Are Blue Zones a Model for the Future of Mankind? By Robin Trimingham
This past week I have been reading about “Blues Zones”; a term that was first referenced in a 2005 article in National Geographic entitled “The Secrets of a Long Life”. In the article, the author Dan Buettner identified five locations where people statistically live the longest. These destinations include: Okinawa (Japan); Sardinia (Italy); Nicoya (Costa Rica); Icaria (Greece) and a Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California. Buettner, who has devoted his life to studying people in these regions, has developed a hypothesis regarding why people live longer and healthier lives which is based in part on empirical data, and partly on first hand observations.
In general, the people he studies have several common lifestyle characteristics that seem to contribute to their longevity including: eating a low calorie mostly plant-based diet, little or no use of tobacco, the moderate consumption of alcohol (particularly red wine), constant moderate physical exercise right up to the end of life, regular attendance at spiritual or religious proceedings, engagement in family life, regular social interaction with people of all ages, maintaining a sense of life purpose, and stress reduction techniques such as laughter and yoga. (I was also encouraged to read that many of the people who live in these Blue Zones also drink coffee and plenty of water every day.)
This means that while good genes might give you an edge, there is much work you can do to improve your personal habits which are pretty much guaranteed to improve your health, happiness, and the quality of your life, that may also add up to a decade onto the length of your life. In fact, researchers are so convinced that positive behavior can have a positive influence on longevity that they have developed a free True Vitality Test that can calculate your current life expectancy based on your current lifestyle habits, and make customized recommendations regarding steps that you can take to increase your longevity.
Although they did not appear on the list, I would also suggest that spending time in nature and spending time with animals (particularly my Yorkie Sunny) has never failed to lift my spirits and give me a great appreciation for life. It also goes without saying that living in a smog-free environment and exercising my brain daily are as important to my wellbeing as a daily walk.
I don’t think that there is any way to guarantee that anyone will live to extreme old age, but I do think that just makes sense to do whatever possible to protect the quality of the life that you have and your ability to live independently for as long as possible. Declaring your home, and your life a “blue zone” and spending time with other like-minded people is a good way to start.
By Robin Trimingham