A blue zone is a region where people live much longer than average, boasting large communities of people over 100. Here’s how you can adopt the blue zone mindset.
In September 2004, medical academics and anthropologists Michael Poulain and Gianni Pes identified the Italian island of Sardinia as “a geographic area characterised by extreme longevity”. During the study, they highlighted the area by circling it in blue ink and thus referred to it as the Blue Zone. Best-selling author and researcher Dan Buettner has since discovered four more blue zones, working with demographers from National Geographic to investigate the lifestyles of the world’s longest living people.
Dan noticed nine lifestyle denominators present in each blue zone. He calls them “the power nine” and believes that you too can live longer by living true to these philosophies.
1. Move naturally
The world’s longest-living people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it.
Knowing your sense of purpose adds seven years to life expectancy. If you haven’t already found yours, take time to re-focus. As wellness consultant Dr Tchiki Davis says, “Where you find calmness is where you’ll find your purpose.”
3. Down shift
Okinawans in the blue zone take time each day to remember their ancestors, whilst Ikarians take a nap. Sardinians have happy hour, doing activities that make them smile, like dancing, singing and group crafts. Cocktails not included…
4. 80% rule
Public Health England (PHE) found that the average British woman eats up to 50% more calories per day than she realises. In Okinawa, one must stop eating when 80% full in order to allow correct functioning of the digestive system. Eating lightly at equal intervals has attributed to an average life expectancy of 90.
5. Plant focus
Beans including fava, black, soy and lentils are cornerstones of most blue zone diets. Meat is restricted to five portions per month and never exceeds four ounces in weight — that’s a fillet the size of a pack of cards.
6. Wine at five
According to epidemiologists at bluezones.com, moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. Have one or two glasses of red wine per day, but back it up with plenty of water like the blue zone Ikarians.
7. A sense of belonging
Dan Buettner’s research team found that all but five of the 263 centenarians they interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Research shows that attending these kinds of services four times per month will add four to 14 years to your life.
8. Loved ones first
Blue Zone centenarians put their families first. This means looking after parents and grandparents in the home and investing love and support into children, instead of money and material things.
9. Right tribe
The world’s longest-lived women make lifelong social circles and “moais” that are committed to supporting healthy behaviours. Research from the Framingham Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. So goodwill and kindness can indeed make a physical difference.
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