I’ve been running at top speed the last few weeks…something I normally try not to do. This led to a few sleepless nights. And then I got a cold. I hardly ever get a cold and I didn’t want to give in. I pulled out all my “get rid of the cold” tricks and put them into play: garlic, extra sleep, rubbing my feet with vicks vapor rub, meditation, laughter yoga and my smile therapy. Plus, I put aside all my “Zen Mama” work at night and I read a good book. One that inspired me to get better faster and live a longer life with no disease. The book that inspired me is The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner. The book shows that by improving lifestyle, “people can look and feel better at every age and add 12 years to their life expectancy”. In fact, I like it so much, I’m going to give the book away to one of you.
In 2004 Dan Buettner wrote an aritcle for National Geographic about people who were living longer lives without debilitating diseases. He traveled around the world with lovgevity experts and found pockets in the world where people were living to 100 years – 10 times more often than people in the US. He and his team found five places in the world and tried to find their secrets to a healthy longevity.
The book is an easy read with lots of stories about the Centenarians. Here are the 5 identified Blue Zones:
This island is off the coast of Italy and is home to some of the longest living men. They come from an ancient culture, have respect for elders and loyalty to family. They also drink a stong wine called Cannonau.
Okinawa is part of small culster of islands off the coast of Japan. Here the researchers found Japan’s longest living people. They love family, small amounts of food and finding a purpose in life.
Loma Linda, CA
The Seventh Day Adventist’s community in Loma Linda, has the most centenarians in the US. Faith, purpose and eating a mostly plant based diet might be part of their secret.
Ikaria, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea is another Blue Zone. People here are three times more likely to reach age 90 than in the U.S. They don’t get as much cancer, heart disease or much dementia. This chapter started with one of my favorite stories. Short version: a man with cancer (who had immigrated to the US) came back to his old home, Ikaria, to die at 65. When Dan Buettner met him, he was over 100!
Nicoya Costa Rica
This area of Costa Rica has some of the healthiest centenarians. They were hard workers with many gardens, their family lived nearby and they have a “plan de vida”! (purpose)
Dan Buettner’s team of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers, and epidemiologists found that all these cultures shared these 9 traits:
1. Move Naturally – Centarians don’t go to a gym. They move naturally, bending, walking often gardening. They are outside all the time, moving! Yoga is a great activity helps to keep moving naturally if we don’t do as much as these centenarians.
2. Have A Purpose – In Okinawa it’s “Ikigai” (icky-guy) and in Costa Rica call it “plan de vida”. In other words… “It’s why I wake up in the morning.” Know that a sense of purpose is worth more healthy older years.
3. No Stress – Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. I love what Dan Buettner writes:
“Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour.”
4. 80% Rule – “Hara hachi bu” – the Okinawans say this before their meals. It’s translation means to stop eating when they are 80% full. It’s a 2500-year old Confucian saying said before meals. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it. All Blue Zone people eat their largest meal at mid-day and their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening.
5. Plant based diet – Most Blue Zone people can’t afford to eat a lot of meat. Meat is eaten maybe five times per month. Most eat their own vegetables or buy them at a local market.
6. Wine @ 5 – Most people in the 5 Blue Zones (not the Adventists) drink alcohol regularly, 1-2 glasses a day. They often have the drinks with friends, family and often with food. This time helps them let go of stress and keep them connected. An interesting fact: Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers.
7. Belong In A Community – Most centenarians were part of a community and connected to faith, whether it is a church based or praying to the ancestors. That didn’t seem to matter.
8. Loved Ones – Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones have close ties to family. Grandparents and other relatives are a big part of their children’s and grandchildren’s lives.
9. Be Part Of the Right Tribe – The centenarians chose to be with people who also have their healthy behaviors. Obesity, unhappiness, smoking and other bad habits can be contagious. So can positive thinking, eating healthy and exercising. Chose your tribe carefully.
Here is Dan Buettner when he spoke at TED in 2009. This video is 22 minutes long but totally worth it! You’ll feel better after watching it.
I’m giving away a copy of The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest away! Leave a comment below to win Dan Buettner’s book and let me know what you do or would like to do to live a longer and happier life.
I found this information and the images found http://www.bluezones.com
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