Can the Blue Zones Diet Help You Live Longer?

There are many diets that promise to help you lose weight, feel better, and be healthier. But there are only a few cultures whose diet is believed to prolong their longevity: the Blue Zones diet.

Based on the eating habits and lifestyles of people living in the classified “blue zones,” the Blue Zones diet (encompassing nine behavioral factors of which consumption is only three) has the means to add years to life expectancy. However, unlike many other diets, this dietary approach is not a precise list of what you should and should never eat.

In fact, people in these different Blue Zones do not consume identical diets. What they do share are dietary commonalities that can help them live longer lives. Curious how?

What is the blue zones diet?

The Blue Zones Diet is based on the eating habits of five unique communities around the world with impressive life expectancies. These “blue zones” were first described in a National Geographic article from 2005 by Dan Buettner. He eventually became a New York Times bestselling author. The blue zones.

Buettner’s work. expanded the longevity studies carried out by researchers Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain. They examined which areas of the world had the highest number of centenarians (people who lived 100 years or more).

During their research, Pes and Poulain drew blue circles on a map around the areas with the highest concentrations. These became the Blue Zones.

Together, Buettner, Pes and Poulain designated five key locations around the world that share common characteristics that lead to greater longevity.

What are the five blue zones?

So where are the Blue Zones? You will be surprised to discover how diffuse and unique these places are.

From a rocky Mediterranean island to a lush Costa Rican peninsula to an inland Southern California community, Blue Zones are as diverse as they are geographically dispersed.

  • Sardinia, Italy: The mountainous province of Ogliastra has 10 times more centenarians per capita than the United States and, perhaps even more interesting, the men live so long like women.
  • Ikaria, Greece: One in three inhabitants of this Greek island reaches its ninth decade. The proportion of the US population that lives to age 90? About half a percent.
  • Okinawa, Japan: Those who live on this Japanese island have 80 percent fewer heart attacks than Americans, as well as lower rates of heart disease, cancer and dementia.
  • Loma Linda, California: This inland community of Seventh-day Adventists counts among its members some of the oldest people in North America, often outliving their counterparts. for a decade or more.
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: On the Pacific coast of the Central American nation, the Nicoya Peninsula has the largest lower rates of mortality in middle age and second highest concentration of men who live to be 100 years old.

What do people eat in blue zones?

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Blue Zone diet is that those who live in blue zones do not eat identically. Okinawans avoid almost all dairy products, although they make up almost a quarter of the Nicoyan diet. Whole grains make up almost half of Sardinians’ intake, while fruits and vegetables make up 50 percent of the Seventh-day Adventists’ diet.

“While they have some differences, we believe it’s what they all have in common that can make the difference for long-term health,” Buettner explains. Despite their variety, Buettner found that the diets of those living in the Blue Zones share 11 key commonalities. Here are five of the biggest.

1. Mainly plants

vegetables in the market |  Blue Zones Diet

“In general, the world’s oldest people get more than 90 percent of their calories from whole plant foods,” Buettner says. The diet of people in Blue Zones consists mainly of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes (more than 95 percent in some communities).

This contrasts with the traditional American diet in which 27 percent of calories consumed come from animals. The most alarming thing is that 37 percent of that diet is made up of sugar and fat, according to National Geographic.

If you’re looking to make the most of your blue zone investment, start here, Buettner suggests. “If you eat mostly plants, you will fill your plate and your body with nutrient-dense foods and eliminate other processed foods from your lifestyle.”

2. All food

The term is used so loosely that you could be excused for not knowing what it means to eat “whole foods.” Simply put, blue zoners eat single-ingredient, entirely naturally occurring foods.

Not industrially decomposed food components. Not the Cliff Notes versions of foods that skip to their tastiest parts (e.g. separating the juice from the pulp).

If it’s a grain, eat the germ and bran, rather than a refined, bleached flour derived from what’s left. If it’s a vegetable, eat whatever is edible, rather than peeling, peeling, or consuming the fried version. If it is fruit, eat it dry and without juice to enjoy all its benefits.

3. Beans

bean jars |  Blue Zones Diet

Another longevity factor among blue zone consumers are legumes. Most blue zone residents consume between ½ and 1 cup of beans a day, Buettner says. Not only are they inexpensive and easy to preserve, but they also offer a good balance of protein and complex carbohydrates while also being high in fiber.

Black beans… navy beans… lentils… chickpeas… While each blue zone region may consume different types of beans, each has its own unique culinary traditions to make them taste good, Buettner says.

4. water

Soda is not a healthy moisturizer. Neither are energy drinks, smoothies or purple liquid in plastic barrels with aluminum lids, which is why Buettner says most blue zone centenarians haven’t even heard of them.

Exceptions for blue zoners include coffee, tea, and the occasional glass of wine, all of which can be brewed naturally and even provide their own benefits. Water is essential for almost all biological processes, so you can also consume it whole.

5. Walnuts

opening jar of nuts |  Blue Zones Diet

If you need a snack, choose dried fruits. According to Buettner’s research, blue zoners eat about four ounces per day, about the size of two full handfuls.

He Adventist Health Study discovered that nut consumers live longer and have fewer heart problems. He study found that Adventists who ate nuts at least five days a week lived on average two more years than their nut-avoiding counterparts.

And the specific nut is not the secret; Nicoyans prefer pistachios, while Ikarians opt for almonds. Your best diet option for blue zones? Eat a wide range of nuts, which can provide a variety of important nutrients, such as protein, vitamin E, selenium and magnesium.

You can see the rest of the dietary guidelines of the Blue Zones Diet here.

Do people in blue zones drink alcohol?

While people in Blue Zones limit meat, dairy and sweets, alcohol (especially red wine) is a key daily component for many.

“People in the original four blue zones drink alcohol moderately and regularly,” Buettner explains. “The trick is to drink one or two glasses a day with friends and/or with food; not a total binge on Saturday night.”

It’s also important to note that these are not large 32-ounce shots of red wine, but rather servings of three to four ounces each. Cannonau wine from Sardinia (known elsewhere as Grenache or Grenache) is especially beneficial.

Compared to other wines, investigation It has been shown to contain two to three times the level of flavonoids, which contain a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect.

While research on the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption has been conflicting, recent studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption (admit an amount, i.e. one glass/day for women and two for men) may increase your longevity and could possibly help maintain cognitive health.

Do people in blue zones drink coffee?

Coffee cup |  Blue Zones Diet

Along with water, tea and wine, coffee is a staple drink for those who live in blue zones. “Coffee is a daily ritual in most blue zones,” Buettner says. “Most centenarians drink up to two or three cups of black coffee a day.”

Studies have discovered that moderate coffee consumption promotes heart health. Other studies suggest that just a few cups of coffee a day can have a positive impact on blood sugar, depression and obesity.

However, the way coffee is consumed in blue zones may be key to its benefits. There it is usually enjoyed black or lightly sweetened.

Other traits of those who live in blue zones

The benefits enjoyed in the Blue Zones are not solely attributable to diet. Together with a team of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers and epidemiologists, Buettner found nine key factors that have the greatest impact on life expectancy.

  1. Regular physical activity
  2. Sense of purpose
  3. Minimal daily stress
  4. Moderate calorie intake
  5. A primarily plant-based diet
  6. Alcohol in moderation
  7. Spirituality or religion
  8. Emphasis on family
  9. Solid social life

It is important to remember that diet is only one element of the Blue Zones. power 9, as Buettner calls them. And while diet is key, says clinical nutritionist Jacqui JusticeMS, CNS, there are not enough leafy greens and beans you can eat to overcome the current stress plaguing many people.

“When we look at the Blue Zones Diet, lifestyle is definitely a key element,” he says. “Of course, almost all dietitians, nutritionists and wellness doctors would agree that most people need more vegetables. But stress is also a tremendous aspect for most people. “

Buettner agrees. “While diet and exercise are important, if you’re stressed, lonely, or directionless, you may find it difficult to make it to your 100th birthday,” she says. Stress, in particular, causes inflammation in the body, which is endemic in almost all age-related diseases.

So eat more fruits and vegetables. Add some beans to your diet. But also look for ways to decrease your daily stress, stay physically active, and connect more with family and friends. Maybe even with a glass of wine and a handful of nuts.

Image of Italy with Pin |  Blue Zones Diet

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