I don’t know about you but I’m planning to live to 100, strange goal I know and subject to all sorts of things outside of my control. However, if I am going to live to 100, I want to do it with a healthy body and mind. In my quest to find out how to give myself the best chance of doing this I discovered blue zones.
What is a blue zone?
Blue zones are the areas of the world identified by scientists as having the longest lived, healthiest inhabitants. Demographers, Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, originally highlighted Sardinia as the region with the highest concentration of male centenarians in the world. Dan Buettner, National Geographic fellow and author, took this work further and identified a total of 5 places in the world where people lived the longest and healthiest lives:
1. Sardinia, Italy
2. Okinawa, Japan
3. Nicoya, Costa Rica
4. Ikaria, Greece
5. Loma Linda, California
What do I have to do to live healthily to 100?
Scientists have suggested that 20% of our health and longevity is determined by genes. So what influences the other 80%? Researchers looked at the 5 regions for any common denominators and identified the following principles:
· Build movement into your daily routine – basically stay active without having to think about it (does that mean I don’t have to go to the gym ever again- Yay!)
· Have a reason to get up in the morning – Okinawans call this “Ikigai” whilst Costa Ricans talk about “Plan de Vida” (does getting up for coffee count?)
· Everyday find a sanctuary in time – pray, take a nap, remember ancestors, do Happy Hour! (this is what the Sardinians do and they know their stuff!)
· Stop eating once you are 80% full (this might take some doing!)
· Eat a plant-based diet with occasional meaty treats! (doable!)
· Have a drink with friends (when you say a drink do you mean one? YES! Moderation is the key here)
· Be part of a community – a secure social network of like-minded people which provides a sense of belonging
· Put family first – this includes both extended and immediate family, make time for the people in your life with a common history whether they’re blood relatives or not
I’ll get back to you in 50 ish years and let you know how I got on!
What to find out more read: Dan Buettner – The Blue Zones: Lessons for living longer from the people who’ve lived longest or go to www.bluezones.com