Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow, has discovered 5 areas around the world where people live longer, healthier lives, often past the age of 100. These ‘blue zones’ as Buettner calls them, are located in the Barbagia region of Sardinia, Italy, Ikaria, Greece, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, Loma Linda, California and Okinawa, Japan. But you don’t have to uproot your family to bring some blue zone magic to your life. Read on to discover 9 common criteria that have been found to contribute to the higher-than-average life expectancy of the inhabitants in these regions.
1. Natural Movement
Many people run marathons or sweat it out on the treadmill with the goal of cardio and overall health in mind. But the blue zone centenarians live in areas where tending to gardens and caring for the home create daily forms of movement–no gym necessary.
Everyone is born into life with a purpose or a destiny to fulfill. This is your reason for being, and your vision for today and the day after.
Stress is a given factor all over the world, even in the blue zones. learning to let go of that stress is something those in the blue zone have mastered. Whether you celebrate your ancestors daily like the Okinawans or take daily naps like the Ikarians, learning to unwind and release on a regular basis are important components to long life.
4. 80% Full
In our popular Dragon’s Way Qigong® program, we suggest that participants stop eating when they are 80 percent full. The Okinawans say, “Hara hachi bu” before meals to remind themselves of the same guideline. People in the blue zones enjoy their smallest and last meal of the day in the late afternoon or early evening.
5. Plant-Based Diet
Centenarians in the blue zone enjoy fava beans, black beans, soy beans and lentils daily. They only eat meat—most of it, pork—about five times per month.
6. Happy Hour
Did you know that moderate, regular drinkers outlive non-drinkers? Here’s the trick: drink 1-2 glasses of wine per day with good company.
According to blue zone research, being part of a faith-based community adds years to your life. Click here to understand spiritual journeys from the TCM perspective.
8. Loved Ones First
It has been scientifically proven many times over that when we are surrounded by loving family and friends, mental health, self-esteem and physical well-being increase. Putting families first–even if it means creating space in your own home for aging family members–is a philosophy that blue zone centenarians live by.
9. Right Tribe
Family often extends beyond the intimate circle created by birth. Social circles like “moais” in Okinawa commit to each other for a lifetime.
Many of us likely have a few of these common denominators already in place. Whether it’s a healthy social network, a daily glass of wine or a focus on eating-for-healing, incorporating more of these strategies into our daily lifestyles is the proven recipe for success.