There is more and more research being discovered around the common components that influence longevity, health and wellness. The Blue Zones have become a major example of what it takes to live a life not only well into your 100s but one that is filled with vibrancy and vitality.
What are the Blue Zones? The Blue Zones hold the highest concentration of centenarians or people who live to 100 or older, have aged in a healthy way and in some cases live up to 120 years old.
There are currently five Blue Zones in the world – in Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California (where there is the highest concentration of Seventh Day Adventists); Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Ikaria, Greece.
There are several factors that contribute to these people’s longevity and healthy way of living. These are things such as: diet; lots of movement throughout the day; having a spiritual practice; ways they destress; strong social ties and connection; belonging; laughter and contentment; and sense of purpose.
There are also some of common nutritional pieces that contribute to their amazingly healthy and vibrant lifestyles. Please realize that each one of them has their own specific diet depending on what is available to them seasonally and based on where they are geographically. But when broken down, these are some of the most common factors:
- They have a plant-based whole food diet. There really are no processed foods. No packaged sweets or salty snacks, no drinks loaded with sugar and no processed meats.
- There are lots of fruits and vegetables, and they could be eating up to five to 10 servings a day.
- Nuts are one of the more popular snacks.
- A cup of cooked beans or lentils a day is very common. They are finding that this daily serving of beans is one of the cornerstones of every longevity culture.
- They eat 100% whole grains such as farro, bulgur, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal and whole cornmeal.
- They do eat meat but really only about five times per month, and the serving size is about 3 to 4 ounces.
- Their main beverages are water, coffee, tea and wine (which is loaded with polyphenols).
- They eat the smallest meal of the day in the late afternoon or early evening and stop eating when their stomach is about 80% full.
It sounds so simple, and what they are putting in their bodies is just that – clean and simple! There are so many different diet recommendations out there that have a variety of approaches depending on the philosophy. To figure out what works for each one of us is a very bio-individual approach. However, one thing is consistent when looking at the most nutritious way of eating, and that is cutting out the processed foods and sugar and sticking to as many whole foods as possible.
True health and well-being are always multilayered, and to be the healthiest we can be is integrating all aspects that contribute to our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. The Blue Zones are amazing examples when it comes to health and wellness – what our priorities should be. For more information, visit www.bluezones.com.
Jennifer Roe is a master level Red Hat Qigong practitioner, an integrative nutritional health and wellness coach, a facilitator of women’s circles, programs and more. Her office is at Pura Vida in Durango. For more information, visit www. puravidahealthcare.com and/or www.thehealingroe.com.