What we can learn from the world’s longest living populations
Why do some people live without health problems until their nineties while others are sidelined by diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune diseases? Sure, your genes play a role, but it’s your lifestyle that pulls the biggest lever.
If you’ve followed the Primal Blueprint for more than a minute, you’ll know it’s possible to reprogram your genes no matter what health problems your parents or their parents have faced. As a health coach and someone who wants to turn 100 one day, I am fascinated by cultures whose diet and lifestyle are completely tailored to me.
Take the blue zones, for example. These regions are spread all over the world – but it is not so important where they are, but what the locals do on a daily basis has the greatest impact on their health.
What’s wrong with blue zones?
Named by Dan Büttner, the National Geographic journalist who studied it, Blue Zones are five regions where people are known to live healthier and longer lives than anywhere else in the world, reaches the age of 100 significantly more often than most people who live in North America.
Although they are scattered across the globe (the zones are located in Greece, Italy, Japan, Costa Rica, and Southern California), they share nine important living habits, including:
- Move naturally
- Have a clear goal
- Manage stress
- Eat until you are 80% full
- Eat a plant-based diet (stay here with me …)
- Drink in moderation
- Be part of a community
- Put family first
- Live a fulfilling social life
I’m not saying you should give up your carnivore diet for a diet high in grains and legumes, but you can’t deny the fact Certain behavioral, social and environmental factors play a major role in health and life expectancy.
Is it Genetics or Lifestyle?
The study that drove Büttner’s research was This one here Published in 1996, in which 2872 Danish twin pairs were examined over a period of 30 years. The researchers examined a variety of genetic and lifestyle influences and found that only about 20% of your lifetime is determined by your genes, while the other 80% is lifestyle dependent.
Since then, more and more studies have been conducted to confirm its results. Like This one here who analyzed the DNA methylation levels of 318 men and women aged 65-105 and showed that epigenetic control of aging had less to do with the chronological age of the participants and more with their lifestyle. In addition, recent studies have uncovered the dire consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and shown how factors such as stress, isolation, and lack of meaning are directly related to deterioration in mental and physical health. According to the research results, Loneliness cuts your life expectancy by fifteen years – about the same effects as obesity or smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
Since Büttner’s research was published, several cities have adopted the principles of the Blue Zone and achieved dramatic results. They implemented these nine secrets of longevity to make it easier to stand up and move around, make new friends, and find a reason to just be – relying on results like a 4% decrease in daily stress, up to 14% more people saying they are successful, and millions of dollars being saved on community hiking and biking trails.
Ready to defy the limits of age?
You may not agree with all aspects of the Blue Zone principles – I live for a good New York strip – but there’s more than something to this whole longevity thing. Best of all, it doesn’t require counting calories, tracking macros, or chopping up at the gym. Here’s how to incorporate these time-tested secrets into your own life:
- Move naturally. Similar to Primal Blueprint’s “Move Frequently” principle, this Blue Zone principal refrains from torturing himself on the treadmill, rushing to the spinning class or, in contrast, sitting in front of a computer for hours and encourages himself to do so moving the way the body should move naturally: going for a walk, gardening, playing, or doing household chores.
- Have a clear goal. Called “ikigai” in Japanese culture, this term basically means that you wake up in the morning with some kind of drive or motivating force. To find yours, figure out what you’re passionate about – it could be parenting, painting, or cooking. being Health coaching, then take steps to follow that passion.
- Manage stress. As you probably know, chronic stress can lead to chronic inflammation, which has been linked to almost every major illness. The people who live in the Blue Zone regions have routines that reduce stress, including gratitude exercises, praying, daily naps, and hours of joy. Think about what you can add to your routine to lower your stress levels.
- Eat until you are 80% full. Our longest-living conspecifics also follow the rule of “don’t get full” and only eat until their stomachs are 80% full. Another thing they do? They have their last meal in the late afternoon or early evening – without thoughtlessly reaching for a second dinner or something sweet or sweet before going to bed.
- Eat a plant-based diet. Unlike the Primal Blueprint, beans, soy, lentils, and grains are a staple of most centenarians in the Blue Zone. While this doesn’t work, there are a few things we can learn from our plant-based friends, including more leafy green vegetables and seasonal fruits and less processed ready-made meals.
- Drink in moderation. People in Blue Zones (excluding Adventists in Southern California) who consume 1-2 glasses of alcohol a day with friends and / or food survive both nondrinkers and heavy drinkers alike. Spoiler alert: You cannot save up on your weekly quota and your weekend high.
- Be part of a community. The centenarians in these regions all belong to a religious community, but religion is not compulsory here. A sense of belonging – be it in your neighborhood, through your kids’ school, a book club, or right here on Marks Daily Apple – can create a sense of community.
- Put your family first. Do you have aging parents or grandparents? Keep them close. Büttner’s research shows that this kind of closeness to family can lower the disease and death rate for everyone in your household. Bonding with a life partner (no pressure, right?) Can also add up to three years to your life.
- Live a fulfilling social life. By following the example of the Okinawans in Japan who moais (Groups of five friends who are lifelong committed) we can benefit from close social circles. And now that the world is opening up again, we have more opportunities to go out and chat with our like-minded friends.
Live long and prosper
We can learn a lot from the regions of the Blue Zone, even if we disagree on nutrition. It all depends on our environment and our lifestyle, the conscious sharing of stress, chronic over-fulfillment and neglecting our own needs for natural movement, connection, determination and self-care. If we start making these items a priority, we can unlock the longevity secrets these centenarians have known for years. It might come closest to the fountain of youth we’ve ever seen.
Are you following any of the Blue Zone principles? Tell me in the comments below.
Thank You For Reading!