Buettner attributes the longevity of blue zones to a “constellation of little things that add up”, rather than one or two big things.
Ikaria is off the coast of Turkey, and research links their increased longevity to the traditional Mediterranean diet, which is heavy in vegetables and healthy fats and contains smaller amounts of dairy and meat products
Okinawa is home to the world’s longest-lived women. Their diet is heavy in sweet potatoes, soybeans, mugwort, turmeric, and goya (bitter melon)
Ogliastra region Sardinia, Italy
The mountainous highlands of this Italian island boast the world’s highest concentration of centenarian men. Their intake is also the traditional Mediterranean diet.
Loma Linda, California, US
This community in the US has a diet rich in grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
In this region of Central America, residents have the world’s lowest rate of middle-age mortality and the second highest concentration of male centenarians. Their longevity seems to lie in deep social networks.
Lessons from the blue zones
Lifestyles from the Blue Zones may differ slightly, but there are some key similarities between these regions. People in the Blue Zones tend to eat a mostly plant-based diet, they exercise regularly, they don’t smoke, drink moderate amounts of alcohol (mostly red wine), get enough sleep and have good spiritual, family and social networks.
The studies have shown that people from blue zones are healthier and happier in their lives. There is deep, social connection in each blue zone community. We’re genetically hardwired to crave social interaction and when you don’t have it, there’s a level of subconscious stress that grates away at you. You can’t walk outside your front door in these regions without bumping into somebody you know, and this is all so much more powerful than we think.
Constant exercise that is an integral part of their lifestyle
There’s constant, moderate, daily exercise. Many of the blue zones are islands, and in order to get from one place to another, it’s walking! If you look at somewhere like Sardinia, to get to the town, there’s a lot of steps going up and down, so it’s incidental exercise.
Blue zones share similar types of food intake. Whole grains, greens, tuberous (sweet potatoes or potatoes), nuts and beans. Buettner states “the most important one is beans. A cup of beans a day could add two to three years to your life.”
Inhabitants of blue zones also drink a lot of tea. For example, in Okinawa it’s often green tea, while in Ikaria it’s usually a tea made with oregano, rosemary or mint.
Yvette is a qualified Melbourne-based Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, and Complementary Medicine Association. Yvette specialises in the treatment of digestive complaints, skin issues, mood disorders, hormonal concerns, fatigue, and also has a key interest in children’s digestive and neurological conditions. Yvette consults in South Yarra, Camberwell, and Australia-wide via Zoom. Book HERE