longevity tips from the Blue Zones

Longevity Tips from ‘The Blue Zones’

In this post I’m going to introduce you to the best longevity tips I’ve come across.

To me they’re the best partly because they actually seem like low-key fun… (But maybe that’s just me? Ha.)

I’ve always had a fascination with the topic of longevity, which I define as maintaining quality of life for longer.

I even enrolled in a self-paced Longevity Coaching program last year.

And of course I’ve also had my perspective deeply shaped by the most well-known and mainstream group of books on the subject of longevity – the Blue Zones series.

What is the Blue Zones series? 

Blue Zones is a series of 3 books (so far) written by Dan Buettner and published by the National Geographic Society.

The core premise of the series has been to study the most well-documented centenarian-producing cultures in the world.

There are 5 of them so far:

  • Oliastra region Sardinia (first place for centenarian men)
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica  (second place for men)
  • Okinawa, Japan (first place for women)
  • Ikaria, Greece (my favorite, more info below)
  • Loma Linda, California (community of 7th Day Adventists)

What’s cool to me is that on this list each place has its own recipe for how to promote health & longevity. 

Contrary to the claims of health fundamentalists of all stripes, there is no one way to get to age 100.  Instead there are a variety of ways.

A Longevity Lifestyle Sounds Like a Pretty Good Time

Most Blue Zones elders eat a small amount of meat on a weekly, not daily, basis.  Though many 7th Day Adventists in Loma Linda, CA are vegetarian.

In Ikaria, the longevity culture most aligned with my personal tastes, red wine and strong coffee are regular parts of daily life.

Residents also consume a wide variety of herbal teas made from any of the 200 edible “weeds”, aka: herbs, that grow on the island.  Many of these herbs have diuretic properties, which help the body eliminate and excrete waste.

Goat milk, goat cheese, honey, and a wide variety of vegetable-based dishes are common, as well as lots of olive oil.

Fish is rarer than you’d think, as many islanders live in Ikaria’s rocky inland.

The Blue Zones ultimately attempts to distill the common principles for aging slowly across all 5 longevity cultures.   This is the master pattern, the cracked code for longevity.

And author Dan Buettner lists them in The Blue Zones Solution as The Power 9.

The Power 9 – or top longevity tips – are as follows:

1. Move Naturally:  For long lived people it’s not that they generally join gyms, but rather “they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving.”

2. Purpose:  Having a sense of purpose is correlated with up to 7 extra years of life.

3. Downshift:  Develop daily routines to shed stress. “Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap, and Sardinians do happy hour.”

Michael Pollan’s famous adage “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” links the next two points together beautifully: 

4. 80% Rule: Stop eating when you are 80% full. Also eat your largest meals earlier in the day, and your smallest one at night.

5. Plant Slant:  Eat meat only one or 2 times a week. “Beans are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets.”

And finally:

6. Wine @ 5: Moderate drinkers outlive nondrinkers, the trick is keeping it to 1-2 glasses a day, with friends or food.

7. Right Tribe: Choose social circles that support healthy behavior, cultivate mutually beneficial lifelong friendships where you can.

8. Community: “Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4 to 14 years of life expectancy.” “Denomination doesn’t seem to matter.”

9. Loved Ones First: Put loved ones and family first and cultivate caring close relationships with both aging parents, spouses and children alike.

These Longevity Tips Will Serve You Well

Personally, I feel that these longevity studies are precious gifts to humanity, and that the above recipe for longevity, is also simply a recipe for a pretty good life.

Sure, go ahead and wear your (natural, mineral based) sunscreen too, for young-looking skin.

But ultimately, aging slowly and living a long time is about health and happiness from the inside out.

It’s about keeping your mental faculties and internal brightness.   It’s about maintaining good health and your ability to make contributions and be productive for longer.

In short, I encourage you to make your desire to age slowly, less about vanity, and more about quality of life.

What do you think?

What inspires you most about The Blue Zones? 

Are there any other compelling longevity tips you’ve come across?

Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

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    • Sara Marie
    • August 8, 2016

    This is great! It is nice to know that a little bit of alcohol, especially wine, can help a girl out in life 😉 and increase her longevity too…but also, I am getting from this that connection is huge. My biggest love is ‘nature’, it makes me feel so connected to Life and releases me from the maddening human world and nurtures me in a way that most people can not. However, I love my women’s group and the support that I have received from a group of ladies with the same intention ‘to love and support one another’ has healed me in ways that I never thought possible. Even though not all of the ladies are easy to ‘love and support’, there is humility in the trying to. We are all bozos on the same bus.

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