Diet, genetics and the environment we live in all play an important role in determining our lifespan. But our lifestyle has become even more crucial…
Did you know that one in three babies today are expected to live until their 100th birthday? According to recent studies people are now searching for the formula that will take them seamlessly through from childhood all the way through to being a centenarian.
What are Blue Zones?
The word ‘Blue Zone’ is a non-scientific term given to regions in different parts of the world that are home to some of the world’s oldest people. The term was first used by author Dan Buettner, who studied areas in which people live exceptionally long lives. While Buettner and his colleagues searched for these areas, they drew blue circles around them on a map, trademarking the term “Blue Zones”.
In his book The Blue Zones, Buettner describes five known Blue Zones:
Okinawa is home to the world’s oldest women, who eat a lot of soy-based foods and practice Tai chi, a meditative form of exercise.
Icaria is an island in Greece where its people eat a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, red wine and homegrown vegetables.
Ogliastra, Sardinia (Italy)
The Ogliastra region of Sardinia is home to some of the oldest men in the world. They live in mountainous areas where they typically work on farms and drink a lot of red wine.
Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica)
The Nicoyan diet is heavily based around beans and corn tortillas. The people of this area regularly perform physical jobs well into their old age and have a sense of life purpose known as “plan de vida,” also described as a soul’s purpose.
The Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California (USA)
The Seventh-day Adventists are a very religious group of people. They are strict vegetarians and live in closed-off communities.
Blue Zones Residents: What do they eat?
One of the things people living in Blue Zone regions have in common is that they all follow a 95% plant-based diet. As a result meat is only eaten five times a month at most.
A Blue Zone diet is often rich in beans. This low-fat, high-fibre ingredient is considered ‘the cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world’ and features heavily on the menus of Blue Zone residents throughout their lives.
The idea that beans have health-promoting properties is also supported by research. One scientific analysis of a long-term study found that people who eat beans have a naturally higher intake of dietary fibre, potassium, magnesium, iron and copper; a 23 per cent reduced risk of increased waist size and a 22 per cent reduced risk of being obese.
The Four Best Longevity Foods To Include In Your Diet
- Wholegrains: corn, wheat, rice
- Nuts: all varieties
- Tubers: which include sweet potatoes, carrots and beets
- Greens: with some Blue Zones eating “80 to 90 different varieties of greens,” according to Buettner.
By Features Writer Andrea Cresswell