What can we learn from the blue zones?

Is there anything we can learn from the blue zones?

Everyone most probably knows by now that beyond any doubt genetics only determines 20% of how long an average person lives, the other 80% is fully dictated by lifestyle. So, what does this mean? Can finding the perfect diet and lifestyle improve health and longevity? How can we detect what the right diet is for us? Ever heard of the blue zones? 

The Blue Zones are 5 populations which have been studied in detail by medical researchers and anthropologists and show the greatest longevity across all human populations on the planet. On average, they live 10 years longer than the average Westerner and their populations have 10x as many centurions (people 100+ yrs of age). These populations are from:

Okinawa Japan, Loma Linda California, Ikaria Greece, Nicoya Costa Rica and The Ogliastra region of Sardinia

 Within these populations chronic disease is not seen as ‘normal’, the main cause of death is usually ‘old age’.  It is way more important to have a high quality of life free from drugs and surgery and try to prevent disease in the first place. Naturally we see very low levels of typical Western diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart disease and obesity. What are the common things among these populations?

Here are some commonalities among these populations:

·       Strong sense of life purpose:being excited about being alive. 

·       They eat a largely plant-based diet with the majority of their calories coming from grains, nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Fish and small amounts of cheese (from sheep and goats, no cows). On average, 95% of their meals do not include any meat and hardly any processed foods. 

·       They have strong relationships with their family and friends.  

·       They fast from time to time and tend to eat their larger meals as their first meal of the day and smallest meal at the end of the day.

·       They perform low intensity exercise/movement over long periods. They don’t sit all day and they don’t lift a lot of heavy weight. Low level of movement seems to be more desirable compared to hardcore tiring exercise because it keeps the body in a relaxed mode instead of going into a stress-mode and therefore slows down cellular ageing. On average, they are standing upright and moving every 20 minutes during their waking hours.

·       They get enough sleep (around 8 hours) 

·       They are usually part of a spiritual or faith-based community and have positive outlooks on life. 

·       Chronic stress hardly occurs therefor developing chronic illness is uncommon.




Gabi Hacmon