Join the Blue Zones!


Have you ever wondered why some people live well into their 90’s and even 100’s with their mind and body relatively intact? Well, Dan Buettner of the National Geographic did too and in 2004, he identified five areas of the world, which he calls Blue Zones, where people reached age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States.

  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica

Dan and his team of scientists studied the lifestyle that explained their longevity and well-being and found 9 shared characteristics. According to the Blue Zone project, the 9 Blue Zone lessons, or Power 9®, are:

  1.  “Move Naturally – The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron or run marathons. Instead, their environments    nudge them into moving without thinking about it.
  2.  Purpose– Why do you wake up in the morning? Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life         expectancy.
  3. Down Shift– Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. The world’s longest-lived people have routines to shed that stress.
  4. 80% Rule“Hara hachi bu” – the Okinawans say this mantra before meals as a reminder to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full.
  5. Plant Slant– The cornerstone of most centenarian diets? Beans. They typically eat meat—mostly pork—only five times per month.
  6. Wine @ 5– Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers, especially if they share those drinks with friends. Moderate drinking is one per day for women and two per day for men.
  7. Belong– Attending faith-based services four times per month – no matter the denomination – adds up to 14 years of life expectancy.
  8. Loved Ones First – Centenarians put their families first. They keep aging parents and grandparents nearby, commit to a life partner and invest in their children.
  9. Right Tribe– The world’s longest lived people chose or were born into social circles that support healthy behaviors.”

Simply put, they eat primarily a plant-based diet, get regular gentle exercise including walking, fishing, gardening, have the support of a close group of friends and/or family, and have a strong sense of faith and purpose in their lives.

I recently attended a Blue Zone cooking class.  Beans are the basis of each of the Blue Zones, so for dinner I made the typical Costa Rican diet most consumed by centenarians – black beans, brown basamati rice, squash and avocado, which I doctored up with spices, shallots and Ponzu sauce (recipe below). This easy, healthy and delicious meal offers all that you need – complete protein, high fiber, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Even my meat-eating husband enjoyed it!

Ponzu Sauce – 1/3 cup organic tamari, 1/3 cup lemon and 1/3 cup mirin (rice cooking wine) with a dollop of honey. Use to liven up anything!

Visit the Blue Zone website for more information and take the vitality quiz to calculate your healthy life expectancy!

The Blue Zone project has the right recipe for a long and healthy life!

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

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4 responses to this post.

  1. I saw a documentary on the blue zone and have worked at lowering my stress. For me, the aging culprit is sugar. Just can’t seem to win and working on building the circle of friends that is so important to good health. I have moved way too often. 😦 These are all good points. Thanks.

    Reply

    • Glad you are working on it. A circle of friends is so important! Where do you live?

      Reply

      • Right now and hopefully for the rest of my time, I’m in a manufactured home park on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. Oregon City to be exact. I’ve joined a quilting group and a sewing group to make friends and I’ve made one or two in the neighborhood. I also take trips with the senior center once in a while. Now that my son is living with me for a bit, he is here a great deal and my daughter comes once a week. My sister less often but soon she will retire too and maybe we will see more of each other. I moved here to be closer to family. There is lots to do in this community and good public transportation. 🙂 I have to live to be 108 as I have a LOT of projects to finish before I can be done. :)))

      • I don’t think you need to worry! You have a lot going on and you live near family! That’s great…..

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