The Blue Zones

I have been reading the Blue Zones books and I have been cooking from the cookbook as well. The Blue Zones are areas around the world where the healthiest, longest-lived people on earth live.  Through research they have discovered what they call the Power 9 – practices that together  – increase longevity health and happiness.  (All information has been found from The Blue Zones Challenge by Dan Buettner)

  1. Move naturally:  By living in an environment that  constantly nudges people to move without even thinking about it. The centenarians grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences in the kitchen or for yard work.
  2. Purpose:  “why I wake up in the morning” Knowing your sense of purpose can add 7 extra years to your life expectancy.
  3. Downshift: Stress leads to chronic inflammation, which is associated to every major age related disease. What is your way to de-stress everyday? (meditation, journaling, reading, time with good friends or family, nap….)
  4. 80 percent Rule:  Hara Hachi Bu- the Okinawans mantra that is said before meals to remind them to stop eating when their stomaches are 80 percent full.  The 20 percent gap between not being hungry and not being full could be the difference between gaining and losing weight. People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then nothing for the remainder of the day.
  5. Plant Slant:  Beans are the cornerstone of most centenarians diet. Meat is sometimes consumed but only eaten on average of 5 times per month.
  6. Wine @5:  People in the Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day of (preferably Sardinian Cannonau Wine) with friends and or food.
  7. Belong:  All but five of the 263 centenarians interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter.  Attending faith-based services four times per month will add four to 14 years of life expectancy.
  8. Loved Ones First: Successful centenarians in the blue zones put their families first.  This means keeping aging  parents and grandparents nearby or in the home. They commit to a life partner and invest in their children with time and love.
  9. Right Tribe:  The world’s longest lived people chose or were born into  social circles that support healthy behaviors.  The social circles of long lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.

Trying to change your behavior without changing your environment will lead to failure. Now is the time to set up your home and kitchen for success.

How do we do this???  

  • Get rid of foods that are off limits or might be too tempting, such as candies, junk or processed foods. Clear your countertops of any kinds of snack foods (chips, crackers) Move your toaster out of sight.  A toaster on the counter gives us a visual cue to toast something every time we walk in the kitchen and usually most of what we put into the toaster is unhealthy.
  • Stock up on always foods: beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Put a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter
  • Meal plan for the week to make shopping easier

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