The first time I heard about the Blue Zones was a couple of years ago on a podcast (where I learn a lot of things, to then go into a vortex of research) and I just remember thinking wow what a cool thing to research – who lives the longest, where are they in the world and what are the commonalities. Dan was also looking for these areas where the people don’t have lifestyle diseases like heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes. As a Wellness coach I always want to help people feel better, live longer and happier lives, so to me these 9 commonalities just make perfect sense physically and mentally.
These are the five places that have the highest rate of centenarians;
- Ikaria, Greece
- Okinawa, Japan
- Ogliastra Region, Sardina, Italy
- Loma Linda, California
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Amongst these five places, here are the 9 things that Dan found they all have in common.
Movement is part of living
Movement is part of their day. From walking up their hilly streets, to building and maintaining their vegetable gardens and not having cars or mechanics to help them out in their tasks – these 9 places all move a lot during the day. Some of these area sit on the ground, use the stairs daily and their trips to the store are on foot. When they are choosing to exercise they do what they enjoy.
Purpose for Life
Each of these places have a strong understanding around their purpose for life, they know the reason they wake up every day. They know their purpose and role in their families and communities. Apparently, living with your purpose allows you to live seven years longer. Let me know if you know what your life purpose is? Also, if you don’t I would like to know too, maybe I could share how I discovered mine. The Okinawan’s and the Japanese have a word ‘Ikigia‘ which doesn’t have a direct English translation but it means ‘the reason for being’.
Stress Relief and Self Care
Each place have their own way to manage stress, find gratitude and take care of themselves whether it’s an afternoon siesta or a glass of red in the afternoon. They also pray and take time to slow down.
Each of these places have a way of eating to 80% and not to over eat as well as eating their smallest meal in the evening.
I have noticed in my travels that a lot of other countries don’t have this ‘binge eating/drinking’ habit that I see so often in Australians and America. It is something I have done countless times. I actually went through a program with my Crossfit called Precision Nutrition which is a 12 month nutrition course which leads into waaaaay more than just nutrition. Part of the course focused on finding/discovering/learning what 80% feels like. I can speak from experience that when I am on point with this habit I feel amazing, light, energetic and none of that brain fog that comes with over eating. A quick anatomy tip, your body actually doesn’t know that you’re consuming food for 20 minutes, so really we should take 20 minutes to consume a meal. Set a timer. It’s hard. I was once a food inhaler, like my dog Ziggy. He 100% didn’t taste his food and I am shocked that it doesn’t come out the other end exactly as it is in its packet.
We all eat too much. Next time you eat, have a think if you really have to finish off your plate (you’re an adult, mum isn’t going to tell you to eat it all so you can have dessert). Start to question your eating habits. Start listening to your body for its hunger signs. Are you actually hungry or are you just eating because it’s ‘lunch time’? Or are you eating because 4 hours has passed and you should be hungry by now? Try to eat just when you’re hungry.
We are taught that breakfast is as soon as you wake, lunch is mid day and dinner is a couple of hours before bed. Have you ever asked yourself why? Start to question when you eat and how you feel.
These places are generally rural and they don’t have access to those foods that are in packets, full of colours and colour numbers, preservatives, and what ever else those numbers mean – these places eat mostly from their gardens and either from their farm or the ocean near by. Their diets are high in a wide variety of fruits, vegetable, legumes, seed as well as mostly seasonal.
So even though I am not currently drinking and last weeks blog was on alcohol, I have to put this in because it is now of the commonalities. And for those who don’t know me (well a previous version of Teagan) I used to love a glass of red at the end of the day with my meal. Apparently drinking a wine at the end of the day, with friends and a meal will help you live longer. The important message to take from this is 1-2 glasses of high quality wine increases longevity paired with a meal and shared with friends.
All of these areas have a strong sense of community. Having a sense of belonging does wonders for the soul. For me, because I move around a lot I find I lack this one a bit, so I really need to work on it. Some of these areas like the Okinawan’s, when you are born you have five people that you are always surrounded by who help you out when you need.
Thats the 9 commonalities of each of the five places who have the most centenarians. If you would like to look into it a bit more to increase your longevity, here are some links.
Here is a TedX Talk from Dan Buettner.
Here is The National Geographic summary of the five places.
Until next week,
Sending Love + Peace
Teags Lee x