to be over 100 and stay healthy, strong and happy doing it, avoid smoking. Smoking is a huge predictor of early death. Of course, there are those outliers that defy the odds and still live long, but they are the exception.
Take away — Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke. Stop smoking if you do. It’s hard yes, and you’ll probably fail more than once. Just try again. And again. It’s worth it.
All of these points and takeaways are no guarantee that you will live longer than your grandparents did, or remain healthy until very old age. But they will help.
AND, they can really help you to enjoy the journey. The blue zones have much to teach us!
I write articles on healthy living, finding fulfillment and happiness, medications and medical topics, yoga and living an adventurous life. Living your best life!