To celebrate Older Americans Month and how we can age healthier by staying engaged and make mindful lifestyle choices, I wanted to share insight into the “Blue Zones.” These are certain areas in the world where researchers have discovered that people are living longer and healthier. Although we don’t live in one of the designated Blue Zones, we can make lifestyle choices to promote healthier living. Here are some of the common themes amongst the Blue Zones that I found quite interesting: (and it doesn’t appear that eating fast food is on the list)
1. Move Naturally. The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.
2. Purpose. “Why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.
3. Down Shift. Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. What the world’s longest-lived people have that we don’t are routines to shed that stress.
4. 80% Rule. One group intentionally stops eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it. People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day.
5. Plant Slant. Beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat, mostly pork, is eaten on average only five times per month.
6. Wine @ 5. People in most Blue Zones drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. 1-2 glasses per day with friends and food.
7. Belong. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter.
8. Loved Ones First. Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first.
9. Right Tribe. The world’s longest-lived people chose, or were born into, social circles that supported healthy behaviors. Research shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. The social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their healthy behaviors. (for more information, visit https://www.bluezones.com/ )
So on that note, I’m now trying to decide between moving to Greece or Italy? I’ll be in touch…