July 14, 2017
BLUE ZONES...WHAT ARE THEY?
What's the secret to longevity? Many people think life span is like the old nature versus nurture argument, and that your genes account for 50% or more of your overall lifespan. But recent data shows that not to be the case, and genetics may play a much smaller role than previously thought, with the figure being more like 10%
We can learn a lot from people who live in Blue Zones. This name was coined by Dan Buettner who founded the Blue Zone project. He investigated certain parts of the world that had a high concentration of people living well into their 90's and beyond. Not only did they live longer, but their overall quality of life was better.
THE FOUR DEADLY HORSEMEN
We are all familiar with these killers. Turns out that these diseases aren't common in blue zones. But its not because they are taking a magic pill or on some fad diet. There is no silver bullet, but rather...
A SILVER SHOT GUN
The blue zone project identified some key habits that, when combined and practiced regularly leads to a longer, higher quality life.
THE RIGHT FRIENDS
Choosing your friends wisely is a big factor. The old saying is true ' Birds of the same feather, flock together'. Surrounding yourself with quality friends is key to maintaining good living habits. Sometimes it makes sense to take stock of your relationships and what positive roles they play in your life, or re-consider those who bring negativity. Many in these blue zones value the experience and wisdom of their elders.
Many blue zone inhabitants don't go to gyms. But they do exercise in a natural way. Whether it's walking or gardening, Blue Zoner's don't spend long amounts of time sitting. In our modern world, sitting at a desk or in a car has adverse physical consequences. If you happen to sit a lot due to work, figure a way to incorporate movement throughout the day, even if it's walking up and down to different floors. If time is a factor, even small amounts of physical activity each day will help. Downloading an app that follows the 7 minute scientific workout is a low cost, easy way to incorporate movement.
A recent book observed the eating habits of one area of the United States:
"Organized exercise is nonexistent. Eating habits are dreadful. We rarely cook. Instead, there are Pillsbury cinnamon rolls for breakfast, Taco Bell for lunch, and McDonald’s for dinner. New to me was “Mountain Dew mouth”: rotten teeth from a lifetime consumption of soda. "
Blue Zoner's however eat a mostly plant based diet with very little processed food. The diet is rich in healthy foods - legumes, vegetables, whole grains, fish and other simple proteins. There is little added sugar.
Another habit in the Blue Zone is drinking tea. Whether it was green tea in Okinawa or herbal tea from Ikarus, Greece, these teas were found to have a large amount of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. In essence, they were drinking natural medicine all day long. Remember though, any tea with added sugars will negate the health benefits. Whether you drink straight green tea or a mountain herb blend, both will pay enormous dividends towards your health.
Blue Zoner's share an upbeat, positive attitude on life. Part of this is keeping a purpose - by helping others, enjoying hobbies or spending time with friends and family. In some areas, religion also provides positive reinforcement and social support. All these combine to lower stress levels. Chronic stress affects the immune system, which makes us susceptible to disease. Keeping an open mind and a willingness to learn will help the brain stay pliable and stimulated - which has a side benefit of reducing the chance of dementia or Alzheimers.
HOW TO GET STARTED