You may have heard about the Blue Zones, or you may have not. The Blue Zones are nine regions across the globe that for one reason or another abound in long-lived people. These Blue Zones were identified in a study performed by author and National Geographic contributor, Dan Buettner. His quest was to find areas around the world with extraordinarily long-lived populaces, specifically those with an abundance of centenarians (people over the age of 100). Through this study, five regions were identified.
Loma Linda, California
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Other than being located near a coast, these regions have very little similarity geographically, and they appear to be spread across the globe with no one ethnic group being dominant in terms of longevity. So, what is their secret?
Well, Buettner identified Nine Principles of Longevity shared by the people living in Blue Zones, regardless of where that Blue Zone happened to be located on the globe.
Move naturally – Get more physically active by walking in the community, do manual labor around the house and yard, and grow gardens.
Know your purpose – People who know why they get up in the morning live up to seven years longer than those who don’t.
Down shift – To reverse inflammation related to every major age-related disease, find time each day to meditate, nap, pray or enjoy a happy hour.
80 percent rule – It takes the stomach 20 minutes to tell the brain it is full, causing most people to accidentally overeat. Stop eating when 80 percent full.
Plant slant – Eat a mostly plant-based diet heavy on beans, nuts and green plants. This is consistent with U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations.
Wine at 5 – For those who have a healthy relationship with alcohol, 1-2 glasses of wine daily can add years to a life, especially when combined with a healthy diet.
Family first – Living in a thriving family is worth six extra years of life expectancy.
Belong – Recommit, reconnect or explore a faith-based community. No matter which faith, studies show that people who show up to their faith community four times a month live an extra four to 14 years.
Right tribe – Friends have a long-term impact on well-being. Expand a social circle to include healthy-minded, supportive people. This could be the most powerful way to add years to a life.
So, what can you, as someone who does not live in Blue Zone, do to implement these principles of longevity into your daily life?
In my mind, the nine principles can be grouped together into three broad categories: Exercise, Diet, Community.
Exercise is a key component to your overall quality of life. but there’s no need to train for an Ironman competition or a marathon. Steady, consistent, daily exercise is the key, preferably performed outside so you can soak up some sun while you sweat. This exercise can take many forms such as gardening, walking, jogging, swimming, yoga, etc. The activity is almost irrelevant as long as you consistently do something every day.
A rich and varied diet is important to longevity. While gut flora is not specifically mentioned, other longevity studies indicate that a diverse microbiome is strongly correlated to a long life. Certainly, a diverse, plant-based diet is a good start, but the modern diet is often lacking in several factors inherent in a more traditional diet. That’s where supplements like the probiotics found in supplements provided by ProTrea come into play. They make up for the deficiencies in our diets and promote a diverse and healthy microbiome.
Perhaps the most important key to a long life seems to be a strong sense of community and purpose. People simple live longer when they are active and engaged in their communities. The importance of interpersonal relationships cannot be overstated. They make life worth living, and the goal should always be a long life lived well, not just long.