All over the world there are populations of people who live more than the average age of 100 years. The areas where they live are called “Blue Zones”, or the Blue Zones of the world. The blue zones are:
- Sardinia (Italy)
- Ikaria (Greece)
- Loma Linda (California)
- Nicoya (Costa Rica)
- Okinawa (Japan)
People living in one of these places live an average of 90 or even 100 years, in good health, without medication or disability.
What are the secrets of these people and how can you follow their successful model? The following 9 common features distinguish the Blue Zones.
Do moderate, regular exercise every day. This doesn't mean you have to work out in a gym all the time, but rather it means staying active and building regular exercise into your life. Simple things like walking to the mailbox, walking across a parking lot, and limiting the amount of time you spend each day.
Purpose in life
The people from Okinawa, Japan call it "Ikigai" and the Nicoyans call it "Plan de vida". Knowing why you want to wake up in the morning (and jump out of bed) can make you healthier and happier and can give you an extra seven years in life expectancy.
Reduce the stress
Stress is part of life, but the Blue Zones centenarians have stress-relieving rituals built into their daily routine. Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap, and Sardinians take happy hour.
The 80% rule (no, not Pareto)
Moderate caloric intake was found in each of the Blue Zone communities. One of the principles that people mainly use is to stop eating before you are completely full and thus maintain a healthier weight. They stop eating when their stomach is full before 80% and eat their smallest meal in the early evening. So lower that calorie intake by 20%!
A moderate calorie intake can be a significant amount of food, especially if you eat a plant-based diet. Beans are the cornerstone of most Blue Zone centenarian diets. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains round out the rest of the diet, and meat is eaten in small amounts.
Wine @ 5
Again, moderate, but regular consumption is key. In the case of the people of the Blue Zones, wine is the alcohol of choice. As a woman, limit yourself to one drink a day and two drinks a day for the men. Ideal for socializing with friends or family and during dinner.
Group of like-minded people
Joining a spiritual or religious group supports the sense of belonging and keeps you involved in things other than yourself. This is important to maintain purpose, positive attitude and resilience to change. Being part of a community adds four to fourteen years to life expectancy. Belonging to a group with which you meet regularly has a positive influence on your health!
Family and loved ones first
Involvement in family life allows you to give and receive positive moments. Having close and strong family ties (with spouses, parents, grandparents and grandchildren) is very common among Blue Zones centenarians. So put family and loved ones first.
Blue Zone groups are engaged in a social life that supports everyone. This in turn leads to a positive environment that promotes acceptance and personal growth. The surviving people and 100+ year olds in the world thus have good friends and strong social networks.
Do you already meet these 9 characteristics?