You have probably come to realise that I’m very interested in how other countries and communities live their life and what we can learn from them to help us live the best life we can. Longevity is something we are all interested in I’m sure. We all want to live for as long as possible and stay as healthy as we can in the process. But is it within our control ? Is there anything we can do to help get a little closer to those larger numbers?
Do you want to know how you could live to be hundred plus. I’m not sure if hundred is a bit of a long shot but I’ll do my best to try. There are five areas in the world where they do just that. Is it a coinsidence or is it their lifestyle that sets these areas from the rest ?? Dan Buettner, author of The Blue zone has spent years studying these areas and lifestyle in order to see how these people live over a decade longer than many other areas.
The five countries that are in this blue zone are:-
- Barbagia Italian island of Sardinia
- Loma Linda in California
- Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula
- Ikaria, an isolated Greek island
- Okinawa, Japan
I’m intrigued to find out just what these people are doing in order to live such healthy and long lives. So I thought I’d share what I’ve found and created a little list of simple steps we could all take onboard to hopefully live a healthier and longer life.
What are the Simple Steps to Longevity ?
You don’t have to be in the gym seven days a week or set ourselves major fitness goals, we just need to get out and moving more in our everyday life. Doing the housework, walking the kids to school instead of taking the car, walking the dog can all help with generally getting more active and lead to a much healthier and longer life. The longest lived people live in environments where they naturally move more in their everyday life without thinking about it too much. I think as a country we have settled into a more sedentary lifestyle and it is easy to take the easy way out. We need to break this habbit and get back to moving our bodies more.
Feel like you have a purpose
The Japanese call it ikigai and the Costa Ricans call it plan de vida but both basically translate into “why I wake in the morning” having a purpose in life has a proven link with living longer. It is nice to think that people need us and rely on us in life, I know It gives me the kick up the bum to get stuff done whereas if I wasn’t doing it to help others I might just give it up and not bother.
Ditch the stress
Everyone has to deal with stress, even in Blue zone countries but its the way they deal with the stress that sets these countries from the rest. Each day they have routines in place in which they follow to elevate the stress. The Sardinians enjoy a glass of wine with friends to celebrate happy hour, the Ikarians have a nap, whilst in Loma Linda in California they enjoy a quiet walk. Just taking time out for 10 minutes a day could have a genuine impact on the longevity of our life, just sitting quiet for a few minutes a day concentrating on our breathing can make all the difference to our stress levels.
Stop being greedy
We live in a country where food is everywhere and can be accessed around the clock, larger portions of food, high street food chains and buy one get one free offers at supermarkets means we’re getting greedy when it comes to food. The Blue zones have a totally different relationship to food and how much they eat, believing that we should adopt a 80 / 20 ratio when it comes to eating. 80 % fullness leaving 20 % neither full nor hungry, this healthy practice of calorie restriction and mindful eating promotes health and longevity. Try cutting portions by eating off smaller plates or filling you plate with more vegetables is a great way to improve our diet and eat much for healthy.
Family comes first
The blue zone countries keep their family very close and aging parents and grandparents are much more likely to live close by or even in the same house. Meal times are spent all together and families spend lots of time together. Spending time as a family is very important and trying to eat together is something we can try to adopt although this is something most busy families struggle with, I know we do but we do try to do it at least few times a week. Family time is very limited when you are a busy working family but trying to spend time together really does help to keep everyone connected. Sunday is our day when we try to do something altogether, its the one day we don’t have to go or be anywhere so its the ideal day to spent time as a family.
Adopt a plant based diet
I’m not saying you turn vegan over night but blue zone countries do eat much less meat and dairy, probably only a few times per month. Studies show that reducing 3 % of our daily calories from animal protein to plant protein is associated with a much lower risk of death. Beans were found to be a staple in all five blue zone area and are super cheap and easy staple to add to most meals. The Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, beans, fruit, and nuts, and low in meat and dairy and has lots of links with the five blue zone areas so maybe adopting this kind of diet is the key to a longer healthier life. Just adding a few more veggies to your plate could really help.
Enjoy a little tipple
I’m not talking a bottle of wine every night, but people in the blue zones do drink alcohol moderately and regularly. A glass of red wine with your evening meal could help. Yes you heard me right a little alcohol isn’t going to harm you and could actually help you live longer. Getting together and drinking a glass of wine with family and friends in a social setting is a wonderful way to reduce stress and improve our wellbeing too. Cheers to that !!
Having a sense of belonging to a group or faith can play a big part in the simple steps to longevity. These blue zone counties all seem to attend some sort of faith based community, but simply surrounding yourself with good like minded people can have a big impact on our health, attending groups or clubs with a friends or colleagues can bring us closer together with a great sense of belonging.
“Living longer and feeling better is the sum of a few small easy choices you can incorporate into everyday life.”—Dan Buettner
Aging in a natural process we all go through, we should think of it as a privilege we should not take for granted, some people do not get this privilege and living to become a big age is not something we all have a choice in or have control over. We all know that fatal illnesses or a tragic accident can completely turn any families life upside down and is something we have no control over but trying out these simple everyday routines could really help us live the longest life we can.
I know some might say that living to hundred is not something they have ever thought about or not sure they would want depending on their health, but I see growing older as a gift and something we should all be thankful for. Living the healthiest and longest life you can is everyone’s wish surely ??
Is Longevity something you’ve ever thought about ? What do you think about getting older ?
Until next time