Want to live to 100? Try These 9 Blue Zone Lifestyle Tips
How would you like to live to 100? It’s a wacky plan for many of us; reaching centennial status happens for less than 2 in 10,000 people in the United States. And experts agree that when it comes to years, the quantity doesn’t matter if you don’t have the quality.
“The question is if you live to be 100, what kind of 100 are you going to be? Are you going to be bedridden and unable to take care of yourself? Or are you going to be reasonably independent and alert?” said Steven N. Austad, Ph.D., who studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms of aging at the University of Texas Health Center at San Antonio. “For me, this is what best health practices can really have an impact on.”
So how do you live more than 100 years in a healthy and happy way? People in five distinct regions of the globe seem to have an answer. They are called the blue zones: Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Ogliastra region, Sardinia; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. And while their strategies are different and unique, they have one thing in common: their lifestyle. They don’t reach that age because they diet or exercise religiously. They do this because their lifestyle optimizes the length of time body and mind can exist on this plane.
According to Blue Zone researcher Dan Buettner, residents of Blue Zones make nine lifestyle choices that help them live long and healthy lives. These evidence-based common denominators are called the Power Nine.
1. Move around in normal life.
While we spend a lot of time and money worrying about gym memberships, body conditioning routines, and strenuous activities that we need to make room for in our busy lives, people living in the blue zones do not train, they move naturally, without thinking. on this subject. Their way of life drives them to move throughout the day, whether it’s hiking in the mountains while raising goats, or tending to the gardens that provide their vegetables. Find ways to move more throughout the day in your own environment, rather than setting aside time for an hour of fitness after 12 hours of sitting.
2. Create a purpose in your life.
In the blue zones, people know why they wake up in the morning. They feel content with their life, they know where they are going and why, and they are in no rush to get there. They don’t have to prove themselves to anyone. Feeling the purpose of your life can add up to seven years of life expectancy.
3. Less stress.
Stress leads to chronic inflammation, and this inflammation is associated with every age-related disease. There’s nowhere in the world where people don’t experience overload and stress, but the difference is that people in the blue zones know how to decompress before they burn out. Some take naps throughout the day, others pray, others take just a few minutes to remember where they came from.
4. Follow the 80 percent rule.
Ditch those late night snacks and dine early. The inhabitants of the blue zones have their smallest meal of the day in the early evening and eat nothing else the rest of the day. They stop eating when they feel about 80% full. The gap between not being hungry and feeling full contributes to weight consistency and keeps the body healthy.
5. Eat more plants, especially beans.
To get enough protein, many of us eat a lot of meat, but the inhabitants of the Blue Zone only eat meat about five times a month. Research shows that eating red meat can lead to premature death. However, you can maintain a mostly plant-based diet by including more beans in your meals: beans, lentils, black beans, and soybeans are especially nutritious. You should eat about half a cup of beans per day to maintain your longevity.
6. Drink wine.
Wait, is that a trick? No! People in all but one of the blue zones drink alcohol regularly… in moderation, of course. It turns out that moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers, but, again, this has to be done with purpose. Those who live the longest drink one or two glasses of wine a day, with friends and with food. Not drinking all week and then gorging on the weekend doesn’t count.
7. Keep the faith.
Bad news for all atheists: Research shows that people who attend some sort of church service once a week live four to 14 years longer than those who don’t. The type of faith does not matter. Experts believe it might have to do with a sense of belonging to a community bigger than you.
8. Family first.
In our society, so much emphasis is placed on ourselves, our ambitions, our development, but centenarians keep their communities close to them. They make life decisions based on generations of families. They keep their aging parents and grandparents near or even in their homes, which has been shown to reduce death rates for the whole family. They invest in their children and tend to have only one life partner, which research shows can represent up to three years of life.
9. Remember your chosen family.
Blood is thicker than water, but true friendship can literally save your life. Those who live to be over 100 create social environments of support and engagement with a small group of people around them. These tight-knit social networks have an impact on behaviors that prolong your life.
Even if you don’t live in Japan, Greece, or even California, you can live the way you do by making these little daily changes. And don’t forget that enjoying life is the best way to make it as long as possible.
Darlena Cunha is a freelance writer and professor at the University of Florida with degrees in communications and ecology.
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