Many of us yearn for the secret to living over 100, but the concept seems elusive and random. There’s no single fountain of youth secret for centenarians – it all boils down to lifestyle. That’s where “Blue Zones” come into play.
“Blue Zones” are mysterious regions of the world where humans have unusually long life spans and statistically, live the longest. You might think there’s some complicated solution to living such a long life, but the secrets can be attributed to several factors that are simpler than you think.
Where are these Blue Zones?
These zones have nothing in common geographically. They’re located in:
- Okinawa, Japan
- Sardinia, Italy
- Ikaria, Greece
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
- Loma Linda, California
Main factors of commonality in Blue Zones
All of these places are near the ocean, have pleasant year-round temperatures, and are in remote locations. They’re all quite small as well, so it might be time to kiss that big city lifestyle goodbye.
Although these five locales vary greatly when it comes to culture, they all share the likelihood of aging gracefully and living a long, fulfilling life free of disease. Here are the fascinating things that keep Blue Zoners healthy for so long. As Americans, we could definitely do with a few pointers.
Most of these places celebrate and practice plant-based diets. What do they have in common? Potatoes (sweet or regular), whole grains, green vegetables, nuts, and beans. Surprisingly, the last is the most effective in lengthening your lifespan.
Additionally, meat does not have a significant presence in Blue Zones. Especially beef. Cow dairy also isn’t too popular (instead they opt for goat and sheep milk), and a maximum of three eggs are eaten weekly.
Instead, Blue Zones focus on hydration: water and herbal tea, to be specific. In Okinawa, you can expect a steaming cup of green tea to be the norm, while Greece offers a sumptuous herbal blend with ingredients like mint or rosemary.
Community is everything
One of the biggest causes of death in old age is loneliness. Don’t get us wrong – you can totally be a single senior and loving life. But being social and having a strong community is essential. They both provide us with a stronger sense of purpose.
Having a social network makes you accountable, from catching up with the barista at the local coffeeshop to doing a weekly yoga session in the park with friends. It gives you a reason to wake up in the morning and keeps your brain active. People naturally crave social engagement, so indulge away.
When we isolate ourselves, we stress out about feeling worthless and not having anything to live for. But this mentality and loneliness can shave nearly a decade off your life. Relationships are everything, so get to know your neighbors!
Take a walk
The worst thing about living in North America is that while a few of us live in cities and get our steps in daily, many people still drive and don’t have any form of physical activity. Many of these Blue Zone locations feature steep hills and require a significant amount of both downhill and uphill walking. You can try to switch to public transit to start walking more, but adopting a dog is also a fantastic way to incorporate more walks into your life.
So there you have it. There isn’t some forbidden serum or pill that 100-year-olds are passing around to stay alive. It’s just listening to your gut and prioritizing happiness and health.