By now many of us have heard of Blue Zones, a term used to indicate locations across the globe where the populations hold not only some of the longest life expectancy rates, but also the healthiest. People in these zones tend to be free from heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and many types of cancers, lending heft to the point that these chronic illnesses are not an inherent trait of aging, but in fact are more likely due to lifestyle factors. Over the last 2 decades, researchers have been compiling data from these deemed Blue Zones to put together a list of certain habits performed by some of the healthiest centenarians in the world. They found that the people in all of these zones:
You won’t find CrossFit gyms in these zones. The people here move naturally with their environments and don’t have heavy machinery to do their chores, their bodies get their work done. Instead of sitting on a riding mower to cut their lawns, they grow gardens and work in them.
Have a Sense of Purpose:
A reason to get up and motivate your day. Something larger than yourself that drives you has been found to add up to SEVEN YEARS to your life!
This seems obvious, but in American culture, we often thrive (or think we thrive) on stress. Many of us brag about how exhausted we are from our work and our side-hustles. And how many times have you or someone you know told stories of when you were younger and had no time for fun because you were too busy\working? While that’s not inherently an American trait, it’s definitely a thread that is heavily sewn into the fabric of our national identity. And according to the data collected, it’s killing us. Blue Zone populations live smaller, more content lives and are ringing in New Year after New Year in higher health. When stress happens, they deal with it and learn from it. The alternative, sweeping it under the rug and silently building on it also seems to be a great American pastime. This is the perfect time to identify and/or acquire the tools required to help mitigate the largest stressors in your life. Blue Zone populations often pray/meditate daily and intentionally, or even just nap - allowing your body to hit a reset button as stress is a key influencer of increased inflammation.
The 80% Rule:
Another habit that tends to be a bit difficult for Americans - eat until you’re only about 80% full. This could be a harder habit to build, especially if you’re a speed eater - which is why a mantra before meals may help remind you that a meal that requires you to unbutton your pants for comfort isn’t the main goal. Blue Zone populations eat their smallest meal as their last meal of the day in the late afternoon/early evening and don’t snack beyond that.
Want more health tips for living a longer, healthier life? Check out next week’s blog for more tips gleaned from our global Blue Zone populations. I’ll leave you with one last tip: eat your veggies. It’s an oldie but a goodie!