Blue Zones: The Healthiest Places on Earth and What You Can Learn from Them3 min read
Ever wondered what it takes to live longer? Certain populations around the world dedicate their lifestyles to doing just that. Known as “Blue Zones,” these communities have some of the healthiest people who live the longest. They focus on values that reinforce healthy behaviors, like taking time to de-stress and spending time with their families. These Blue Zones are found in Japan, Italy, Costa Rica, Greece and even the United States.
Here’s what you can learn from the Blue Zones around the world.
The islands of Okinawa are a tropical getaway with beautiful beaches and great weather. As if living in a place like Okinawa isn’t enough, the islands also have the highest ratio of centenarians, or people who are 100+ years old. The secret to their long lives? A low-fat, low-salt diet that includes lots of vegetables, legumes, and seaweed. Okinawans also form regular moais, community social gatherings where they offer each other financial and emotional support to help combat everyday stress.
On this island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, the ratio of centenarian men and women is one to one. This is unique compared to the rest of the world, where five times as women live to 100. The Sardinians credit their longevity to clean air and locally-produced wine. However, a key factor for Sardinia being a Blue Zone is their ancient tradition of shepherding livestock from mountains to the plains. These shepherds consume roughly 15 pounds of goat’s milk and sheep’s cheese a year. Sardinians balance out these heavy dairy products with moderate carbs and plenty of fennel, beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, and almonds.
Nicoya, Costa Rica
For Blue Zoners in Nicoya, the secret to a long-life life is their diet, which focuses on what is known as the “three sisters” of Mesoamerican agriculture—beans, corn, and squash. Eating these three staples along with papayas, yams, bananas and peach palms are just some of the ways the peninsula produces long-living citizens. While this diet may not sound the most enticing, adding some of these foods to your diet couldn’t hurt for a healthier—and maybe longer—life!
The key to a long, healthy life on the small island of Ikaria is preparing the right foods in the right way. This may not sound like much, but the people of this island stick closely to a Mediterranean diet, which promotes brain and physical health while keeping diseases at bay. People of Ikaria also eat potatoes, goat’s milk, beans, lentils, honey, wild greens, and small amounts of fish.
Loma Linda, California
Loma Linda is home to a number of Seventh Day Adventists who take some of their lifestyle choices from the Bible. They take time to focus on their faith and avoid activities like smoking, drinking, and watching TV. They also follow a “biblical diet” that focuses on eating nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables, and drinking only water. Some people also eat small amounts of meat and fish. When it comes to sugar, the community relies on only natural sources like fruits for their diet. Top choice foods in the community are avocados, oatmeal, nuts, beans, soy milk and whole wheat bread.
Each Blue Zone has something unique to offer. Whether you are looking to change up your current lifestyle and make healthier strides or if you want to live a longer life, taking tips from the cultures of Blue Zones can be a great starting point.