Last week we discussed 4 of the top habits of many of the longest and healthiest living populations in the world. To recap, these populations live in different zones all over the world and have been given the name Blue Zones. The different populations of these zones have some of the longest life expectancy rates in the world as well as the highest levels of health. Researchers have put together a comprehensive list of the main habits of each of these zones. These habits have effectively kept these populations from experiencing many of the comorbidities that we assume come along with age. Imagine a long and healthy life free from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and many cancers, often with little to no medical intervention. This week, we’ll continue with the remaining 5 top habits of these Blue Zone populations.
Eat Mostly Plants:
We’ve long known by now that the majority of the world doesn’t eat meat the same way we tend to. In fact, most centenarian populations rarely eat meat. And when they do it’s much smaller portions and of extremely high quality (local, grass-fed, and humanely-raised/butchered). In general, beans are the foundation of most centenarian diets. According to researchers, eating a cup of beans a day can add an extra 4 years to your life. It’s also been found that meat-eating in a Blue Zone tends to be limited to about 5 times a month and the serving portion is about 4 oz - or roughly the size of a deck of playing cards.
Drink and Be Merry!:
Blue Zone populations tend to drink alcohol moderately but regularly. It’s used as a beverage with a meal or an enhancement to the end of the day. It’s not used in excess in order to get inebriated. In fact, statistically, moderate drinkers have been found to outlive non-drinkers. But the key is to drink one to two glasses a day and enjoy it with friends and food, not go overboard on a binge.
Faith and Belonging:
An overwhelming majority of centenarians belong to a faith-based community. It doesn’t matter what denomination, but regular assemblies of like-minded individuals looking for something bigger than themselves have been found to add up to 14 years of life expectancy!
Prioritizing Loved Ones:
We all know seclusion isn’t good for the soul. On the contrary, Blue Zone populations put loved ones first. They live in multi-generational homes and care for extended family members. They commit to the care and well-being of their partners and family members. Additionally, the multiple generations care for each other - young and old.
The Framingham Studies (a long-term, multigenerational study that was designed to identify common factors or characteristics that contribute to cardiovascular disease) show that certain habits and emotions, like smoking, happiness, and loneliness are actually contagious. This is why extensive social networks built around positive behaviors and habits are increasingly important for longer and healthier lives. This is just one reason why we love it so much here at Chickahominy Falls - a highly active community with neighbors who care.
By living simple, active, and well-connected lives we can add on years of healthy and happy days free of chronic diseases. As you can see from the list of habits above, it’s not a complicated formula and it’s never too late to start!