In 2004, National Geographic teamed up with some of the world's best longevity researchers. They looked at places where people not only live the longest but also have incredibly good quality of life, practically right to the end. They were nicknamed Blue Zone communities. Which communities were identified? Barbadia (Sardinia, Italy), Ikaria (Greece), Okinawa (Japan), Seventh Day Aventists @ Loma Linda (California, USA), Nicoya (Costa Rica)
One of the results of the documentary, was the setting up of the Blue Zones Project! What does the project aim to do? Reverse Engineering Longevity! So, what do people living in Blue Zone communities do? Nine things:
- They eat wisely. Natural, nutrient-dense food that is available to their local communities and eating what's in season. They eat food designed by nature to be be good for them based on different physical demands created by seasonal weather. And yes, there is a strong bias towards plant-based foods.
- They follow the 80% rule. This means they eat small meals -- typically till they are 80% full (the Japanese are well known for this). Often these communities have bigger meals earlier in the day, eating more lightly in the evenings.
- They know how to "downshift" - they relax and unwind, to manage day to day stress. They do this through naps, practicing gratitude or having "happy hour" (See point #4)
- They practice wine at 5 - yes, they drink a small or moderate amount of alcohol or wine to unwind, typically at the end of the working day. They unwind.
- They move naturally. They don't consciously exercise, but they use they are physically active as part of every day life, right through advanced years of age.
- They live with purpose. They have a reason to get up in the morning. "Retirement" is often a word that doesn't exist in their communities.
- They create right tribes. They have communities or groups that support healthy behaviors - from food, to moving, to socializing, to having additional support.
- They put loved ones first. Beyond having a life partner, giving children time and love, this notion of putting loved ones first, included parents and grandparents.
- They belong to faith-based communities. Attending 4 times a month leads to 4-14 years longer in life expectancy.
How many of these do you practice?