Researchers have been studying areas they call "Blue Zones" for decades. These are geographic pockets of the world that, despite increasing chronic illness in the rest of the developed world, have the highest percentage of people who live past 100 years of age and have a remarkable lack of chronic disease.
These areas are:
🇺🇸 Loma Linda, California, USA
🇨🇷 Nicoya, Costa Rica
🇮🇹 Sardinia, Italy
🇬🇷 Icaria, Greece
🇯🇵 Okinawa, Japan
What do these areas, so vastly different geographically, have in common?
Most of these communities have a few things in common:
They eat a diet rich plant foods. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, locally farmed grains, and beans and legumes. If they eat animal products, they are largely caught or raised by the people who consume them.
Many people in these communities spend a lot of their days on the move. They are either working physical jobs like farming, or choose to walk or cycle to get around their towns. However, they also understand the value of quiet time and true relaxation. These populations tend to make rest and relaxation a part of their lifestyles.
Community and family are strongly emphasized in most of these geographic regions of the world. Family dinners, a “village” mentality with many people coming together to help one another, and a focus on supporting and cooperation among neighbors are incredibly common.
In Okinawa, Japan and Nicoya, Costa Rica in particular, people believe in finding and embracing their reason for being (ikigai or plan de vida, respectively) is . Roughly translated, each of these phrases means to find the reason that life is worth living. One may be lucky enough to find that their career is fulfilling and can fit that description, but if not, these cultures believe that you can identify and live for some other thing, even if you aren’t able to dedicate much time to it. Typically it ends up being an entity or activity outside of yourself.
We can take some of these lessons from communities around the world and incorporate them into our own lives. Although these pockets are isolated geographically or in some other way, we can still use the tenets as a guidepost for establishing habits that support our longevity instead of detract from it. The lessons seem clear: reducing stress, leaning into community, moving your body and nourishing it with protective foods, and finding things that we love and light us up.
I'd love to hear how you plan to integrate some of these practices into your own life, to increase the quality and quantity of your years!
Looking for more info on Blue Zones? Check out this great resource! https://www.bluezones.com/live-longer-better/
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