By Caitlyn Kambouroglos, Functional Medicine Registered Dietitian
The Blue Zones are the five places in the world where people live the longest. Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California have been designated as the Blue Zones by National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner and founder of the Blue Zones.
You may be wondering what all of the people from these places do that promotes such a long life span. Researchers have identified the Power 9® or nine lifestyle habits that people from the Blue Zones share. The following are the common denominators among people with highest life expectancies.
Move Naturally – Adopting a lifestyle that encourages movement without thought. A lot of the Blue Zone populations grow gardens for example.
Purpose – “Why do you wake up in the morning?” Understanding your sense of purpose can add years to your life.
Downregulate – We all know that stress leads to disease and chronic inflammation. While people in the Blue Zones are not exempt from stress, they have regular routines to release the stress they have. For example, the Ikarians take naps while others like the Sardians enjoy a glass of wine at five.
80% Rule – There is a 2,500 year old Confucian mantra that reminds people in the Blue Zones to eat until they are 80% full. The 20% gap can be the tipping point for gaining or losing weight. Eating their smallest meal late afternoon or early evening and then fasting the rest of the day is a regular practice of the longest living people.
Eat More Plants – At the core of their diet is plants, as they regularly include foods like soy, lentils and beans. Meat, in particular pork, is only consumed an average of five times per month in 3-4 oz. servings.
Did someone say happy hour? – People in the Blue Zones drink alcohol moderately and regularly consuming about 1-2 glasses of wine per day (of course quality counts here). Usually wine at five is shared with friends and/or food.
Faith-based Community – Regardless of denomination, attending a faith-based service four times per month can add 4-14 years to your life.
Family First – Keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or at home lowers mortality rates. Committing to a life partner and investing in their children can also add to life expectancy.
Finding your People – The people who have lived the longest were born into communities that sustain healthy lifestyles. This emphasizes the importance of having a healthy social network that encourages good habits.
Admin. (2021, April 30). History of blue zones. Blue Zones. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://www.bluezones.com/about/history/
Kotifani, A. (2022, October 5). Power 9®. Blue Zones. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://www.bluezones.com/2016/11/power-9/
*This is not meant to be personal medical advice. Please consult your doctor for more information.