Longer, happy & healthy life: Blue Zones

Live longer, be happy and healthy by optimizing your lifestyle and environment. It sounds too good to be true, but there are a number of places on Earth where this is successfully applied. These places are called Blue Zones. Dan Buettner conducted research in these 5 areas. Although the Blue Zones are spread all over the world, the people who live there have a striking amount in common.

Blue Zones

The lifestyle of Blue Zone residents appears to share 9 specific characteristics. These common features are called the Power 9.

The Power 9:

1. Exercise naturally

For relatively short distances, walk or cycle instead of by car. Take the stairs instead of the elevator; The population in the Blue Zones do not run marathons or go to the gym. Instead, they live in an environment that constantly encourages them to exercise. Natural movement that is. They garden in a vegetable garden and use little to no electrical appliances for work in the house and garden.

2. Having a purpose

Have a plan for the day; The people in the Blue Zones have a goal in mind when they get up early in the morning. Pursuing a goal gives extra energy and increases life expectancy.

3. Shift down a gear

Provide moments of rest; Long-term stress is bad for a person. Stress consumes energy and a lack of energy causes health problems. What the people with the longest life expectancies have (that most others don’t) are daily routines to shake off that stress. For example, by meditating, taking a nap, praying or just doing something fun.

4. 80% rule

Reduce your calorie intake by 20%; In the blue zones the principle is that you eat until the stomach is 80% full. This ‘eating concept’ is the difference between not being hungry anymore and feeling full. This can also be the difference between losing weight or gaining weight.

5. Base your diet on plant-based foods

Eat plant foods; The diet of the residents of the Blue Zones is based on plant-based food. This mainly concerns different types of beans, such as broad beans, soy beans, black beans and lentils. But nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables and sweet potatoes are also part of the menu.

6. Wine

Drink red wine; Drinking wine is also one of the specific characteristics of the Blue Zone residents. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. Drink 1 or 2 glasses of wine per day (preferably Sardinian Connonau wine) with dinner with family or friends.

7. Faith

Profess a faith; No fewer than 98% of the residents in the Blue Zones belong to a religious community. Which faith does not seem to matter, but according to Dan Buettner’s research, believers have a higher life expectancy. For example, faith can be a good way to shake off stress (point 3).

8. Lovers

Invest time in family and friends; In the Blue Zones, family and loved ones come first. Parents and grandparents are taken into the home or live near the home. This also appears to reduce the morbidity and mortality rates of children in the home. They are faithful to a life partner, committed to the relationship and they invest time and love in their children.

9. Find like-minded people

Create a socially beneficial network; Good friends and sufficient social contacts contribute to an extra long life expectancy. It turns out that people from the blue zones live in socially beneficial networks that promote healthy behavior.

The 5 Blue Zones

Okinawa (Japan)

Okinawa is an archipelago off the coast of Japan with many of the longest-living people in the world. The 1.3 million residents of Okinawa attach great importance to their traditions, culture and environment.
The Okinawans have a positive outlook on life and gain energy from having a life purpose. For example, they grow herbs, ginger and turmeric in their own vegetable garden. They also eat a lot of soy products such as tofu. Another important aspect: eat until you are 80% full.

Loma Linda (California)

Loma Linda is a town in California and has approximately 20,000 inhabitants. The residents of Loma Linda have the highest life expectancy in the United States. This is mainly due to the lifestyle of the Seventh Day Adventist community, whose faith endorses healthy living.
Particular attention should be given to discouraging alcohol, smoking and soft drinks. Rest and relaxation in spas, lots of exercise and drinking 5 to 6 glasses of water per day.

Nicoya (Costa Rica)

Nicoya is a city in the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste. The city is built in old colonial style and is one of the most important tourist areas of Costa Rica.
The high calcium content in the water is one of the reasons why the Nicoya belongs to the 5 Blue Zones. In addition, the Nicoyans have a diet of lots of fruit, rice, beans and corn. Sufficient sleep and sunlight are also among the ingredients of a long and happy Nicoyan.

Ikaria (Greece)

Ikaria is an island in the Aegean Sea and has approximately 10,000 inhabitants. The population of Ikaria has the most ninety-year-olds in the world, less heart disease and almost no dementia. The reasons for this are probably the clean air and the Mediterranean diet of healthy fish & vegetables.
The lessons that this Greek island teaches us are: Ensure sufficient exercise such as walking and cycling and take a nap regularly (5 times a week) of about 30 minutes

Sardinia (Italy)

The island of Sardinia is located south of the island of Corsica and west of the Boot of Italy. Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Sardinians are known for their positive attitude towards parents (strong family ties). The islanders enjoy the beauty of the environment, exercise a lot and consume large amounts of dark red wine (Cannanau), broad beans, barley, goat’s milk and goat’s cheese (Pecorino)

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