Want to look better, feel healthier, age younger, and live past 100? Then check out the Blue Zones, where this is far more common than in the United States. Five Blue Zones have been identified and include Sardinia, Okinawa, Loma Linda, Icaria, and Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. The top three killers of Americans including heart attack, cancer, and stroke, are much lower here. In addition, not only are life years extended, but healthy life years as well. Women can also expect a much more pleasant trip through menopause. But what do these areas from across the world have in common? By checking out the below 25 longevity secrets from the Blue Zones you can find out. Lifestyle Longevity Secrets Learned From the Blue Zones These secrets to longevity involve a change in lifestyle from the Blue Zones that can seem difficult at first but can have huge effects on your health.
- 1. Family : We say that family is everything, but the people in the Blue Zones truly use it as a key to longevity. Going beyond the traditional nuclear family, they keep grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. close. Many of them are even within walking distance. With such a large support group nearby, it is no wonder that the people of the Blue Zones live longer, happier lives.
2. Purpose : If you don’t have a reason to get out of bed in the morning, you are not living the Blue Zone life. Whether it is a job, game, garden, or family to tend to, longevity in the Blue Zones is traced back to having a purpose. By both having one or more purposes and devoted each day to them, life is more worth living.
3. Take It Down a Notch : Keeping up with the Jones’s may be an American staple of life, but it is a rarity in the Blue Zones. In fact, working less hours, taking more breaks, and finding time to rest all contribute to longevity in the region. In fact, they are often known to vacation much more than the typical two weeks. If you are ready to do just that, check out these top vacation sites from Kiplinger.
4. Social Network : No, this does not mean your Facebook or online role playing friends, it means an actual social network. Whether a sports team, volunteering, or even a sewing circle, having lots of friends can lead to longevity. It also gives you purpose and something to look forward to. If you need help getting started try Volunteer Match or the YMCA.
5. Believe : Believing in God and having a spiritual life is an important longevity secret from the Blue Zones. Not only does it give a purpose, but also a sense of community and belonging. The power of prayer has also been shown to have positive health effects. If you need help exploring your own religion or learning about a new one, you can visit a site like Beliefnet.
6. The Family Dinner : Not just a staple for family oriented sitcoms, the family dinner can actually have longevity benefits. Not only does everyone share in preparing, eating, and cleaning after a meal, but since the food is prepared at home, no extra additives or anything harmful make it into the food. To get more help for preparing and sharing visit here for tips, clips, and challenges from TV Land.
7. Give In To Snack Attacks : Because people from the Blue Zone snack regularly, they are able to eat less throughout the day. Those who starve themselves between meals are more likely to eat more and less healthy. This site has loads of help for all kinds of snack lovers including couch potato, soda, and the 3 o’clock slump. If you need to know which snacks to stay away from, click here.
8. Knowing is Half the Battle : Because Americans and most of the world outside the Blue Zones don’t know where our food comes from or what’s in it, it’s time to learn. Find out how much damage that morning latte or lunch cheeseburger is doing by visiting a site like Calorie King. Simply type in a food to get the nutritional facts. You can also join the community if you need help losing weight.
- 9. Hara Hachi Bu : This Okinawan rule is also known as the 80 percent rule. Unlike the five second rule in the U.S,, this rule states that you should eat until 80 percent full and then stop. The reduced calories lead to healthy weight and less stress on your digestive system.
10. High Plant Diet : No secret, we have been told for years that fruits and vegetables are an important part of any diet. And in the Blue Zones they are a not-so-well-kept secret to longevity. In this study reported on by Dr. Mirkin, 70 percent of those eating the high plant diet had normal blood pressures, compared to 45 percent on the fruits-and-vegetables diet and 23 percent on the control diet. Because each plant eaten has different nutritional properties, it is difficult to tell how much longevity to expect, but the benefits can include lower risk of cancer, diabetes, stroke, and many others.
11. Eat Chocolate : You read that right, one of the better longevity secrets learned from the Blue Zones is to eat chocolate every day. In fact, according to this article the cocoa found in chocolate can benefit vascular health, as an anti-platelet therapy, and other benefits. Be sure to get a chocolate that is free of preservatives and artificial ingredients. The article has much more.
12. Drink Red Wine : Need something to wash down that chocolate with? Then grab a glass of red wine for both stress reduction and health. It contains several antioxidants and an ingredient called resveratrol that can help in both heart health and longevity. While the people of the Blue Zones have no problem with moderation, those who have or may develop an drinking problem should not try this secret. It is also said that red wine from Sardinia is the best.
13. Green Tea : Not only did the ancient Chinese drink for health but also for medical purposes. Naturally decaffeinated, it was used to treat headaches and more. Other diseases it can help include multiple sclerosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and others.
14. Sweet Potatoes : No longer just for Thanksgiving, many people in the Blue Zones enjoy them on a regular basis. They are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and even contain unique proteins. They are also an excellent substitute for the starchy, carbohydrate laden potatoes most people eat.
15. Pecorino Romano Cheese : If you love mozzarella or cheddar, try switching it out for this cheese. It contains high amounts of Conjugated Linoleic Acid, an Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid naturally found in certain food groups, which shows bioactive properties for humans. Benefits include a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases, the enhancement of the immune defenses, and proven anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties. Goat cheese also has similar properties.
16. Pomegranate Juice : It took the United States 25 million dollars in research to learn this longevity secret already well known in the Blue Zones. Pomegranate juice can help heart health, prostate health, and proper erectile function. An excellent non-alcohol alternative to red wine for containing many of the similar antioxidant properties.
17. Swiss Chard : Much like Popeye’s spinach, this super veggie has many healthy benefits. Known as “the root of the Ancients,” even Aristotle wrote about its properties. It contains a great deal of vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, sodium, and calcium. These can help with digestive tract diseases and lower cataract risk.
18. Olive Oil : Now that you have all of this delicious food, what to cook it with? If you live in the Blue Zones, a staple of cooking is olive oil. The beneficial health effects are due to both its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidative substances. Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling bad cholesterol levels while raising good levels. No other naturally produced oil has as large an amount of monounsaturated as olive oil -mainly oleic acid.
- 19. Just Do It : No longer just a commercial catch phrase, the secret to exercise from the Blue Zones is simply to do it. If still in doubt, read this story about a 97 year old man in France who still runs marathons. Born in 1906, this 2008 article reports that he still trains and reports to a job at a plumbing business every day.
20. Walk it Off : One of the easiest ways to exercise, walking helps burn calories and increase metabolism. The AARP reports that walking can help manage weight, control blood pressure, help the heart, and more. And of course it is better with a loved one or even large group of people.
21. Bicycle : Not is it only good for the planet and for keeping your gas bills down, it can also lead to longevity. People in the Blue Zones are often known to bicycle to the houses of family and friends, the market, cafes, and more. It is also easier on the joints, and when done outdoors, can be a relaxing experience.
22. Play More : When did we lose our love of play? If you live in a Blue Zone, never. Playing with children, be it your own, nephews, or grandkids, can have health benefits for both you and them. It helps the children’s imagination, metabolism, and social skills. Adults also increase metabolism, burn calories, and improve heart health, all while having fun. Visit this site for loads of games you can play with kids of all ages.
23. Yoga : Not just for new agers, yoga is practiced by many in the Blue Zones for longevity. It is a key exercise because it focuses on strength and balance without putting too much stress on bones or joints. It also helps with weight loss and stress reduction. There are also similar benefits to Tai Chi and meditation.
24. Garden for Longevity : It may not sound like a traditional exercise, but tell that to the centurions that swear by it. Benefits include stress reduction, low impact, better balance, flexibility, and Vitamin D from the sun. Not to mention that the fruits, vegetables, and herbs grown in a garden can be used to help in your Blue Zone longevity diet. If you need help getting started try How Stuff Works for an easy guide.
25. Have More Sex : Both a workout and stress reducer, sex can have many health benefits for both men and women. According to this article from WebMD, sex can also boost your immune system by giving you higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections. Other benefits include better cardiovascular health, pain reduction, reduced risk for prostate cancer, and more. It is recommended for couples to partake once or twice a week. However, as we all know, sex with the wrong person can do more harm than good.
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