It is well established that we are living longer but the trick of course is to age well, remaining active and vital. Diet plays an important role in our long-term health. There are many schools of thought on what type of diet is best for longevity and a recent re-release of The Blue Zones Solution, by Dan Buettner of National Geographic, studies how communities with a higher number of older residents eat and live.
The book explores the connection between healthy older populations and the diet and lifestyle of communities in Greece, Japan, Italy, Costa Rica and California. These “Blue Zones” around the globe share many attributes dubbed the Power Nine:
- Moving naturally – keeping active through daily living
- A Purpose driven life
- Downshifting – finding time to de-stress every day
- The 80 per cent rule – stop eating when nearly (80%) full
- Plant based diet – small portions of meat only a few times a month
- Wine at 5 – one or two glasses of wine or other alcohol in the evening
- Right Tribe – social circles that support healthy behaviors
- Community – belonging to a faith
- Loved Ones First – taking care of family both young and old is a priority
The Seventh-Day Adventist community of Loma Linda is unique in North America where many residents live into their 90s and beyond. The church recommends a vegetarian or biblical diet which focuses on fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. Alcohol, drugs, caffeine and tobacco are to be avoided and “pure water, fresh air and sunlight” are prescribed to promote a healthy life. The city has almost no fast food restaurants and the market doesn’t sell red meat, poultry or seafood.
If we could follow the diets of those in the Blue Zones, it has been suggested that North Americans could drop their rates of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. In 2009, an average American city, Albert Lea, Minnesota, adopted the Blue Zone lifestyle as part of a pilot project.
After one year, the participants added an average of 2.9 (projected) years to their lives. There was also a notable drop in healthcare claims and work absenteeism. For more information about the Blue Zones project visit www.bluezones.com .
Blue Zone Foods
- Dark Chocolate
- Coffee (morning)
- Green Tea (afternoon)
- Wine (after 5 )
- Beans and Tofu
- Olive Oil