Blue Zone

Blue Zones

According to Wikipedia:
Blue Zones are regions of the world where it’s claimed that people live much longer than average. The term was coined by Dan Buettner, and first appeared in a 2005 National Geographic magazine story, “The Secrets of a Long Life”.

Five regions have been identified as “Blue Zones”:

• Sardinia, Italy: where a substantial proportion of men reach 100. In particular, a village called Seulo, is said to be the place where people live the longest in the world”.
• Okinawa, Japan: a group that is among the longest-lived on Earth.
• Loma Linda, California: a group of Seventh-day Adventists who rank among North America’s longest-lived people.
• Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: Another long-lived group.
• Icaria, Greece: A 2009 study on the island of Icaria uncovered the location with the highest percentage of 90-year-olds on the planet, where nearly 1 out of 3 people make it to their 90s. Furthermore, Icarians “have about 20 percent lower rates of cancer, 50 percent lower rates of heart disease and almost no dementia.”

Residents of these places produce a high rate of centenarians, suffer a fraction of the diseases that commonly kill people in other parts of the developed world, and enjoy more years of good health.

So how can we learn from the Blue Zones?

Although there has been speculation that the very old ages claimed in some rural areas are not always substantiated with birth certificates, there’s not much doubt that these populations are getting more healthy years than most of us.

These factors are common to the different groups studied:
• Little or no smoking
• Semi-vegetarianism – the majority of food consumed is derived from plants, with legumes commonly consumed.
• Constant moderate physical activity – an inseparable part of life
• Social engagement – people of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities

The dietary aspects are consistent with the advice we get from many sources, as well as the advice on physical activity and not smoking.

But Social Engagement is interesting. All of the studied groups had strong social and/or family relationships. We know that depression can lead to weakness in the face of infection, so maybe the real benefit of social engagement is to fend off diseases by reducing isolation and depression.
Whatever the reason, for people on their own, it’s strong justification for getting out and joining any sort of group or activity that involves social contact. In later life that won’t generally be paid work, but there are almost always volunteering opportunities in any community.

Sources

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Zone

The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest

A long, healthy life is no accident. It begins with good genes, but it also depends on good habits. If you adopt the right lifestyle, experts say, chances are you may live up to a decade longer. Buettner has led teams of researchers across the globe–from Costa Rica to Sardinia, Italy, to Okinawa, Japan and beyond–to uncover the secrets of Blue Zones. He found that the recipe for longevity is deeply intertwined with community, lifestyle, and spirituality. People live longer and healthier by embracing a few simple but powerful habits, and by creating the right community around themselves.

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