What are Blue Zones? They are places where an extraordinarily high percentage of natives live to 100 years old. One out of three people live past 90 in the Blue Zones. Only one out of nine baby boomers here will accomplish that feat. Blue Zone people usually live on remote islands. They have 20 percent less cancer than do Americans, half our rate of heart disease, very little diabetes and virtually no Alzheimer’s disease. How do we explain this? By learning and adopting their anti-aging secrets, we can also live longer and be free of disease.
There are things we can do and things we can’t do to imitate the Blue Zone life style. What we probably can’t do is live on an isolated rocky island, tend goats, and drink goat’s milk every day. Goat’s milk is rich in a blood pressure lowering hormone called tryptophan along with other antibacterial compounds. They also have a special Greek honey which has anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties. But everything else they do we can try to emulate including their 6 secrets of long life!
So, let’s examine those 6 secrets of long life which lead to a healthy old age free of disease:
1. Their food: They eat the Mediterranean diet which is high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and fish. Their fruits and vegetables are always fresh and organic. Because they are fresh and eaten soon after picking, they are higher in compounds that decrease cancer and heart disease. The grain portion is sourdough bread which has complex carbohydrates and helps to ward off diabetes. They sip herbal teas all their life which lowers blood pressure and decreases heart disease and dementia. More of us need to adopt this sort of diet.
2. Their sense of time: They don’t worry about time. Work will get done when they’re ready to get it done. This concept lowers stress which reduces arthritis and wrinkles. Most natives in the Blue Zones work for themselves so nobody is pushing them to accomplish more — not even themselves! This is so important! We all need to relax, stop being a type A personality and lower our stress levels.
3. Their exercise: Blue Zoners walk everywhere. The have to, they live in mountainous terrain without any vehicles. They work farming their land which is more exercise. Consistent exercise is important for all of us. The minute you stop exercising, you start to grow old.
4. Their nap: Most villages in Blue Zone territories are very quiet during the afternoon siesta or nap. It doesn’t have to be a long one. A regular 30 minute afternoon nap decreases their risk of a heart attack and it will do the same for you.
5. Their social bonding: In the Blue Zone, natives support one another and like to get together often. Family and village support not only helps them to survive, strong social connections help to lower depression, mortality, and even keeps their weight down. Do you have a strong social life? If not, join some groups or re-connect with your friends more. Humans were not meant to live isolated from others.
6. Their religion: In the Blue Zone, natives attend Greek Orthodox rituals. Regularly attending a religious service of any kind can lead to a long life span. It’s also part of the social bonding that we need.
Of course, not smoking, not eating to excess, and not drinking too much wine also contribute to Blue Zone longevity. Many of these long life secrets are possible in our own lives. Those secrets keep the Blue Zoners healthy and free of disease to a ripe old age. We may not live on an isolated island in the Mediterranean but if we adopt some of the Blue Zone secrets, we too can live longer. Just imagine yourself, alive and healthy at the age of 100, playing with your great grandchildren. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?