What is a Blue Zone?

We live in a country that has pretty clean water, plenty of food to eat and fairly decent air to breathe.  In most parts of our country there are many trees to purify the air and new measures are being taken to create less pollution in the soil, water and air.

Health care is accessible, health information is also available so, one would think we could easily live to be 100 in this country.  Other countries have several pockets where people actually live beyond 100 and they aren’t set up nearly as well as our country.  So, why is our life expectancy over 20 years less than many of those countries?

Through the years those pockets of people have been researched carefully and thoroughly.  Those pockets have become known as Blue Zones.  Although we don’t know how that phrase originated, we do know there is a common thread of similarity between all of them.  We also know that there is only one Blue Zone in the United States.  It is in Loma Linda California. Other countries that have blue zones include: Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; and Nicoya, Costa Rica.

What Makes a Blue Zone?

 
In 2004, Dan Buettner teamed up with National Geographic and a group of dieticians, geneticists, anthropologists and historians who went to these blue zones to find out why people lived so long and lived so happily.

They came up with 9 lessons that all of those blue zones had in common:

  1. Move naturally.  Don’t run marathons or pump lots of iron.  Just plant and maintain a garden, take long walks daily, ride a bicycle, play with your grandchildren, and walk while talking on the phone.  In other words, just keep moving.
  2. Know your purpose.  Have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
  3. Kick back. Find ways to reduce and remove stress.  Whether it is through prayer, listening to music, reading a good book, taking a nap, or enjoying time with your friends and family.
  4. Eat less.  Stop eating when you are 80% full.
  5. If you drink wine, make it without sulfites or nitrates.  Of all of the blue zones, only the Seventh Day Adventists didn’t drink one or two glasses each day.  All of the other blue zones had quality wine each day.  But not much!
  6. Eat less meat.  Beans are a cornerstone of most centenarian’s diet.
  7. Have faith.  Denominations don’t seem to matter, but attending a faith-based service 4 times a month does.
  8. Power of love.  Put families first including committing to a partner and keep aging parents and grandparents nearby.
  9. Stay social.  Build a social network that builds healthy behaviors.

Although the Hallelujah Diet (as well as the Seventh Day Adventist group in Loma Linda, CA) doesn’t ascribe to any meat or wine, the blue zone project still has great value in that what we have been teaching for nearly 25 years is being validated every day all over the world.

  • They only consume sugar from fruits and vegetables.
  • They snack on nuts, seeds and fruits.
  • They never eat processed foods.
  • They rarely eat meat.

Diet is a key factor in quality and quantity of life.  It is also a personal choice.  No one forces you or I to eat foods we don’t want to.  Let’s learn from these centenarians and begin to add the missing components into our lives to create a long, fulfilling life.

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4 comments

  1. This article is important in that it not only supports the idea that diet plays a primary role in our health, but you also have to attend to your mental and spiritual health as well. Eating well, spending quality time with your family, keeping active (both physically and mentally), and setting goals for ourselves helps to keep us motivated.

    It is almost shocking that a country that can be so advanced in some areas can also be so far behind other countries when it comes to health and wellness.

  2. I’m excited to learn about what people in the blue zones are doing to create a happy healthy life.

    This article verifies that diet is one of the factors that contribute to a healthy life. Other factors are also important. It is helpful to have a balanced life.

  3. Angela Solomon

    It is so important to follow a good diet plan in your every day life this artcle helps to remind us of that importance.

  4. This article was great. Those nine lessons make sense to me. I love it sense I’ve cut back on the meat. I have a lot more energy with just eating vegetables and exercising too. Thanks for great information.

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