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𝐈 𝐫𝐞𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭 , 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐝𝐞

The Secrets to a Long and Healthy Life: Blue Zones

 

Let’s Start with a story about an elderly woman who achieved a world record (122y) :

Hello, friends! In 1875, a girl was born in the small town of Arles, France. Jeanne Louise Calment. It was a time when cars and airplanes were not yet invented. People used to travel by horse-drawn carriages. People used candles to light their homes. At this time, no human being in the world would have even dreamt that this girl would make history.

jeanne louise calment photo

She will live such a long life such a long life that she will break all the world records. In 1889, Louise was only 14 years old when the Eiffel Tower was built in Paris. In 1896, when Louise got married at the age of 21, Mahatma Gandhi had just moved to South Africa. By the way, Mahatma Gandhi was only 6 years older than Lewis. Fast forward to 1914, when Louise was only 29 years old, and was living a happily married life and had a daughter. A huge explosion shook Europe. World War I began. In 1934, when Hitler’s rise was being seen in Germany, there was an unfortunate tragedy in Louise’s family. Her daughter died of a lung infection. She was 59 years old then. 59 is an age when most women have become grandmothers. But Louise herself would have never imagined that her life was not even half complete. In 1942, World War II was in full rage in Europe. Millions of people lost their lives in this war. Millions of people were separated from their families. And something similar happened at Louise’s home too.

When she was 64 years old, she lost her husband. In 1947, Prime Minister Nehru hoisted the flag of independent India. India gained independence from the British. Louise was 72 years old at that time. And she was watching the pages of history turning, unknowingly. In her life, horses were replaced by cars, and candles by electricity. In 1969, when she celebrated her 94th birthday, humans stepped on the moon. “One small step for man, A giant leap for mankind.” In 1985, Rajiv Gandhi got a historic victory in the Indian elections. In India, the IT revolution was just about to begin. At that time, Louise was 110 years old. She was happily living in her house till now, but after this point, she moved to a nursing home. In 1988, the world finally started to pay attention to Louise. She was being discussed everywhere, she was in the news for being the oldest living human. In 1997, at the age of 122, when Louise passed away, the age of computers and the internet had already begun. Jeanne Louise Calment crossed all the limits of imagination. She made a record that no one has ever been able to break yet. What was the reason behind it? What is the secret of living such a long life? Let’s find out in this article.

The Role of Luck vs. Lifestyle :

The first thing that comes to your mind is that obviously, luck was involved. This is true, if you want to live for 122 years, you will need a lot of luck. But the question here is that in living such a long life, – how much contribution is of luck and how much of it is your lifestyle choices?

Between 1870 and 1900, scientific research was conducted in Denmark on twins.
baby photo) 2800

twins baby photo

More than 2,800 twins were analyzed to study longevity and to see, how big is genetics as a factor and how big are lifestyle and environment as factors. This research was known as the famous Danish twin study. And the conclusion of this was that an average human’s life is 20% dictated by genes and 80% is influenced by lifestyle and environment.

national library of medicine artcle photo post by - human's life is 20% dictated by genes and 80% is influenced by lifestyle and environment.

That means your food choices, the way you exercise and a healthy lifestyle has a huge impact on how long you will live. The question is ;

what are the healthy lifestyle choices that can help you live a long life?

The best way to figure this out is perhaps to do a reverse research. To see the lifestyle of those who are already living for such a long time. In the early 2000s, Dan Buettner, an explorer and author, was working for National Geographic. He decided to study such places in the world where people live the longest. In 2003, he collaborated with anthropologists, historians, dietitians, and geneticists to complete this mission.

They used population data to locate such areas in the world where the most number of people of ages 100 and above are found. These people are called centenarians because they have lived a century. Around this time, some other people were also researching the same thing. Like this research paper 

that was published in the Journal of Experimental Gerontology photo

that was published in the Journal of Experimental Gerontology. Here, they identified that in the Sardinia region of Italy, the highest concentration of male centenarians is found. Those who are 100 years or above. The Italian villages with the highest concentration of these people were marked by blue circles on the map. These places were referred to as the Blue Zone. On the other hand, Dan Buettner found another such place. The Japanese Okinawa Island. With the longest disability-free life expectancy in the world found there. They set out on an expedition to these places to find out why people lived for so long here. The team of scientists and demographers explores the world and finds five such Blue Zones. The first was Sardinia in Italy. Second, Okinawa in Japan. Third, in the American state of California Loma Linda’s Seventh-day Adventist community. It is a religious sect within Christianity. Fourth, the island of Icaria in Greece. And fifth, the region of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. People living in these five blue zones live a longer life than the rest of the world. Is there anything special about these places? Maybe the clean water and clean air here or is it the lifestyle choices of these people that facilitates this. Dan and his team worked for years to find out the real reason. And finally, when they published their report, they say that the real reason was the lifestyle habits of the residents. Specifically, 9 lifestyle habits were common across these regions. They refer to these 9 habits as Power 9.

 What are these habits? 

Let’s find out one by one 9 lifestyle habits, so that you can learn from them, implement them in your life and live a long life :

The first point – lifestyle habit is to ‘Move Naturally.’ It’s not that the elderly people living in blue zones go to the gym and lift heavy weights regularly or run a marathon. In fact, their environment encourages small natural movements throughout the day. For example, most of these people live in villages where cars are not used much. In fact, if they want to go to meet their friends or go to work, they have to walk. Along with that, these people grow their gardens near their homes, where they go and work by themselves. Contrast this with the modern world, where nowadays, most people sit at home, get in the car and go to the office where they sit and work. And if they want to go somewhere for entertainment, they get in the car and go to the cinema hall to watch a movie while they sit and relax. Natural walking is so rare in our modern lifestyle. The American Cancer Society surveyed more than 125,000 adults and found that people who sit for more than 6 hours a day have a 19% higher chance of dying in the next 21 years. Cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, nervous disorders, a total of 14 causes of death become more likely to occur the more you remain seated. Many studies have shown a major correlation here. Look at the latest study,

the washington post - walking of 11minuates every day could lower your risk of premature death by almost 25 percent.

which states that by walking at least 11 minutes every day, the risk of premature death is reduced by 25%. Just by walking for 11 minutes. But obviously, in the case of blue zones, natural walking is much more common. The more you include natural walking in your daily life, the better it is. Now, walking uses specific muscles of the legs, but it is very important to naturally move every muscle in the body. What we see in Okinawa is that people don’t have a lot of furniture in their homes. Instead of using dining tables people sit on the floor to eat. What is the benefit of this? They have to sit down and get up at least 3-4 times a day. More natural movement. The simple logic is to try to incorporate natural movements in daily life as much as possible. You can buy a standing desk instead of a normal desk. You can sit on the floor and eat instead of at the dining table. In many places in India, this has been the traditional way. And instead of using a car, use a cycle or walk as much as possible.

The second –  is purpose. Dan’s researchers found that in Okinawa, there is no concept like retirement. In fact, there is a Japanese concept called Ikigai. It means ‘a reason for being.’ What is the purpose of my life? To have a sense of purpose. When people in Japan turn 90-100 years old, they don’t retire and give up on life. Instead, they find the Ikigai of their life. A similar concept has been seen in Costa Rica’s Blue Zone called Plan de Vida, which translates to a Life Plan. Dan’s research found that having a sense of purpose in life can increase life expectancy by up to 7 years. Now, the interesting thing is that to have a life purpose doesn’t necessarily mean a purpose that will transform the world. The things that give you long-term satisfaction in daily life, that gives you internal happiness, those things can also be your purpose. For example, volunteering for an NGO, becoming skilled in an art or craft, or picking up any hobby that you enjoy doing.

The third  – is  Downshift. We all know that stress is not good for us. But do you know that chronic stress a stress that you have to endure for a long period can be very harmful to your health? According to a study by Yale, if you are under a lot of chronic stress, your age faster. Many studies have repeatedly shown that due to chronic stress, the risk of heart attack increases, the risk of diabetes increases, and the risk of cancer increases. Almost every age-related disease is associated with stress. Look at this article ;

independent artcle post photo

According to one study, if you are stressed at work, your life can be shorter by 33 years. What is special about people living in blue zones? It’s not that they don’t get stressed. The thing is that they have made such habits in their daily routines that allows them to remain stress-free. Okinawans take some time every day to remember their ancestors. Adventists of California –  pray. Icarians of Greece take a nap in the afternoon and Sardinians of Italy practice the happy hour. These are the things that help them reduce their stress levels. Okinawans have a special place in their home which is called Butsudan where they can honor their ancestors. And Adventists of California practice spiritual prayer. So, one interesting thing to note here is that praying to God is also an effective way to reduce your stress. And taking naps in the afternoon, sleeping for 1-2 hours,

medical news today - napa and cardiovascular health : the pros and cons

research has proved that it improves your cardiovascular health and helps you lower the levels of stress. On the other hand, the way to reduce stress for Sardinians is through social interaction. They have a happy hour from 5 PM to 7 PM when they meet their friends and family. So the lesson here is that you should also have a daily ritual in your life to reduce your stress. Whether you do yoga, meditation, pray to God, go to church and pray, offer Namaz, spend time with your family, nap in the afternoon or participate in some sports or exercise. It is important not to get stressed.

The Fourth  – 80% rule. In Japan, there is a phrase called Harahachibu. Which means to eat until you are 8 parts full. While eating eat only so much that your stomach is only 80% full. Don’t eat so much that you are 100% full. In Okinawa, this practice is followed which reminds people to stop eating after they are 80% full. In the 4th century BC, Ayurvedic medicine also described this principle. It says to fill up 1/3rd your stomach with the liquid, 1/3rd with the food, and leave the remaining 1/3rd empty. Generally, there are proven scientific benefits of eating less food. And the interesting thing is that fasting has been a part of almost every religion or culture for centuries. Hindus fast during Navratri, Muslims fast during Ramadan and some Christians fast before Easter. Scientists have found that fasting has many scientific benefits. Last year, Yale School published a clinical trial. It found that those who cut their calorie intake by 14% saw many health improvements in their life.

 Their aging pace slowed down. In 1935, a scientist, Clive McCay, made a shocking discovery on rats.

harvard university - the graduate school of arts and science post a article

He gave rats little food and found that the lifespan of rats increased by 33% by doing this. Similar experiments have been done on many different animals in the last few decades. Be it worms, rats or monkeys. Specific details vary from study to study but every study came to the same conclusion. By eating less food regularly lifespan extends from 50% to 300%.

The fivth  –  Plant Slant. The diet of most of the people in the blue zone is a plant-slant diet. This diet is mostly a plant-based vegetarian diet. In the blue zones, either people don’t eat meat at all or if they do, it is a small part of their meal. In the diets of all these centenarians, a large amount of beans is seen. Whether it is fava beans, black beans, soybeans or literally lentils. In places like Okinawa, people do eat pork but on average, they eat it only 5 times a month. But apart from this, in all blue zones, whole grains are eaten a lot. Various types of vegetables are eaten a lot. And tubers are eaten a lot. Tubers are anything that grows under the ground. Like sweet potatoes or potatoes or nuts or beans. In California, the blue zone community, called Loma Linda, there people are fully vegetarian and some of them are vegan. In 2023, an analysis was done analyzing multiple research studies between 1980 and 2022, where vegetarian and vegan diets were observed.

fortune well article post

And the conclusion was that eating a plant-based diet reduces the risk of several diseases. Diabetes, Dementia, High Blood Pressure, Obesity, Colon Cancer, Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Depression. And the meta-analysis by Dan on the Plant-Slant Diet, found that in these 5 blue zones, the centenarians that were surveyed, 95% of them ate plant-based diets.

The number 6 –  Wine@5. This is a largely controversial point. Dan’s research found that in most blue zones, except for the California blue zone, people consumed alcohol in moderate amounts. For example, in Sardinia, people drink 1-2 glasses of red wine every day. If you look at old research papers, many such researches show that drinking red wine in moderation can be good for health. The reason behind this is the antioxidants present in red wine, like Resveratrol. It increases the amount of good cholesterol in the body. But this is the only point that has perhaps become outdated. Because the latest research and studies tell us that even a small amount of alcohol can be harmful to you. That is, drinking zero alcohol is the healthiest. This shows that the centenarians living in the blue zones are living a long life, not because of drinking wine, but despite drinking wine. The beneficial antioxidant in red wine, resveratrol, is also found in grape juice actually. And even better than grape juice, it is found in grapes. So if you want to benefit from this, simply eat grapes. 

The number 7 – is Belong, which can be called the sense of belonging. 263 centenarians were interviewed and every one of them except 5 was part of some faith-based community. It doesn’t matter which religion you believe in, or whether you believe in religion or not. You must become a part of a social or spiritual community. This community can be your religious community as well. Any community that gives you a purpose, peace, and a positive outlook in life. Another way to get this is to do community service, volunteer, help people, or do charity. You can get this sense of belonging even then. Dan’s research found that this is so important that for people who attend faith-based services 4 times a month, their life expectancy increases from 4-14 years. Imagine, you will live for 14 more years by doing this.

The number 8 – Loved Ones First. Centenarians from the blue zone prioritize their family. Either they live in the area around their aging parents and grandparents or they live with them in the same home. Apart from this, they remain committed to their one life partner with whose help, according to Dan’s research, life expectancy can increase by 3 years. And then they invest their time and affection in their children.

 Finally, we come to the last 9th point – which is Right Tribe. Okinawans have a friend circle of about 5 friends, and they are committed to their 5 friends for the rest of their lives. People living in blue zones are part of such social circles that support these healthy behaviors. Many research papers show that things like smoking, obesity, happiness, and loneliness are contagious. If your friend circle is made up of such people who promote good habits and not bad habits then it can be very beneficial for you. The reason behind this is very simple. Following healthy behaviors becomes very easy when people around you are following the same healthy behaviors. After listening to all this, you must be thinking. Is it possible to live a long life outside these 5 blue zones? Dan wondered the same thing as well. In his opinion, a 6th blue zone can be added to this group soon. A blue zone where traditionally people didn’t have a healthy lifestyle, but in the future, due to their changing behavior, they can definitely become a new blue zone. Singapore.

singapore beauty place photo

Dan says that he has witnessed life expectancy in Singapore increasing by almost 25 years. Today, people living in Singapore have one of the longest and healthiest life expectancies. The reason behind this is the policies made by the government, which subsidize healthy food and impose heavy taxes on junk food. Government policies promote walking. The infrastructure is designed to make people walk more in their daily lives. And there is a heavy tax on driving to discourage it. Another interesting thing in Singapore is that if your elderly parents live within a radius of 500 yards of your house, you get a tax break. So the result is in front of you, friends. Now you know exactly what you have to do to live a long life. You may not be able to break the record of being the world’s oldest human. You may need a lot of luck to live for 120 years. But if you follow the things I have write you in this article, you will easily live for a century. If you liked the article, so you can post a comment ,Thank you very much.

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