Blue Zones

Many of us have heard of Blue Zones that have been designated throughout the world.  Places where the people living there typically live longer, 8-12 years longer, than those in the United States. The original 5 Blue Zones have been identified as:

Ikaria, Greece

Loma Linda, California

Sardinia, Italy

Okinawa, Japan

Nicola, Costa Rica

What is it about these areas that make them a better place for longevity and a healthier life? What do they do? What do they eat? Why do they live so long?

Let’s look at one – that is particularly close to our heart – Ikaria, Greece. First is attitude and lifestyle on this island. Clocks are visually nonexistent. There are villages on this island that have no clocks and their concept of time is basically, eat when you’re hungry and sleep when you’re tired. Naps are part of the lifestyle, eating wild greens, nuts and fruit are an essential part of the diet. They choose goats milk over cow milk. They drink lots of wild grown herbal teas and yes, they drink lots of strong red wine. Family and friends are a priority and they fast occasionally. (Part of the Greek Orthodox religion requires fasting during certain periods for example Lent, before Christmas and others religious periods which is over 150 days a year for the Greek Orthodox Christian.)  Those that live in higher elevations are a little more active through walking and gardening and adopting the exercise of mindless movement which many doctors and researchers feel is a big contributor to the healthy lifestyle.

It is not unusual to be in a village at 2 a.m. (if you visit you just can’t help yourself from keeping time!) and find a store that will be open selling their wares. As a result of this lifestyle the people on this island live longer, have virtually no dementia and have half the incidence of heart disease than those of us in the United States.

There may be something to learn from Ikaria.  We can start by eating healthier and when we do, dine with family and friends.

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