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Blue Zones - Traveling the World to Find the Secrets of Longevity

Blue Zones- Traveling the World to Find the Secrets of Longevity

By Alexandra Dusenberry, MS, RDN

In the early 2000’s, a team of three researchers began their quest to discover the places in the world where people are living the longest and to determine what these people are doing right in terms of diet, lifestyle, and mindset. Dan Buettner, Michel Poulain, PhD, and Gianni Pes, MD,PhD studied and visited a handful of regions around the world where an unusually high amount of the population lives to 100 years old or more. The researchers certified these regions as “Blue Zones” and interviewed many local centenarians to find the common threads among them that play a role in longevity. Today, there are five officially certified Blue Zones-

Ikaria, Greece

Sardinia, Italy

Okinawa, Japan

Nicoya, Costa Rica

Loma Linda, California

So what sets these Blue Zones apart from the rest of the world? What sets them apart is actually what they all have in common- the people living the longest tend to their health holistically and simply. The mind, body, and spirit are all nourished on a daily basis in ways that are approachable and attainable, even for someone who is 100 years old.

Eating for Longevity

Centenarians in the Blue Zones make plant foods the foundation of every meal. This provides the body with adequate fiber, helps to reduce inflammation, and supplies a rich source of disease-fighting antioxidants. A wide variety of plant foods supplies our good gut bacteria with the fuel they need to flourish in order to support our digestion, immune system, mood, and more.

Another essential aspect of their diet is keeping added sugars low to minimal. The sugar intake in all five Blue Zones is 10% of their calories or less. Some regions maintain as low as 1% added sugar in the diet. Keeping our sugar intake at a maximum of 10% of our calories per day helps manage blood sugar, keeps our liver healthy, and prevents disease-causing inflammation.

Living for Longevity

For optimal health and well-being, movement is a critical part of our routine. We certainly see this as a common thread throughout the Blue Zones. Movement is built into each day, whether going for a walk, dancing, or tending to the garden, centenarians do not stay stagnant! They stick to activities they love rather than dread (no endless hours on a treadmill here). Lifelong movement keeps the heart healthy, helps to maintain strong bones, and brings down stress.

Time outdoors and in nature is a pillar of wellness for centenarians. Not only is nature very calming, but having time outdoors allows many Blue Zones centenarians to have optimal vitamin D levels all year long. Vitamin D is a critical nutrient for bone health, our immune system, and maintaining healthy levels of inflammation.  For vitamin D support, we recommend K-Force by Ortho Molecular, which combines 5,000 IU of vitamin D with vitamin K to work synergistically in the body. K-Force Vitamin D – Cal-a-Vie Boutique

Mindset for Longevity

Centenarians maintain a lifelong sense of purpose, as they call it in Nicoya, a “Plan de Vida”. Knowing why you wake up in the morning and having a drive to contribute to the greater good maintains our internal spark. According to the Blue Zones researchers, knowing one’s propose can add up to 7 years to your life!  

No matter how old we are or where we live in the world, stress is a commonality for all; for those that are living vibrantly to 100, they make it a priority to manage their stress. Whether it is taking time to nap and rest, spending time connecting with loved ones, or even enjoying a balanced happy hour, centenarians maintain a practice of bringing their stress down. From a longevity standpoint, keeping stress and cortisol low helps to prevent disease. Unmanaged stress can lead to inflammation, and inflammation is a root cause of many age-related diseases. Taking time to down shift is essential to living long and well.

Feeling chronically stressed or even burnt out? Adaptogenic herbs like ashwaganda, holy basil, and rhodiola can help improve stress resilience, promote healthy cortisol levels, and enhance sleep quality and good mood. TruAdapt by Ortho Molecular contains this adaptogenic blend of herbs to help keep stress levels managed. TruAdapt – Cal-a-Vie Boutique

 

For even more in-depth information about the Blue Zones, check out the collection of books authored by researched Dan Buettner: The Blue Zones- 9 Lessons for Living Longer, Thrive-Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way, The Blue Zones Solution- Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People, The Blue Zones of Happiness, and The Blue Zones Kitchen.

Books - Blue Zones, All by Dan Buettner

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