Life expectancy in the US is estimated around 80 years, a paltry number 43 in the world, despite the advances of modern medicine. And according to some reports by the CDC, US longevity has been declining in recent years. All the more intriguing that there are some areas, even within the US, where people live longer and happier lives above 90 years, with the highest concentration of centenarians. These are sometimes called the Blue Zones. They include the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, Okinawa in Japan, Ikaria in Greece, Sardinia in Ital, and Loma Linda in California ( Seventh-day Adventists). Residents of these regions have very different cultures, but they share similar habits. Below are some of the things that people in the Blue Zones do, that are believed to be associated with living longer.
Many of these areas are located by the sea, and the diets closely follow the Mediterranian Diet This heart-healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, legumes, and healthy fats like olive oil. Most meals contain beans, whole grains, sweet potatoes, and nuts. Beans are number one on this list because it is consumed more than the rest of the plants on this list. In fact, a cup of beans can increase your lifespan by two or four years. Since these areas contain a variety of beans, it doesn’t matter which kind is consumed. Nevertheless, dried beans are better than canned beans because they are more nutritious.
In all these Blue Zone areas, you may notice that the residents are not big on dairy and beef products. They don’t consume eggs or red meat quite as often as other people do. Most residents prefer drinking tea when they feel a sudden urge to consume something. Another beverage that is popular in these areas is wine. Most of the residents drink two glasses of wine every day. However, there is a notable exception: the people from Loma Linda rarely indulge in alcohol or caffeine intake due to their religious beliefs.
Another interesting observation about the Blue Zones is that the residents know each other and live in tightly-knit communities. No one feels lonely or left out, and that adds some years to their lives. People from these areas always wake up knowing that they have a unique role to play in the community. That gives their lives meaning and enables them to look forward to every moment that they spend with their loved ones. That sense of belonging reduces unwanted stress and keeps these people healthy, enabling them to live longer.
If you visit Sardinia, Ikaria, and Okinawa, you will notice they are very remote areas with steep terrains. In the past, most residents preferred to walk to and from the local business area. It is this habit that has remained with them for so many years. The residents from these Blue Zones prefer to use their legs more often as a way to get to where they want. This mundane activity has allowed them to remain active and healthy throughout their lives.
One common behavior for people living in the Blue Zones is that they don’t like to eat alone, and they take their time. Someone would rather wait until his or her friends or family are around so that they can eat. This is because meal time is also time to bond and catch up. Older folks in Sardinia and Italy are known to take three-hour lunches with their friends almost daily. You, too, should try taking time to enjoy your meals, spending time with friends and family, and all that you have been blessed with. Savor the food and make lasting memories.
There is no mystery to living longer. Most of the things on this list are rather basic and common sense. Therefore, set the intentions for a more balanced lifestyle, more quality time with loved ones, and try to enjoy every moment -- because that is what ultimately determines your lifespan.