Hi, Dr. Connie here.
There are 5 places in the world where the odds of living to 100 years old are the highest.
These regions are called “Blue Zones” and include Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California, this is where I was born), Nicoya (Costa Rica), and Ikaria (Greece).
People in such regions have tapped into the secrets of health that keep them thriving.
So what do these Blue Zone communities have in common?
- They have a strong family value
- They eat WHOLE foods that are nutrient dense, like vegetables, beans, and fish
- They don’t overeat or overindulge
- They don’t eat processed foods
- They move everyday as part of their life, like biking or walking to work.
- They have a moderate amount of wine per day with friends and family, which I love
- They have a strong social life
- They have minimal stress, sleep well, and take naps regularly
- They have a strong sense of purpose in their lives
- They share a strong faith
- And finally, they are happy
Seems so simple doesn’t it? So how do we incorporate some of their secrets into our lives?
Social and Family Support
Cultivating a strong social life or family is key. In our busy lives, we often don’t spend enough time paying attention to those that we care about.
When we isolate ourselves, studies show that it can increase our mortality.
So begin to create social networks or family networks that support each other by being the friend or family member that you’d want to be around and support.
Studies prove that we tend to be the average of the 5 people we are around most often. So be a role model so that you can attract like minded friends into your circle.
The Blue Zone communities tend to eat lower caloric foods that are high in antioxidants. While they all had different diets, overall, the diet was nutrient dense and calorically low.
The biggest denominators are that they eat a lot of veggies, fiber rich foods, phytonutrients, and antioxidants.
Their antioxidants come from a variety of foods like teas, wine, and fruits and veggies.
Most importantly, they are joyful when they eat with family and friends multiple times a day.
By default, exercise is a part of their daily lives. They walk, bike, or hike everywhere rather than relying on cars.
I remember when I was a teenager, I used to walk to school or friends houses.
Progressively, due to the rising concern for safety in the United States, we’ve seen a steady decline of kids walking.
According to one study, in 1969, the National Center for Safe Routes to School found that 48% of children aged 5-14 walked or bicycled to school.
Then in 2009, this was reduced to 13% although the numbers of children living within a mile of school was reduced by only 10% (Sirard and Slater, 2009).
This lack of walking to school and playing on the streets is perhaps both a consequence and a cause of the change in perception of safety in the community. This invariably affects kids as well as adults.
Thus adults as well as elderly people are not out in their communities watching the children, which also reduces their opportunities to socialize with each other.
7 Ways to Find Your Fountain of Youth
1.Get in the habit of walking your children to school 1 day a week (or more). If you have a pet, it’s easier. Suggest taking turns with other parents so that it is more feasible with busy work schedules.
2. Allow your children to play in the street and play with them. Not only will your children enjoy it, it’ll also promote community and camaraderie.
3. Create a community. It could involve a religious group, volunteer position, your neighborhood, a hobby, or your children’s school.
4. Eat more vegetables. Incorporate at least 1 vegetable at every meal throughout the day, with a goal of at least 5 servings per day.
5. Eat with friends at work instead of at your desk. Perhaps go for a walk together every day. You’ll keep yourselves accountable and lower your stress burden.
6. Deliberately spend more time as a family. Playing board games or conversing at dinner time rather than resorting to our smart devices is a good option. This will allow your kids to open up more and encourage unity and support.
7. Smile. Life is so much more than work or stress. We live in the most abundant times in history. Take a breath and choose to be happy. Smiling will shift your mood immediately.
See you next week.