Bet you never thought your weekends of debauchery and one night stands followed by wasted days of napping were actually contributing to a longer life, but they could be helping, according to some of the oldest (and healthiest) people in the world.
According to nutritionist Louise Cavanough, ‘Blue Zones’ are geographical areas of the world where people live measurably longer, happier and healthier lives than the rest of us. There are Blue Zones all over the world, but the lifestyle traits that lead these cultures to lead long, healthy and happy lives remain the same.
#1 Minimal Stress
Apparently stress causes inflammation, which is at the route of most chronic diseases. To combat this, Blue Zone residents employ practices to minimise stress. The Ikarians of Greece boast a healthy sex life and take daily naps, while Sardinians enjoy a wine at sunset and the Seventh Day Adventists of Loma Linda, California pray daily and keep their Saturdays free for a full day of rest.
#2 Moderate Eating
There’s no doubt that overeating is not conducive to a long life. Blue Zone residents like the Ikarians fast regularly according to their religious calendar, whilst people living in Nicoya, Costa Rica and Loma Linda eat a light dinner in the early evening.
#3 Incidental Exercise
‘Incidental’ exercise is the exercise we get during daily activities and can be done in little bite-size chunks throughout the day. It’s also one of the many secrets to a longer life. Ikarians, residents of Loma Linda and Japanese Okinawans live in environments that encourage them into activity, spending time tending to their gardens and taking long daily walks.
Family comes first – or at least it does to Blue Zone residents. Nicoyan centenarians live with their families, Sardinian elders are celebrated and play a pivotal role in raising their grandchildren, while older Okinawans spend time in the company of younger generations to preserve a youthful attitude.
Having a purpose in life is apparently the key to a longer life. People living in Nicoya live by a ‘plan de vida’ or ‘sense of purpose’ – an essential part of feeling needed by their community. Okinawans, on the other hand, talk about their ‘ikigai’ or ‘reason for being’, giving their life strong meaning.
Similar to the fact that strong family ties can lead to a longer life, spending time within your community or belonging to a network of likeminded people can enrich your wellbeing. Okinawans maintain a ‘moai’, or safety net of support and security in times of hardship, while Sardinian men often gather in the street every afternoon to socialise and have a laugh.
#7 Healthy Eating
Everyone knows that eating a healthy and balanced diet will lead to a longer life, but apparently, eating more plants will help your cause even more. Nicoyans enjoy a traditional diet of fibre-loaded maise and beans, Sardinians eat plenty of whole-grains, fruit, vegetables, grass-fed pecorino sheep cheese and goats milk, the Okinawan diet is mostly vegetable and plant-based protein from tofu while Seventh Day Adventists go for a vegetarian diet of nuts and legumes for protein and fibre.
[via Buro 24/7]