You eat kale, whole grains and even ride your bike to work everyday. After sitting behind a desk for 8 hours, you lift weights, catch up with family, have a glass of wine, then go to bed. All to do it again the very next day. You do the best you can, but is it enough for longevity?
Ever wonder what characteristics the world’s longest-lived have in common? We refer to these places as Blue Zones, or the hotspots for the healthiest cultures on Earth. What they have in common doesn’t necessarily include the mainstream health trends like eating a handful a nuts a day to add 10 years to your life, or blending up protein shakes, or drinking a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar every morning. Their secrets lie in the Power 9, and the best part is, these 9 characteristics aren’t all that difficult to incorporate into your own life.
Incorporate movement into your daily routine. Rather than sitting all day and spending an hour and a half at the gym pumping iron and drowning in sweat, put yourself in an environment that involves movement. Shepherds in the Blue Zone of Sardinia, Italy walk five miles a day or more. They stay away from the joint-pounding of running marathons. This activity has a positive effect on bones and metabolism and involves movement in their day-to-day routines.
Knowing your sense of purpose can add an extra seven years to your life expectancy. The Blue Zone in the Caribbean nation of Nicoya, Costa Rica incorporate, “plan de vida,” or reason to live in their lifestyle. Sense of purpose catapults a positive outlook on life, therefore making them live longer and healthier.
Everyone in the world goes through stress, how you manage it is a determining factor to how long you will live. News flash – stress causes major age-related diseases and chronic inflammation which will reduce years off your life. Introduce mechanisms which will help you wind down, or wined down for that matter. Embrace happy hours and social gatherings, pray or enjoy a nap to get rid of that stress.
Ever consume so much food that you feel a child made of food growing inside of you? Hara hachi bu, or the 80% rule avoids these food babies. Be mindful of what you eat and what you put on your plate. If you feel yourself getting full, slow down and drink some water.
This one will have vegans going crazy. Blue Zones go nuts over beans, lentils and soy, and rarely indulge in meat. If they do eat meat, it’s only about 5 times a month and serving sizes are comparable to a deck of cards, not that top sirloin steak which takes up your whole plate, Ron.
Wine at 5
Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. Whaaaaaat?? This is permission to grant yourself 1-2 glasses of wine a day, and you can’t save them all up for the weekend and completely botch the point of this power 9. Share your glass of wine with family, food or *cough* Netflix.
You may have dreaded going to church growing up and silently cursed your parents for making you attend every Sunday, but I bet you didn’t know it actually adds years to your life. In fact, research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy.
Loved Ones First
Putting your loved ones first creates a tight-knit community which adds to quality of life. When keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home, you provide them necessary care, while also lowering disease and mortality rates of children in the home. People in the Blue Zones also commit to a life partner. It can can add 3 years to your life, so maybe think twice the next time you swipe right.
Have you ever heard the theory that you are the average of the 5 closest people to you? People in the Blue Zones surround themselves with others that support healthy behaviors, because things like smoking, obesity, loneliness and happiness are contagious. Okinawans, for example, have “moais,” or a group of 5 friends that commit to each other for life. So goes the old Irish proverb, “There are good ships and woods ships, ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships, may they always be!
The Blue Zones are straight up ballers and have this whole longevity thing figured out. When you think about it though, they really aren’t doing anything crazy. It’s basically about sticking to the basics and living simply. If you’re interested in learning more about longevity, or want to calculate your own life-expectancy, visit this link and take the True Vitality Test.