Would you like to live in a place that promotes your health and helps make you live longer? Just move to Okinawa, Costa Rica, or maybe Ogliastra in Sardinia. These places are called blue zones, and they are areas of the world where you live long but essentially healthily. In this article, let’s discover more about these fascinating places.
Examples of Blue Zones
Ikaria is an island in the Aegean Sea west of Samos and is not far from the Ionian coast of Izmir (Izmir, Turkey).
Ogliastra and Barbagia
Ogliastra is a historical region of eastern Sardinia; inland and coastal municipalities (such as Baunei) are concerned.
Nicoya – Costa Rica
Studies on the inhabitants’ longetivity of this peninsula facing the Pacific Ocean, in Central America, date back to 2007.
Okinawa – Japan
In southern Japan, the inhabitants are mainly dedicated to fishing, but the diet, although poor, is diversified. There, live the longest-lived women on the planet.
Loma Linda – Californa, United States of America
It belongs to the Blue Zones because of the particular conditions of isolation created by its inhabitants’ religious orientation (Seventh Day Adventists). These people follow a particular diet.
What’s the Particularity of These Places?
But what allows these places to have such a profound effect on the biology of the people who live there? Is it the places or the genetics of these populations that make the difference?
According to the researchers, the results don’t happen by miracle,and, neither is genetics the common denominator of these areas (also because they are in distant parts of the world). The positive effect on health and longevity is the result of a particularly protective lifestyle that people in those places adopt.
Epigenetics explains how the environment in which we live and in particular our habits can modify the activity levels of genes and affect our health positively or negatively.
Undoubtedly, the modern lifestyle adopted by all of us in Western countries does not play in our favor. According to some studies, it is the leading cause of the ever-common diseases, including heart attack, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and neurodegenerative diseases.
In the blue zones, these habits do not exist, and people live a more serene existence and in contact with nature and its rhythms. Over time, the healthiest and most genuine lifestyle enhances the DNA’s reparative capacities and preserves health for longer.
The Secret to Longevity
The characteristics of the blue zone lifestyle are quite clear and can be summarized in 10 key points:
- Eating less: in all blue zones, people tend to have a low-calorie and hyper-nutrient diet, that is, with unrefined, low-calorie but nutrient-rich foods.
- More fiber and vegetables: a vital part of the diet are fiber and vegetables that provide essential nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants.
- Healthy sources of protein and fats: animal products are genuinely raised or caught at sea and are rich in noble proteins and healthy fats.
- Less stress: blue zone populations are under less pressure in both their personal and professional lives. Contact with nature further reduces the effect of stress.
- More genuine relationships: interpersonal relationships are more stable and solid and less opportunistic.
- Social roles: roles are not determined by success or productivity and remain even as time passes. Elders are perceived as the wise men of the tribe.
- Values, spiritual life: in blue zones there are strong values and spiritual beliefs that make life sweeter and more hopeful.
- Meditation: in some areas (Okinawa in particular), there is a strong tradition of martial arts and meditation that helps people to achieve greater balance and serenity.
- More physical activity: in the blue zones most people use their bodies on a daily basis for movement and agricultural work. There is no need for sports because there is enough movement in daily life.
- Less work: generally people work less, and above all they are not involved in processes that they do not control or govern and therefore very little satisfaction.
Given that everyone can’t move to these areas, it is possible to recreate the environmental factors that determine longevity. Of course, it may come less naturally and cost some more sacrifice initially, but there is nothing to prevent us from eating less and better, exercising, and starting to meditate.
Have you ever visited a blue zone? We want to read from you; remember to share your experience in the comments below.