There is no secret formula for how to live a long and happy life. But there are five regions around the world where life expectancy is measurably longer. These territories are dubbed Blue Zones, and they are located in Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California.
National Geographic Fellow and bestselling author Dan Buettner came up with the concept of Blue Zones. In a recent TikTok, Buettner reports from Ikaria which is a tiny Greek island off the coast of Turkey. Buettner says Ikaria is “one of the most extraordinary” of the Blue Zones. In this community, he remarks inhabitants suffer one-fifth of the rate of dementia as is experienced in the United States. Geography, culture, diet, lifestyle, and general outlook on life are all contributing factors to the relative absence of mental and physical diseases.
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Buettner and his team of researchers pinpoint nine specific lifestyle habits that are common to Ikaria and people who live in areas with the highest life expectancy.
1. Incorporate natural movement throughout the day
Even in old age, Blue Zone inhabitants continue to live very physical and active lifestyles. Rather than being habitually sedentary or having set aside time for exercise, jobs and social activities keep them moving all day.
2. Eat a plant-based diet
The diet in Blue Zones largely comprises of seasonal vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. It’s estimated that 95 percent to 100 percent of the food consumed is plant-based.
3. Have a purpose
This is your reason for getting up in the morning and what keeps these communities motivated into older age.
4. Put family and loved ones first
Family is the top priority in Blue Zones. In many of these cultures, elders will live with children or grandchildren, and families gather and eat together daily.
5. Enjoy a glass of red wine
Four out of the five Blue Zones incorporate moderate drinking into their daily lives. Red wine, which has natural antioxidants, polyphenols, and anthocyanins, is a common favorite beverage.
6. Stop eating when you’re 80 percent full
Many of the residents in the communities in Blue Zones take time to eat mindfully and consume much smaller portions than those typically served in the US.
7. Follow a faith or religion
During Buettner’s initial research for his two books, he interviewed 263 centenarians from the five Blue Zones. Only three out of the 263 were not a member of a faith-based community.
8. Stay loyal to a tribe
Having a tight-knit healthy and positive thinking community directly affects mental health. The research into Blue Zones has found that these strong support systems exert a positive influence and encourage healthy behavior.
9. Take time to de-stress
Low-stress lifestyle is common among all Blue Zone regions. Chronic stress is all but uncommon with residents and they claim this is because of the combination of their holistically healthy lifestyle.