What are the Blue Zones, and what does it mean for our longevity?
The National Geographic Society has recently published some shocking findings: they’ve located regions in the world where the “World’s Healthiest People” live long into their nineties, and many into their hundreds. These areas have been coined “Blue Zones,” where clusters of people live, disease free, happy, active, and fulfilled.
In an increasingly busy world focused on technology, these Blue Zones seem like an anomaly. We are immersed in our phones, we eat lunch at our desk, and we are always busy, but we also know more about our bodies than we ever have. So what do the people who live in these Blue Zones know that we don’t?
Exactly what is a Blue Zone?
There are five zones throughout the world that are considered Blue Zones. In these zones the average number of centenarians is much higher than anywhere else in the world. The life expectancy is higher, but why? And where are they?
Blue Zones can be found in parts of Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the United States. They include the following “official” Blue Zone locations:
- Ikaria, Greece
- Loma Linda, California
- Sardinia, Italy
- Okinawa, Japan
- Nicoya, Costa Rica
These are not the only locations, however. Other Blue Zones have been pinpointed in Pakistan, Ecuador, the country of Georgia, and elsewhere. What do these regions have in common? The residents of these locations live quantifiably longer, healthier lives, frequently past the age of 100. For example, in most regions of the world, people have a 1 in 100,000 chance of living to turn 100 years old. In Okinawa, however, 1 in 2,000 live to see more than one century.
Older people who live in these areas are healthier, more active, more youthful, and more energetic, and as a whole, the populations of these Blue Zones incur less diseases like diabetes, cancer, and other ailments that most in the western world associate with aging.
The Secret of the Blue Zones
The longevity seen in these Blue Zones is not a geographic phenomenon. In fact, just 15 kilometers from Ikaria, where they claim that sometimes they just “forget to die,” Greeks living in Samos have a very different life. High-rise buildings, resorts, and million-euro homes pack the island, which is filled with hustle and bustle, and purportedly, a higher focus on material possessions and celebrations. Ikarians refer to the neighboring island as a “me”-focused place, not an “us” place.
What exactly leads to longer, healthier lives in these Blue Zones? A Blue Zone life is filled with simple joys, simple foods, community, and an active, driven life. They work to keep their bodies strong and their minds sharp. Those living in Blue Zones have a deep reverence for each part of their life: from the food they put in their bodies, to how they spend their time, and what they value.
Can We Create Our Own Blue Zones?
So if you aren’t lucky to live in one of these “blue zones,” then what can you do to improve your individual longevity? How can we take the knowledge of these Blue Zones into our own lives?
- Focus on whole foods and a diet that is mainly plant-based, with antioxidants and anti-aging herbs (this includes foods that are great for spine health!)
- Daily benefits of physical activity and exercise for the entirety of one’s life
- Priority on family and a strong inner circle
- Regular consumption of small amounts of alcohol like red wine
- A smoke-free lifestyle
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Healthy ways to cope with stress, and reduced stress levels overall, like meditation
- An overall positive attitude about aging
- Emphasis on fulfillment and not material success
- A strong sense of community and spirituality
- A sense of purpose, including work, for all of one’s life
What else can help you to create your own personal Blue Zone? A focus on holistic health. On restoring the body to its ideal state, not only through diet and exercise, but on how you treat your body’s ailments as well.
Working with healthcare professionals like a chiropractor, massage therapist, and acupuncturist realigns your body in a non-invasive way that honors your body, with that same reverence for your body and mind that is seen in whole foods, physical activity, and relieving stress.
If you are looking to create your own personal Blue Zone, start by ensuring your body is in its very best state. Contact our office to start your path to longevity, peace, and balance today.