Blue Zones

For some reason I keep coming across research about Blue Zones, over the past few weeks. Before that, it was telomeres!

Blue Zones are the places on our planet where the longest living people live. I remember this topic being part of the required study for my naturopathic qualification, but they weren’t called ‘Blue Zones’ back then!

It’s intriguing to correlate the practises shared amongst these groups of people and two of the authors I’m currently reading are doing exactly that.

In ‘Becoming Vegan’ dieticians Brenda Davies and Vesanto Melina compare three Blue Zones: Sardina in Italy, Loma Linda in California, and Okinawa in Japan.

Here is what they all share in common:

*Family and Social engagement.

*No smoking

*A plant-based diet

*Constant moderate physical activity

*Legumes

The value of family isn’t explored much in this particular book but I’ve been coming across plenty of research exploring the Blue Zone tendency to value their elders and nurture family ties. In the other book I’m reading, ‘The secrets of people who never get sick’ the writer Gene Stone says ‘Numerous scientific studies have linked strong social networks to a host of benefits, including reduced obesity, post-operative pain and risk of chronic illness.’

In Loma Linda (a community of seventh day Adventists), other beneficial lifestyle behaviours  include faith, high soy consumption, the use of whole grains and nuts, and the avoidance of alcohol.

People living in Blue Zones tend to eat nutrient dense foods rather than heavily processed foods. They eat whole plant foods, and little if any, animal products. Blue Zone researcher and author, Dan Buettner states, “Beans, whole grains, and garden vegetables are the cornerstones of all these longevity diets.”

The Blue Zones show great variance in the percentage of calories from fat, with both high and low fat intakes across the board. What seems more important is that the fat is of high quality (eg plant based, while foods like nuts) and caloric intakes aren’t excessive (Blue Zoners do not over-eat).

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