It’s no secret that eating healthy and exercising is good for the body. From fighting disease to boosting energy, those who practice a health-centered lifestyle reap many benefits in the Blue Zone.
However, some diets and lifestyles may prove more effective than others. Example: The Blue Zone. Interestingly, people who occupy the Blue Zone tend to live longer than people in other parts of the world. Surprisingly, they don’t often come across diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
And beware, people in the Blue Zone don’t count calories, take vitamins, weigh grams of protein, or even read labels.
With that, Dan Buttnerlongevity specialist and author of “American cuisine of the blue zones” cookbook, gives us insight into the sustainable lifestyles of Blue Zone centenarians and offers 100 delicious Blue Zone-inspired recipes to help you live to be 100.
Blue zone locations
After a Danish twin study revealed that only about 20% of our lifespan is determined by genes, it occurred to Buettner that it might be possible to reverse longevity by finding the areas whose lifespan is the longest and then using established scientific techniques to find the common denominator as it correlates with a high life expectancy.
“Working with Michel Poulain and Dr Gianni Pes, we found the oldest people in Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, Nicoya in Costa Rica and among Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda in California,” Buettner says.
So what do these inhabitants of the Blue Zone have in common? Many.
Blue Zone Staples
Movement versus traditional exercise
People in the blue zones don’t exercise as much as they move naturally. “Every time they go to work, to a friend’s house, or to run errands, it gives them a walk,” says Buettner. And sitting on the floor instead of a chair allows for additional movements (like a squat) that repeat throughout the day. For example, when visiting a 104-year-old woman in Okinawa, Japan (to study the Blue Zone Dweller), Buettner observed the woman squat about thirty times a day simply by rising from the ground to perform daily tasks.
It’s no coincidence that Okinawa has low death rates from falls and broken hips. Buettner thinks this daily movement could play a huge role in strengthening your lower body, thereby increasing longevity.
On top of that, Blue Zone residents have zero screen time “Their homes are free of mechanized amenities, so they go home and do yard work by hand, and they all have gardens that ‘they work out all year,’ says Buettner, and the numbers move every 20 minutes or so, thus getting more ‘exercise’ than most people who belong to gyms.
Incorporate these blue zone habits:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Bike to work (if you live close enough).
- Limit screen time and replace it with movement.
- Use bean bags (or low chairs) to encourage lower body movement.
- If you have a desk job, set a timer every thirty minutes and get up and walk around.
Primarily plant-based food choices
Approximately 90% of Blue Zone’s traditional dietary intake comes from whole plant sources and 65% from complex carbohydrates. “The 5 pillars of every longevity diet in the world are whole grains (wheat, rice and corn), root vegetables (sweet potatoes, etc.), green vegetables (about 60 varieties), nuts and beans “, explains Buettner.
Limit or eat very little meat, dairy products, drinks and sugary foods and processed foods.
Their meals consist of whole foods grown on their land and prepared by hand every day, committing to their nutrition and health.
Travel and food choices are the only reasons blue zone dwellers live longer because they have low stress levels and are socially connected, giving them a sense of connection and a strong sense of purpose.
Incorporate these blue zone habits:
- Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Limit processed foods, beverages, and foods high in sugar.
- Try “Meatless Monday”.
- Consume a handful of raw nuts daily,
Butter Beans with Benne Seeds and Okra Recipe