In my continuous search for new findings in the health domain, I recently came across a TED given by Dan Buettner about the study he and his team performed.
To find the path to long life and health, they studied the world’s communities whose elders live strong and healthy to record-setting age (100 and older), calling them Blue Zones. Buettner identified five geographic areas with such amazing statistic: Okinawa island (Japan); Sardinia island (Italy); Nicoya (Costa Rica); Icaria (Greece) and the Seventh-day Adventists community in Loma Linda, California (he really wanted to find one in US…patriotic spirit :P).
The study allowed researchers to discover and bring out 9 particular lifestyle habits that keep people in these regions active till and past age 100. Not going to test your patience any longer, so here you are: discover the 9 rules of longevity, that really works! (tested and approved by some generations of people)
1. Move! And when I say move, i don’t mean having an intense sport activity, but rather moving naturally and regularly during your everyday activities. Creating a daily physical routine is the best way to maintain your health in good condition. The best example is walking. Just imagine: only 30 min of walk per day reduces the risk of stroke by 20% to 40%! And I am not even talking about the mood improvement, healthy weight maintenance and even creativity boost! The key word here is regularity!
2. Know your purpose. In Japan, there is a tradition, called “ikigai”, pushing people to find a meaning in what they are doing. I’ve actually written recently a post about it, How to find your ikigai. Why is it beneficial for health? Because it gives you basically a purpose to wake up every day. In our complicated world, knowing at least this can help to feel less “lost”, decreasing the everyday life stress and living therefore longer!
3. Slow down and learn to manage your stress. So, let’s talk precisely about stress, that appears to be THE disease of the 21st century and that creates a lot of damages to your health, psychological but also physical. Researchers discovered that in Blue Zones people found ways, how to deal with it: meditation, sport, positive attitude and friendly relationships. So, relax and take it easy… to live longer!
You are what you eat, one wise man said. The following 3 rules concern the nutrition that represents, quite logically, an important part of longevity rules.
4. Plant-based diet. It was proven, through this study and many others, that plants are the best base for our diet. They contain (contrary to stereotypes) enough proteins for muscle mass build-up and maintenance, as well as many other elements to keep your body (and mind) in good condition. And without surprises, researchers noticed that in all the “blue zones” people have a mostly plant-based diet. Around 80 % of their food comes from the locally grown vegetables and cereals. Meat is consumed only rarely, for special occasions. And as the study has shown, it works pretty well for life expectancy increase 😉
5. 80% rule or Hara Hachi Bu. Coming from Japan (you guess it from its name 😉 , this rule is basically saying “Eat until you are 80% full”. Which is very clever, taking into account that the brain takes about 20 min to understand that you are full. Meaning that if you eat till you are full, in 20 min your stomach will get the message that it has overeaten. And you don’t want it, right?
6. Pleasure of eating. It is not all about calories. Pleasure is also a very important element of nutrition. So take a maximum from it! Drink some wine if you like it or eat a dessert. But conscientiously, enjoying it at 100%!
But it is not only about food and exercise. Not only about body and physical health. Your mind and soul need to be taken care of too. The study showed that in “blue zones”, people give a lot of importance to family, friends and maintenance of human relationships in general. So, the last 3 rules concern the spiritual side of health, which reveals to be as important, if not even more, than the physical one.
7. Family first. In all observed regions family represents a major life value. They take care of their elderly and support their children. The fact that it allows them to live longer can be easily explained: strong and caring family relationships help you to face the daily issues, knowing that someone is waiting for you at home, caring about you. Life becomes less stressful and less stress means more life!
8. Belong. Faith reveals to be also a super important longevity factor, giving people the mental power to realize their goals. In terms of the human race survival, religion and other beliefs played an essential role, allowing people to rely on something, even intangible, to accomplish their short and long-term life objectives*. So, believe in something: God (or Gods), science, nature, yourself… but believe. It helps, really (tested and approved by myself).
* I will for sure write a separate post to develop this wide topic.
9. Connect with the right community. Finally, belonging to the “right tribe” is also crucial. It was proven that if 3 of your best friends are obese, you have 50% better chance to be overweight. On contrary, if they practice sport, eat healthy and have a positive attitude, you have much more chances to do the same. Thereby, the lifestyle of your friends and close relationships has a major impact on your own! That might look obvious, people however often don’t take this element into account when trying to understand the cause of their health problems…
The “blue zones” people got it all. They understood that an individual cannot exist by himself and that we are all a small part of a bigger entity called society which influence us, whether we want it or not… Interesting fact: did you notice that all studied regions have a community-focus societal style (and not an individual-focused)? Food for thought 😉
To conclude, I just want to point out that it is all about some small things that you implement in your everyday life. Move, eat wisely, do not worry too much and connect with your community. It is that easy! (ok ok, I totally understand that some guys will have to rethink their whole life.. 😛 )
On this happy note I would like to wish you a very nice evening.