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:
- “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.
- Purpose– Why do you wake up in the morning? Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.
- 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.
- 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.
- Plant Slant– The cornerstone of most centenarian diets? Beans. They typically eat meat—mostly pork—only five times per month.
- 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.
- Belong– Attending faith-based services four times per month – no matter the denomination – adds up to 14 years of life expectancy.
- 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.
- 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!
The Blue Zone project has the right recipe for a long and healthy life!
For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.