The Blue Zones
Blue Zones are geographic locations around the world comprising communities of people that have identifiable factors that clearly lead to longevity. By studying these factors an approximate formula for longevity with certain key attributes can be ascertained.
Typically, people who live in blue zones reach an age of 100 years and older at a rate that is ten times that of the United States....ten times!
Chronic disease rates from modern lifestyle killers such as Heart disease, Cancer and debilitating diseases such as Dementia and Depression are also significantly less or virtually unknown in Blue Zones.
Why is Understanding the Blue Zones so Important?
A life that is full of stress and poor health...things which are all too common these days is not really the kind of life that most people would like to equate with longevity. However, a life that is healthy, vibrant, connected and worthwhile is a life that puts longevity in a favorable context. You'd want to 'stick around' for a life like that right?
If you could be healthy, disease free, unmedicated, vibrant, useful and happy into your 80's, 90's and beyond, why wouldn't you want this?The inhabitants of these Longevity Zones routinely live these kinds of lives.
Inherited Disease and Health
less than 25% of how long the average person lives is dictated by genes...that means that 75% is up to you...the things you do...how you choose to live...what you choose to eat...how physically active you choose to be...your environment...where you live...your relationships...how happy you are.
Environmental factors are known to impact your lifespan significantly as a result of scientific data gathered during twin studies that show the impact that environment has on separated identical twins who share nearly identical DNA.
The Importance of Healthy Food
Food can actually alter your gene expression. Food (natural food such as vegetables and fruits) contains natural chemicals that are necessary for the proper operation of your body's physiology...impacting your health and well-being, reducing your susceptibility to disease.
If the presence of natural plant chemicals can alter your gene expression...so can a lack of them!
This is the idea behind Modernization Disease Syndrome. This syndrome exists in populations who have adopted
a fast food...fast life mentality and exhibits the many chronic degenerative diseases that have become so commonplace in modern society including heart disease and cancer.
Dan Buettner...founder of the Blue Zones concept teamed up with National Geographic and leading global longevity researchers to discover and highlight pockets of global population where inhabitants routinely are living a scientifically measurable superior existence than is typically found in 'advanced' industrialized countries.
Where are the Blue Zones?
There are currently five that have been identified as of 2009. Sardinia – Italy Okinawa- Japan Loma Linda – California Nicoya Peninsula – Costa Rica Ikaria – Greece
There are multiple factors at work in the Longevity Zones that account for the associated long lifespan of the inhabitants but there are also some specific factors that are of interest that single each zone out as being somewhat unique.In Sardinia the research team found a wine with the world's highest-known levels of antioxidants.In Ikaria Greece they discovered herbal teas that lower blood pressure. In Okinawa Japan they discovered a community that values mutual support networks which add an extra six or so years of life.In Nicoya Costa Rica the Meso-American diet which includes beans, squash and corn tortilla assists the Nicoyan people to routinely live into their 90's. Surprisingly, mainland USA has it's own Blue Zone, proving that even in the home nation of unhealthy fast food you can actually create your own Longevity Zone. Loma Linda In California...home to a community of the Seventh Day Adventist church...a protestant christian denomination and a university hospital turns out to contain the longest-lived population in the United States. Incredibly, the Loma Linda community are routinely living an additional decade of good life more than the rest of the USA! The reason is simple...they consistently eat a healthy vegetable and plant based diet, value nature and the out-doors, value community and have a spiritual focus.
Unfortunately, up and coming generations are really going to struggle to get any where near the healthy life-spans of Blue Zone Inhabitants.
How do I know this?
life expectancy of children and youth is actually projected to drop in the face of rising obesity statistics, Heart Disease, Cancer, Depression and reduction in immune system health as a consequence of poor nutrition and environmental stress and toxicity.
Is declining health in your 20's, 30’s, 40’s...and beyond with abnormal increased risk of developing debilitating chronic or fatal diseases acceptable to you?
Although the news media often likes to trumpet the increasing life-span of adults as a consequence of modern medical therapeutics, the difference between this and Blue Zone Longevity is quality and additional quantity.
The statistics regarding the improving lifespans in the populations of modernized countries are not compared to those of Blue Zone populations...only to an existing country's historical data. Most industrialized nations are showing improvement as compared to say the average lifespan of an adult in the 1950's but the quality is not measured.
An adult who is heavily medicated and has undergone several traumatic and invasive medical procedures may well live longer than someone from a previous generation as a consequence of medical science and advanced disease-care but this in no way measures quality or takes into account the impressive lifespan of those in the Blue Zones who are un-medicated, have not undergone traumatic surgeries (because they don't suffer from 'common' degenerative diseases) and still out live their non-Blue Zone contemporaries
Clearly, there are key elements to these longevity zones that lead to a superior lifestyle outcome...what are they?
Blue Zone Keys to Longevity
For health and longevity...Have a life purpose or plan. Work your ‘purpose’ but down shift – work less – enjoy recreation.Eat to the 80% rule. Stop eating when you're 80% full. Make sure you're diet is rich in fresh vegetables.Eat much less meat. If you drink alcohol include a single glass of red wine daily or red grape juiceMaintain regular daily physical activity. You don't need to be a super athlete but you do need to work your muscles, heart and lungs. Your body was made to move.Don’t spend too much time alone. Belong to a social network where you easily 'fit-in', feel at home and are accepted. Have regular contact with this network.Don’t ignore you're spiritual beliefs. Maintain connection with your ‘tribe’, family or get yourself 'adopted' to one that is supportive.Give up smoking & recreational drugs. Check with your Doctor and make sure any pharmaceutical drugs that you are currently taking are absolutely necessary and are still required.
Why not Create your very own Blue Zone where ever you are right now starting today. Set a goal to become vibrantly healthy, physically capable, mentally alert, happy and long lived.
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