Blue Zones are places where people live longer and healthier than anywhere else on the planet. In those locations, people reach age 100 at a rate 10 times greater than most Americans.
And they’ve been extensively studied by Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones: 9 Power Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.
Buettner says one of the most extraordinary Blue Zones is Ikaria, Greece – where the elderly rarely get dementia.
In America, once we hit 85, there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll suffer from dementia, but in Ikaria, the rate is about one-fourth of what it is here. Buettner says, they stay sharp to the end.
But it’s not only their mental health that trumps ours by a long shot. They live longer, too. Roughly three times as many Ikarians reach the age of 90 as we do. But living longer isn’t valuable unless your QUALITY of life is still good. And in Ikaria, they live eight to 10 years longer before developing cancers and heart disease. So what’s their secret?
As you may have guessed, a Mediterranean diet. But their diet also includes diuretic teas, like rosemary, sage, and dandelion. They help to lower blood pressure and inflammation.
The people of Ikaria also eat a lot of local honey instead of refined sugar. Their bread is made of stone-ground wheat, and they drink two to four glasses of wine each day.
But living like someone in a Blue Zone goes beyond diet, to lifestyle and even the environment in which we live. So when we come back, I’ll share what Buettner calls “The Power Of 9,” the 9 traits all Blue Zoners share that lead to health and longevity, and here are a few of them:
Move more in your everyday life. Do your own house work and yard work. Go up and down your stairs with your laundry, knead your own dough instead of putting it in a mixer. Part of the reason people in Blue Zones live healthier lives is because they don’t have all the modern conveniences we take for granted.
Another common Blue Zone trait: Know your purpose. Take time to recognize your values, strengths, talents, passions and gifts. Studies have shown that people with purpose live longer, recover from illness faster, and have lower rates of depression and dementia.
Also, down shift. Relieve chronic stress by finding time each day to nap, meditate or pray.
Make salad and vegetables your main course. In Blue Zones they eat mostly plant-based foods, and small portions of meat about twice a week.
More of the Power of 9, the traits that people in Blue Zones share: Put family first. Living in a loving, thriving family can add up to six years to your life. BUT only if those relationships are positive!
And lastly – join the right tribe. Our tribe is our circle of friends, and their influence can be either positive or negative. Good friends have a positive effect on your longevity. So support them and adopt healthy behaviors together.
If you want to go further, Dan Buettner’s book is called The Blue Zones: 9 Power Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.