Blue Zone Secrets

Surpassing the global life expectancy average of 71.4 years are five areas, called the Blue Zones, in which life spans have greater longevity. These areas are home to some of the oldest and healthiest people in the world. The five areas are: Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Loma Linda, California, USA; and Ikaria, Greece. Maybe you can steal some of their habits!

Sardinia has the highest concentration of male centenarians in the world, largely due to familial closeness, daily physical activity, and the M26 marker, a genetic variant linked to extreme longevity, that has been passed down through generations in this secluded community. Residents have a plant-based diet; the sheep herders walk at least five miles/day; and men with daughters may get especially tender care as they age.

In Okinawa, bonding reaches its peak in this culture. Okinawans are supported by their moai, a small but tight-knit social circle meant to be there through all of life’s ups and downs, which provides social support strong enough to dull mental stressors and reinforce shared healthy behaviors. This culture boasts the longest-living women in the world, many surpassing 100 years.

Nicoya has residents that avoid processed food and take it to a higher level. The Costa Rican people traditionally get the majority of their caloric intake from beans, squash and corn, plus tropical fruits. Together with plenty of time outdoors, this plant-forward, nutrient-dense diet makes for strong, well-nourished bodies. A guiding life purpose, a plan de vida, helps Nicoyans stay mentally and spiritually fulfilled to age 90 and beyond.

Loma Linda, California is the only Blue Zone in the United States and is a haven for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Protestant denomination has a shared set of principles, emphasis on community and adherence to the Sabbath. Loma Linda Adventists live 10 years longer than their fellow Americans. Many avoid meat and eat plenty of plants, whole grains and nuts.

Ikaria has residents with a fierce sense of island pride, keeping them invested in their community. Their regimen of late bedtimes offset by daily naps and a strict adherence to the Mediterranean diet of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, potatoes and olive oil, propels one in three Ikarians to live into their 90s, often free of dementia and chronic disease. From: February 26, 2018




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