Have you ever wondered what you can do to live a longer, healthier, and happier life where you can remain strong and mobile right up to your 80s and 90s? Well, we can find out what we can do by looking at the habits of the longest-living people in the blue zones. Here you can see what their secret is as well as how you can implement some of their daily habits into your life.
What are blue zones?
Blue zones are the areas around the world where the longest-living people live. These people live well into their 90s and more importantly, they don’t often suffer from diseases like cancer and heart disease. So why do these communities live longer and happier lives compared to the rest of the world?
Where do the longest-living people live?
Below are 5 blue zones that we can learn from.
Sardinia happens to be the first blue zone that was identified. In this cluster of villages, people are very isolated, both geographically and culturally meaning they still harvest their own food and hunt. Their rich diet includes a lot of beans, vegetables, fruits and only a small proportion is meat. They also drink goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk. Similarly to other blue zones, they put family first and walk a lot.
Once named the land of immortals, the islands are located south of Japan. One key thing about people in Okinawa is they have a strong sense of purpose in life which they call ‘ikigai’. They also follow a plant-based diet including a lot of sweet potatoes. They also garden to grow their own food which also helps reduce stress and stay active as well as get plenty of sunshine which also helps maintain healthy bodies due to the Vitamin D production.
Loma Linda, California
Those living in this area of the USA live around 10 years more than the rest of America. They don’t smoke or drink alcohol. They always ensure they do moderate exercise such as walking which helps reduce stress, they don’t eat a lot of meat and they find time to be with like-minded people.
Ikaria is a small island in Greece, in the Aegean Sea. Its population is mostly free of chronic diseases and dementia. This is explained by their lifestyle which is slow-paced and connected to nature. Ikarians eat a Mediterranean diet which includes a lot of fruit, vegetables, and beans. Social connections, afternoon naps, and occasional fasting are some other things that contribute to their longevity.
Nicoya, Costa Rica
Just like in Okinawa, these Costa Ricans have a strong sense of purpose which they also call ‘plan de vida’. The water they drink is hard water meaning it contains a lot of calcium. In the evenings they only have a light meal, they frequently visit their neighbors and get plenty of sunshine.
8 things the longest-living people have in common
These blue zones share a lot of similarities which helps us understand what the longest-living people do to live into their 100s. Here a 8 habits of communities in the blue zones:
1. Their diet is primarily plant-based
This means reducing the amount of meat, fish, and dairy products in your diet. These can still be consumed but in moderation. They also cook their own healthy meals with plenty of nutritious ingredients.
2. Movement is a natural part of their day
They are always walking or moving their body in some way. Whether that is doing gardening, walking to their neighbors, or going to the shop.
3. They value community
Family and friends come first of everyone in the blue zones. It’s clear they value social connections which helps them lead healthier and happier lives.
4. They have a sense of purpose in life
Having a drive and a purpose in life helps people remain strong. Sometimes this sense of purpose comes from living with their family and grandkids. But finding something that keeps you moving every day is important for a healthy life.
5. They get adequate sleep
It’s important to get plenty of sleep every night to help your body recover.
6. They reduce stress
Low stress helps keep some diseases at bay. People in the blue zones tend to live a stress-free life because they are surrounded by nature, family, and friends and they always stay active.
7. They only eat until they’re 80% full
You should stop eating once you are 80% full because it takes around 20 min for your brain to realize you are full. This habit also helps with weight loss, living a longer life, and staying healthy.
8. They grow their own fruit & vegetables or have access
Many of the longest-living people have their own garden. This not only is a source of healthy food which can be maintained throughout the year but it helps them stay active and connected to nature. Even those who don’t have their own garden, have access to fresh fruit and vegetables through their local shops.
How to implement these into your own lifestyle
- Keep moving (schedule reminders)
It can be hard in our modern-day life especially if you have a job that requires you to be in an office or be in front of a computer but there are things that you can do to help get more mobile. For example, set reminders to remind you to stand up and move every hour
- Disconnect from technology when you are with your family and friends
Prioritise family and friends because humans need human connection. So when you are with them, don’t be distracted by the online world. Stay present.
- Exercise more often
Walk often, stay active, and don’t sit down as much. Go to the gym or start doing a sport. Find ways to stay active that work for you.
- Change your diet to be more plant-based
This is easier for some people depending on where in the world you live but try to reduce your meat consumption. Start by making small changes in your diet a few days a week.
- Join like-minded groups
It’s clear that those who live longer are surrounded by positive people. In most cities, it can be really hard or quite easy to find your community in a city depending on how you look at it. You just need to keep trying new things until you find your people. Joining sports clubs or clubs based on your hobbies is a good place to start
- Eat more vegetables & fruits
Start shopping at your local fruit and veg shop where you can get access to local produce.
- Take a break and relax
It’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced environment of our modern society. Try to find time to wind down and relax. This could be on your own or with family and friends. But you should use technology during this time.
- Grow some herbs or vegetables at home
Depending on if you live in a home or an apartment, you can grow your own vegetables and herbs. Herbs are easy to grow even if you live in an apartment.
- Use a smaller plate
This is to help you eat less during your meals by having less food on your plate.
A healthy life goes hand in hand with a sustainable life
If you noticed, these habits are not only things that help people longer and happier but they are also things that help the environment and society as a whole. By implementing these habits daily into your life, you will feel stronger and happier but will also be doing your part to help the environment. For instance, by eating less meat, you are following a more sustainable diet and by walking more you are lowering your carbon footprint.
The truth is, the secret to living a longer life isn’t a secret at all. It’s how we used to live before our society got so modernized and technology took over. If we reconnect with our roots and start living more true to ourselves with more social connections, fewer mobile phones, and more movement, we can be that much happier and healthier.