Today my day was made when I walked up to my flat and saw a package from a lovely friend living back in the States. She sent me a National Geographic Magazine titled the Blue Zones: The Science of Living Longer, and a cook book that was modelled after themes found in the magazine.
The general idea behind the two sources, is teaching people new “food ideas and eating practices, plus easy ways to change their environment” that are modelled after the Blue Zones.
What are the Blue Zones? The Blue Zones are places where people live the healthiest and longest lives, according to researchers. They called them blue because the researchers circled them in blue ink… not as creative as I thought!
Five places were highlighted.
- Ikaria, Greece
- Okinawa, Japan
- Ogliastra region, Sardinia
- Loma Linda, California
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rice
Now, before you hop on a plane and jet off to one of these places, I am going to give you the major lifestyle practices and environmental factors that supposedly contribute to the overall healthfulness of the Blue Zones. Assuming my readers are currently living out stereotypical American lifestyles I will also add ways these factors can be applied so you can make your life more Blue 🙂
The Power Nine
- Move naturally. Walk more and drive less. Since being abroad I realised how little Americans walk. I will drive a mile to my yoga studio to work out at home. While in Scotland my walk to class is a mile back and forth everyday. This is important especially if work entails sitting at a desk all day. Try fitting in a walk after dinner or walking anywhere within a 1-2 mile radius of your house.
- Purpose. Find something worth waking up to in the morning. “Research shows that a sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of life expectancy.”
- Downshift. Aka find something to relieve stress. For me, exercise is a key component. Or reading a book by myself.
- 80 Percent Rule. Stop eating when you are 80 percent full… trust me. I know this is much harder than it sounds. My advice is to eat more slowly. When I inhale a meal, often times I realise I really did not need those extra four cookies. Put your fork down between bites, talk to people while eating, and drink water throughout the meal.
- Plant slant. Beans are quite popular in centenarian diets. Make hummus, roasted chickpeas, and bean chilli!
- Wine @ 5. Drink alcohol moderately and every day. But stay away from sugar loaded drinks. One to two glasses of wine should do it!
- Right tribe. Surround yourself with like minded people that make you happy!
- Community. “Research shows that attending faith based services four times a month adds 4-14 years of life expectancy.”
- Loved ones first. Invest in your family. Enough said.
Now, are any of these ideas revolutionary? No. Will I wake up tomorrow screaming I know the secret to a long life? No.
Why? Because most of these factors we all already know. It is not really a secret. However, our environment and lifestyles impede on our ability and will to follow through with them.
What is my conclusion? Pick one of these nine factors for each of the next nine months, and work on it. Take a walk to visit your neighbour. Eat hummus for a snack instead of a candy bar. Invite your friends over for a wine night. And maybe travel to one of the Blue Zones!