Blue Zones are regions of the world where people live the longest. A National Geographic Explorer by the name of Dan Buettner searched out these areas in an attempt to research the reasons behind why the people lived longer. In his book titled Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest, he passes on his findings and what the rest of the world can learn from the Blue Zone diet and lifestyle.
The Blue Zones
Buettner identified four regions of the world as Blue Zones. In these areas, a remarkable percentage of the people live to be 100 or older; these centenarians not only live long, but also vibrant lives. The Blue Zones include:
- Sardinian mountain town of Ovodda: An island in the Mediterranean off the coast of Italy
- Okinawa: Okinawa is made up of a few dozen, small islands which cover about 1,000 kilometers in the East China Sea.
- Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica: Nicoyans have the distinction as the longest-living peoples in the Americas.
- Loma Linda California: The high Adventist population eat a vegetarian diet and have a strong belief system.
Diet in the Blue Zones
While the Blue Zone regions are not near one another, they do have some things in common. They are rich in healthy unprocessed foods and are low in animal products.
For the most part, the Sardinian people eat a Mediterranean diet which includes:
- Fava beans
- Meat is eaten on Sundays and special occasions
- Red wine
- Sheep and goat milk products
- Whole grains
Along with what they eat, the Okinawan people diet is also influenced by the belief that they should only eat until 80 percent full. This naturally restricts calorie intake which has also been linked to longevity. The Okinawan diet includes:
- Brown rice
- Soy products including miso and tofu
- Sweet potatoes
Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica
Along with the foods eaten in this region, the water contains high mineral content including calcium and magnesium.
Loma Linda California
Loma Linda differs from the other Blue Zones which are found in remote areas. Loma Linda has a high Seventh Day Adventist population. Their longevity is attributed to a strong faith and a vegetarian diet which includes large amounts of:
Other Blue Zone Factors
Along with eating a healthy diet, there are other factors common to the Blue Zones that may play a role in living a quality life for longer.
These areas encourage a sense of community as well as family ties that remain close and connected. These types of social relationships may help reduce stress.
Another thing these Blue Zones have in common is that most of the people who live the longest have a history of living an active life. Many of them worked physical jobs like fishermen, farmers, cowboys, etc. for most of their lives and even when older they remain active.
Sense of Purpose
These regions also hold strong spiritual beliefs. These beliefs not only influence how they live, but also give the people a sense of purpose.
The Blue Zone Lifestyle
The word "diet" most often conjures up an eating plan followed for a specified period of time. Once the goal of the diet is reached, people often return to their old ways. That's why many successful diet plans remind people that the change in eating should be embraced as a new way of life. For the people living in the Blue Zones, eating healthy, staying active and socially connected are a way of life. Their belief systems give them a sense of purpose. That's something we can learn to do no matter where we live.