Lifestyle Choices for a Longer, Healthier Life
Learn these tips from the World's Blue Zones
Have you ever heard of the world's "Blue Zones?" These are the places where people typically live happy, productive lives well into their 90's, and often past age 100. There are five Blue Zones in the world, located in: Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica; and the remote island of Icaria in Greece. These Blue Zones have been studied in recent years by many researchers and organizations, including the American Association of Retired People (AARP) and National Geographic, and their findings have often been reported on television, and in research journals. The lessons they have learned from the Blue Zones have important implications for people throughout the world.
Although those of us who live in modern cultures may feel that the lifestyle of people in remote areas can't be duplicated in our communities, you might be surprised. First of all, Loma Linda, California, which is one of the Blue Zones, is located just southwest of Los Angeles, which is definitely not a remote area. In addition, because it is located inland from Los Angeles, residents are exposed to frequent air pollution and other hazards of modern life. Therefore, it is obvious that you don't have to move to some remote Greek island or Costa Rican peninsula in order to live to be 100.
In addition, some of what the researchers have discovered could not only provide the secrets to how to live longer, but could also help us all have a higher quality of life as we age. Already scientists have learned that being old does not have to automatically mean that you are destined to be sick and disabled. How can we benefit from what scientists have learned so far?
Vegetables Really are Good for You
The diets of many people in the Western World have frequently come to consist primarily of meat and potatoes. However, in countries and cities where people age well, a high proportion of their diet consists of vegetables. In some cases, the residents simply cannot afford to eat a lot of meat. In other cases, eating a lot of vegetables is an intentional choice. However, whether it is because of choice or finances, people tend to live longer if they cut back on meat and eat more vegetables.
In addition to vegetables, other plant based foods that are typically consumed by people who live in the Blue Zones includes legumes, or beans, as well as fruit. Be sure to increase the amount of these foods in your diet, too.
Fish Protein May be the Healthiest
When you do eat animal protein, it appears that fish and seafood are the healthiest choices. Many fish, such as salmon, tuna and trout, provide you with healthy fats, instead of the saturated fats that come from eating mammals and birds. Minimize the amount of meat you eat, in particular red meat, and get your protein from vegetable sources, fish and seafood. These are the healthiest choices you can make.
Consume Healthy Fats
One of the reasons that fish are so good for you to eat, is that we need some healthy fats in our diets. Small quantities of the right kind of fats are an important part of our diet. However, when we eat meat or dairy products, such as butter, we are consuming saturated fats, which are unhealthy. Instead of saturated fats, we should concentrate on including the MUFAs, or Monounsaturated fats, in our diet. These are the fats that come from fish, olives, olive oil, safflower oil, nuts and avocados. Consuming a small amount of fat each day from these sources is important to good health.
Drink Tea and Don't Smoke
In many of the countries where people seem to live a long life, they also drink a lot of tea, in particular green tea, white tea, oolong tea, and herbal teas such as chamomile and mint. Adding these teas to our diets can help us live a healthier life, too.
Very few people who live to old age are smokers. Although there may be a few exceptions, it is not a good idea to count on it. Tobacco contains many toxins that are poisonous to our body. Tobacco use has been connected to cancer, heart-disease and other illnesses. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you do smoke, stop. Tests have shown that many of the toxic effects of tobacco use can be reversed within a few years of stopping.
Develop Your Spiritual Side
Another aspect of people from the Blue Zones is that most of them have a very spiritual approach to life. This does not mean that they all belong to a particular faith or religion. It does mean that they have faith in a Higher Power, and they practice their religion.
You will also benefit from learning more about the world's blue zones, by reading one of the excellent books on the topic:
In most parts of the Western World, many people look forward to the day when they can retire and quit working. However, this approach to life does not appear to be conducive to actually living a long life! Most of the people who do live a long life are the ones who continue to work well past what we would consider normal retirement age.
However, you don't have to spend your later years grinding away at a job that is unfulfilling. Your senior years may be the time to find something that you feel passionate about, and get involved. What better time to follow your dreams than when you are in your 60s or 70s? Did you know that people in this age group can even join the Peace Corps? Others become missionaries, artists, open shops, or volunteer at hospitals and soup kitchens. Find something you have always wanted to do, and throw yourself into it!
Maintain Strong Friendships
Another characteristic of people who live a long time is that they stay connected with other people, as well as with their Higher Power. Family and friends are important to people who live to be 100. In many cases, by the time they are in their 80s and 90s, many people have lost most of the friends they have cared about during their lifetime. It is important that we all learn to continue to make friends and new connections as we grow older.
Get Rest, Exercise and Have Fun
Enjoy your life. Have fun. Laugh and occasionally act a little silly. Play games. Get down on the floor with the grandkids. Take them fishing. Listen to music. Take a nap. Go for a walk. All of these actions will not only prolong your life, but will help you enjoy it a lot more, too. None of us want to live a long time, only to end up miserable and lonely. Instead, we want to fully and cheerfully enjoy our life right up till the very end.
If you are looking for more ways to live a long life and stay healthy, you may also be interested in reading some of these articles:
Have a Long Life and Live to 100
Avoid Vitamin D Deficiency
The Best Book about the World's Blue Zones
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