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Living Life in the Blue Zones

“Eat your vegetables, have a positive outlook, be kind to people, and smile.”


The NFL (National Football League) has the Red Zone, the airports have the White Zone but around the world we are learning all about the Blue Zones.


What, you ask is a Blue Zone?


Here is what Anna Gora of www.livescience.com has to say:


Blue Zones were proposed as regions with some of the oldest people in the world.”

“Blue Zones are a non-scientific term given to geographic regions in the world where people supposedly have higher longevity, particularly in Sardinia, Italy where male centenarians live to be 100 years of age or older.”


Author Dan Buettner proposed in his 2008 book, “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, says that these zones of people share a lot of characteristics culturally and their inhabitants tend to live longer than most”.


“Scientific studies suggest that only about 25 percent of how long we live is dictated by genes, according to famous studies of Danish twins. The other 75 percent is determined by our lifestyles and the everyday choices we make.”


In his research, Buettner identifies 5 Blue Zone regions around the World:


1-      Icaria, Greece: A small Greek island in the Aegean sea

2-      Ogliastra, Sardinia: A region of an Italian island in the Mediterranean

3-      Okinawa: An island off the coast of Japan

4-      Nicoya Peninsula: A peninsula in eastern Costa Rica

5-      The Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda: A community in the hilly valleys of California


“Each of these areas around the world have 9 common features”, says Buettner:


1-      Physical activity: Maintain high levels of physical activity and frequently engage in manual labor.

2-      Purpose: Why I wake up in the morning. A sense of purpose is deemed to be the source of life satisfaction.

3-      Sleep: They prioritize rest and sleep. Midafternoon naps, recognize the Sabbath and rest on the day at least once per week.

4-      The 80% rule: Do not tend to overeat. Based on a mantra spoken before meals by the Okinawan people, reminds people to stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full.

5-      Plant based diet: Based largely on plants.

6-      Sense of community: Strong community ties promote longevity. Okinawans are known to create secure social networks that provide financial and emotional support to the community members.

7-      Loved ones first: Strong family ties are the cornerstone of Blue Zones communities. Seventh-day Adventists live in tight-knit communities where children take care of their aging parents.

8-      Social encouragement: Blue Zones centenarians live in social networks that promote healthy behaviors, making it easier to stick to a healthy lifestyle.

9-      Moderate alcohol consumption: It is believed that moderate alcohol consumption of some centenarians contributed to their long-life span.


So, what is a Blue Zones diet made of? Click here for a link to the diet and recipes you could incorporate into your meal plan.


“These Blue Zones foods have been associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Plant based eaters get more key nutrients, including vitamin C and fiber, less saturated fat, and fewer total calories,” according to Samantha Cassetty, RD. Blue Zones people tend to choose water as their main beverage and their diets consists mainly of beans, nuts, and legumes. Meat is eaten on special occasions.


A typical week looks like this:

Day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Snack

Monday

Oatmeal with berries and walnuts

Lentil soup with mixed greens salad

Grilled salmon with roasted vegetables

Apple slices with almond butter

Tuesday

Scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms

Chickpea salad with whole-grain bread

Vegetable stir-fry with brown rice

Carrot sticks with hummus

Wednesday

Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts

Black bean soup with mixed greens salad

Baked sweet potato with black beans and salsa

Orange slices

Thursday

Smoothie with berries, banana, and almond milk

Quinoa salad with mixed greens

Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables

Handful of almonds

Friday

Avocado toast with whole-grain bread

Minestrone soup with mixed greens salad

Spaghetti squash with tomato sauce and meatballs

Pear slices with almond butter

Saturday

Breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, black beans, and salsa

Tuna salad with whole-grain bread

Grilled tofu with roasted vegetables

Banana slices with almond butter

Sunday

Pancakes with berries and walnuts

Lentil soup with mixed greens salad

Vegetable curry with brown rice

Apple slices with almond butter

“WHAT CAN ADD ON MORE GOOD YEARS?

Robert Kane: Rather than exercising for the sake of exercising, try to make changes to your lifestyle. Ride a bicycle instead of driving. Walk to the store instead of driving. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Build that into your lifestyle. The chances are that you will sustain that behavior for a much longer time. And the name of the game here is sustaining. These things that we try—usually after some cataclysmic event has occurred, and we now want to ward off what seems to be the more perceptible threat of dying—don’t hold up over the long haul. We find all sorts of reasons not to do it. The second thing I’d tell you is don’t take up smoking.


The biggest threat to improving our lifestyles has been cigarette smoking. That beats everything else. Once you’re a nonsmoker, I would try to get you to learn to develop a moderate lifestyle in regard to your weight to build into your daily routine enough exercise to keep you going.”

If you have access to Netflix, right now on that streaming movie channel is a series just starting all about the Blue Zones and their people. Check it out!

 

Call to Action

If you follow any diet, how is it working for you?

In what ways do you think this way of eating is extreme?

Would you be willing to give it a go for a year?

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