Revisiting the Blue Zones

My great aunt Barbara is 98 years old. She lives alone, still plays bridge, does her own shopping, and really seems to enjoy her life. She's fairly agile, and one would have a hard time calling her frail. She gets to enjoy 3 generations of descendants in her family. She really enjoys her life.

While none of knows how long we will live, I suspect most of us would agree that we would like to live whatever years we have with a minimal degree of disability, pain, and limitation. We'd like to live our years as healthy as possible.

If that's true for you, you need to know about the Blue Zones.

What are Blue Zones?

I think this research is really cool. Dr. Dan Buettner and his team have identified 5 areas in the world where people seem to live, on average, significantly longer and healthier than the rest of the world, and they have studied what makes these people unique. The story goes that they originally circled these 5 areas on the map in blue marker, hence the name Blue Zones. From this research, there are some solid insights we can use to help us live healthier and better.

The five Blue Zone regions found were:

  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California (Seventh-Day Adventist community)
  • Icaria, Greece
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Take Away Lessons
Dr. Buettner reported 9 life lessons related to the lifestyles of the Blue Zone cultures:

  1. Moderate, regular physical activity. Generally low to moderate intensity but frequent throughout the day.
  2. Living with purpose. Know why you get up each morning.
  3. Stress reduction. Daily rituals to reduce stress part of culture (think taking one hour to nap, read, or otherwise decompress).
  4. Moderate calorie intake.
  5. Plant-based diet. Commonly legumes are a major component of the diet. Meat in moderation (or not at all in Loma Linda).
  6. Moderate alcohol intake. Especially wine.
  7. Engagement in spirituality or religion. Belonging to some faith group and attending services associated with increased lifespan.
  8. Engagement in family life. Family concerns generally put ahead of other concerns.
  9. Engagement in social life. People of all ages are socially active and part of the community.

If you would like more information about Blue Zones and health, try these links here and here.

This week
Which of the listed lessons do you already incorporate into your lifestyle? Which do you need to work on? How might you take a step in that direction this week?


Dr. Topher Fox


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