Parts of the world where people are living into their 100’s, and by living, they are living life well - sharp to the very end! These blue zones are scattered amongst parts of Japan, Greece, Italy & even in the United States! Their diet & lifestyle practices have been studied, diet being a key ingredient to their longevity, however there are some differences between their diets; some abstaining from all caffeine, spices and meat, others drinking up to a litre (or more!) of wine with lunch and some with diets rich in soy & sake.
(please note I’m not here to encourage you all to drink litres of wine on your lunch break, ha!)
The food they eat is nourishing, unprocessed, quality produce & nutrient dense. They consume a largely vegetable based diet, including fruits, vegetables, beans, fish, tofu and meat.
In Greece its the mediterranean diet, with a focus on potatoes & beans as well as a green vegetable known as ‘horta’. This green weed-like vegetable is believed to be highly associated with their healthy ageing.
The Greeks also recommend napping, getting intimate regularly & drinking wine - however the quality of their wine is on point! They incorporate a lot of unintentional exercises into their day from gardening, walking, cooking and cleaning.
In Japan, they are eating a vegetarian diet, but whats a key factor here is that they have purpose. The elders of their communities are highly valued and respected, they have valued social connections and are intentional about maintaining relationships & friendships.
A recent study by Harvard also concluded that Social connections not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Loneliness can take up to 8 years off your life expectancy, compared to that of socially connected people.
In Sardinia, the men generally live longer than the women. It it believed that this comes down to stress. The women, tending to the house and caring for the children have slightly higher stress levels than the men who spend the day in the fields and the sunshine, watching their flock. They have a long lunch together with family that can last for hours, in this time they engage in social connection, have a relaxed and rested approach to eating (not eating rushed or on the run) and drink up to a litre of quality red wine. This is usually followed by a siesta - oh how good does this lifestyle sound!
In the States, there is a small population of people within Loma Linda, California. A community of Seventh-day Adventists who thrive on a vegetarian diet, with no ‘stimulating’ foods; sugar, caffeine or even some spices like chilli. They exercise daily, and again have many valued and intentional relationships.
We have much to learn from these cultures with how they approach life, how they value each other and how they take the time to rest.
Yours in health,