The Blue Zones are areas where people live longer and enjoy better health than anywhere on Earth. A high percentage of the population there lives to be 90-100 years old or more. Journalist Dan Buettner together with the National Geographic uncovered five areas/communities that fulfil the Blue Zone criteria:
- Barbagia, Sardinia,
- Ikaria, Greece,
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica,
- Seventh Day Adventists,
- Okinawa, Japan.
These Blue Zones are in different parts of the world. The largest Seven Day Adventists community is found in California, and people there live 10 years longer than the average North American. It is logical to conclude that the location is not the reason for longevity. Then what is? Dan Buettner and his team of researchers discovered that all Blue Zones shared these characteristics.
While people in the Blue Zones are not strictly vegetarian, they only eat meat about 5 times per month. Their diet is predominantly plant based. They rely heavily on vegetable, legumes, whole grains and nuts. In Sardinia and Okinawa, the population also eats a lot of fish, a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for the cardio-vascular health.
In the Blue Zones, the environment is set up in a way that encourage you to move naturally. People get around by walking and they enjoy doing physical work in their gardens and their homes. Whether you live in a Blue Zone or not, you, too, can easily include more movement into your day by walking to work or to the shops, playing with your children and taking regular stretch breaks at work.
Stress exists anywhere, including the Blue Zones. It’s not the presence or absence of stress, but how we deal with that makes a difference. Life in the Blue Zones includes daily routines around releasing stress. These routines are not the same in each zone; they range from prayers to reconnecting with the ancestors to naps. There isn’t one universal practice that will protect you from the negative effects of stress, but you need some form of downtime. As long as it is practiced consistently, it will work.
Family and community
People in the Blue Zones put their families first. They surround themselves by people they love, put a lot of effort into their relationships and belong to a supportive community. When the whole community has adopted healthy behaviors, it becomes easy and natural to maintain a lifestyle that leads to longevity. It is also important to know that you belong, you have your place in the world and you are making a difference in the lives of the people around you.
As you can see, the Blue Zone secrets are not really secrets. We all know that to stay healthy we should eat healthy, move and spend time to de-stress. Yet, it is hard to do it on your own. Come to one of our retreats to find an accepting community, connect with like-minded people, sample delicious vegetarian food and start your journey into Blue Zone living.
Tatiana is a freelance writer and a mum of three living in Sydney. After a 10-years’ break, she has just returned to full-time work. She is still finding time for yoga, meditation and mindfulness, which is making a huge difference to her sanity and her enjoyment of life.