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What You Need to Know About Blue Zones

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There have been five locations around the world deemed hot spots, or “Blue Zones”, where people have been known to live the longest. Here’s what you need to know. 

In a 2005 National Geographic article, Dan Buettner introduced the concept of Blue Zones®, which are locations around the world where people are observed to be the healthiest and also happen to live longer. Buettner found these hotspots to be located in Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California.

Blue Zones are based on “demographic work” presented in the Journal of Experimental Gerontology by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain. After they discovered that Sardinia had the most men who reached 100-years-old, they began to look closely at other villages that also had significant longevity. In blue, they circled the areas they found and deemed it “Blue Zones”. Upon this discovery, Buettner continued looking for additional “longevity” spots, according to the article

Anthropologists, demographers, medical researchers and epidemiologists worked together to figure out the similarities between each of the Blue Zones. While living to be at least 100 is centered in genetics, one can have the ability to help increase their life expectancy–it’s just a question of how

Listed below is the Power 9®, which is a collection of “lifestyle habits” that, according to the research group’s findings, hold the secret to extending one’s life.

 

  1. Move Naturally: People in Blue Zones are not extremely into fitness routines, but they are always moving without much thought about doing so.
  2. Purpose: They understand their purpose in life, which can help them live up to seven years longer. 
  3. Down Shift: Although people in the Blue Zones still have stresses, they take daily actions to relieve it. “Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour,” according to the website. 
  4. 80% Rule: They stop eating when they are 80% full. Also, Blue Zone residents “eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day,” according to the website. 
  5. Plant Slant: Their diets are concentrated on 95% plants and only eat meat on occasion.
  6. Wine @ 5: Other than the Adventists, they drink often, one or two drinks per day with company or with food. 
  7. Belong: Many belong to a faith-based community. “Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy,” according to the website. 
  8. Loved One’s First: Blue Zone residents are family-oriented and spend a lot of time with their loved ones. Also, when they have a lifelong partner, three years are added to their life expectancy, according to the website. 
  9. Right Tribe: People in the Blue Zones surround themselves with a healthy and supportive social circle. 

Number five, “Plant Slant”, goes much further. The diets of people in these regions are very important. , A few suggestions from the website are to eat beans daily and refrain from consuming a lot of dairy. The list of suggestions goes on, but remember to celebrate food and enjoy it. 

In order to live like one of the centenarians from a Blue Zone, there has to be a constant awareness of one’s lifestyle behaviors. Take a walk “free of devices weekly,” to truly contemplate your purpose, release pent up stress and move naturally. According to the website, walking at least two hours a week is another way to help increase one’s longevity. In addition, maintaining a healthy diet full of plants. One can drink coffee, water, tea and alcohol daily, but stay away from soda. Choose to be surrounded by parents, grandparents, children and a partner and invest in those relationships daily. Find a faith-based service to attend. Lastly, it’s important to form a group of people who impact one’s life positively and with healthy behaviors. If these Blue Zone-ers are living into the triple digits with a happy, positive and fulfilled life to look back on—their habits are key to emulate. Why not follow in their footsteps? 

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