Monday, December 3, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
By Laurie Sentman
The Blue Zones
The average life expectancy of an American born today averages 78.2 years. However, this year over 70,000 Americans have reached or exceeded their 100th birthday. There is a fascinating study published by Dan Buettner in conjunction with National Geographic called the Blue Zones. The study researches the world’s longest-lived people in 5 regions of the world with the highest life expectancy, and gathers evidence-based commonalities among these places in an attempt to uncover the secrets that the average American does not (or will not) do in order to live a longer and more healthful life.
The researches uncovered 9 such common denominators, which they call the Power 9. These are the nine healthy lifestyle habits shared by the people who have lived the longest. They are as follows:
- Move Naturally. The world’s longest-lived people do not lift weights, run marathons, or go to the gym 7 days per week. Rather they constantly encourage themselves to move without thinking about it; this can come in the form of hobbies, housework, social circles or simply committing to “sitting around” less
- In other words, “Why Do I Wake Up in the Morning?”. Knowing your sense of purpose in life adds up to 7 extra years of life expectancy.
- Down Shift. Everyone has stress; stress leads to chronic illness. The world’s longest-lived people have ways to shed that stress, whether it’s prayer, meditation, social traditions or simply a Happy Hour!
- The 80% Rule. Stop eating when your stomach is 80% full. The 20% difference between not being hungry and feeling full could mean the difference between losing weight or gaining it. People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then don’t eat for the rest of the day.
- Plant Slant. Beans, beans, beans! This is the cornerstone of most of these centenarian’s diets. Meat is eaten only an average of 5 times per month. Serving sizes are 3-4 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards.
- Wine at 5. No, this doesn’t mean to cry every evening at 5pm (okay, who ratted on me???). People in all Blue Zones drink alcohol moderately and regularly. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t “save up” your alcohol and drink 14 glasses on Sunday (again, who is spying on me???)
- All but 5 of the centenarians belong to some sort of faith-based community. Denomination does not matter; research shows that attending some sort of faith-based services four times per month will add between 4-14 years of life expectancy.
- Loved Ones First. Family first, period. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (it is shown to lower disease and mortality rates). Commit to a life partner (adds up to 3 years life expectancy) and invest in your children with time and love (besides, they will be more likely to care for you when the time comes!).
- Right Tribe. The world’s longest-lived people were born into-or chose- social circles that support healthy behavior. Research studies show that obesity, happiness and loneliness are all contagious.
Overall, adopting these habits can add 10-12 years of life expectancy-but more importantly enable us to live free of chronic disease.
For more information on the Blue Zone, look for Balance Rehabilitation’s 5 part series on the Blue Zone, coming soon at www.bal-ance.com!