What Can You Learn from Studying People Who Live in A "Blue Zone"?
Ever heard of a “Blue Zone”? What if I told you that learning about it could help you live longer and better, and that you wouldn’t even have to start pumping iron or train for a 5k to start getting healthy?
What is a "Blue Zone"?
So, what is it? A Blue Zone is an area where the residents live “measurably longer better.” Residents in these five areas reach age 100 at rates up to ten times higher than those of us living in the U.S., and they have a good quality of life while they’re getting there.
I first became interested in Blue Zones when I heard about it, where else? Oprah. I followed up by reading the book by the same name, which was written by author Dan Buettner, who teamed up with National Geographic and the world’s best longevity researchers in order to identify these zones and learn more about what they each had in common.
Diet and exercise tips from the Blue Zone
Buettner distilled everything he learned into 9 characteristics he calls the Power 9®, and I think you’re going to like the sound of these, especially because they don’t require you to try the latest fitness trend, or go on a fad diet, plus you’re allowed to drink wine. Sounds good, right? I’ve detailed the diet and exercise-related features below; you can learn more about the others here.
Keep moving throughout the day
Did I mention you don’t have to join a gym to live longer and healthier? The very first tenet of the Power 9® is to “move naturally.” The people Buettner studied didn’t belong to gyms or lift weights or run marathons. Instead, they lived in a way that caused them to move throughout their day. To try it yourself, grow a vegetable or flower garden that keeps you moving, start walking to the local market to get your groceries, chop your own firewood. Basically, do anything that causes you to get up and move. Skip the constant conveniences of modern life and add movement whenever and wherever you can.
Eat until you're 80% full
People who live in the Blue Zones tend to stop eating before they feel full (but are no longer hungry), and also eat their last meal of the day in the early evening—and it’s not a loaded nacho plate, it’s something on the small side. After that, the kitchen’s closed until the next day. To try it yourself, try having your largest meal of the day in the morning and your smallest of the day in the early evening.
Eat more beans and less meat
Most of the people who live in these zones are not vegetarian, but they sure do eat a lot of beans, and meat consumption is far less frequent than in the U.S. To try this yourself, start adding in bean-based meatless meals once or a twice a week and go from there. You can make a three-bean chili instead of a beef version, do Mexican with beans instead of beef, or try a bean burger with your favorite hamburger fixings.
A glass of wine
Wine not? Alcohol is definitely one of those things to be used in moderation and in concert with whatever health plan you’ve worked out with your physician or dietitian, but it is an important part of most of the communities who live the longest lives. To try this yourself, drink one glass of wine a day, preferably along with food and friends.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your diabetes?