Who doesn’t want to add a few more meaningful, happy years to their lives? I am not talking about reaching the age of 100 in a wheelchair, lonely, sick and unhappy. I am talking about reaching the centarian mark in your (yoga) pants, ready to rock every new day to live happy, healthy and confident.
But what is the “secret” recipe to a healthy longevity?
The secret to a happy, healthy, long life
Let’s take a look at some of the oldest populations around the world, so-called Blue Zones. These are regions around the world where people live much longer than the average person. The five regions are: Barbagia region of Sardinia, Ikaria, Greece, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, Seventh Day Adventists, Okinawa, Japan.
The people inhabiting Blue Zones share common lifestyle characteristics that contribute to their longevity. Residents of the Blue Zones live in different parts of the world. Yet they have 3 major commonalities that lead to a happier, healthier, longer life.
What do these cultures have in common?
All of these regions eat a mostly plant-based diet, have a sense of purpose in their community and exercise naturally. No rigid workout, but gentle, moderate and regular movement throughout the day like walking, farming, and fishing. They live a very similar lifestyle as our ancestors. Humans evolved as a species that walks, runs, climbs trees and hills, and uses a variety of muscles all the time. Today, in most parts of the world, people use elevators and escalators instead of stairs, drive instead of walk, use dishwashers and washing machines instead of washing dishes and clothes by hand, buy food instead of growing it, and hire people to do even minor repair work around the house instead of fixing things ourselves. Our society is just starting to realise that these behaviours will not be the optimal long-term solution for increasing mental and physical diseases.
1. Plant Slant diet
This is what 100-year-olds in the blue zones eat: Beans, including chickpeas, black beans, soy and lentils. These staples are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat is eaten on average only five times per month. Research shows that the longest-lived are getting 95 percent of their calories from plants and only 5 percent from animal products. About 65 percent of their diet is whole grains, beans, and starchy tubers. Yep, they are not afraid of carbs! No matter where you go, the snack of choice is nuts. People who eat nuts live two to three years longer than non-nut eaters. Amazing, huh?
What is more, coffee is a daily ritual in blue zones areas, as well (Yay!). In all five original blue zones areas, people drink up to two or three cups of black coffee per day! Sardinians, Ikarians, and Nicoyans start their days with a cup, lightly sweetened without cream.
2. Natural Movement
The world’s longest-lived people don’t go to the gym to pump iron, run marathons or sports clubs. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences (or other people) for house and yard work. And they walk every single day. Almost everywhere. As a matter of fact, recent studies show that walking as little as two hours per week can help you live longer and reduce the risk of disease. Walking neither costs you anything – not does it depend on a special environment. You can just start to walk wherever, whenever and with whomever you want!
3. Sense of Purpose
Okinawans call it “ikigai” or “reason for being.” Costa Ricans call it “plan de vida.” Most commonly, though, it’s simply referred to as your life’s purpose. In the blue zones regions of the world, purpose has always played a major role in well-being and the resulting extreme longevity. Knowing your sense of purpose and belonging is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy. There continues to be a growing body of research to support the impact of purpose on mental and physical health and how it can lead to longer life expectancy. If you’re still looking to find purpose and need an extra boost click here.
How to live longer, better, happier?
EAT. MOVE. MATTER.
As you may know by now, eating, moving and making my life matter has become my daily mantra. I hope that by now, I could inspire you to follow along and start to EAT like you love yourself, MOVE to feel active and alive, and find your very own “spark” or sense of purpose (aka MATTER).
Research on the Blue Zones shows that the average person’s life expectancy could increase by 10-12 years by adopting a Blue Zones (eat-move-matter) lifestyle. A final question for you to think about: If we never take time for mindful eating, moving, and meaning, how can our life ever become more happy, healthy and meaningful?
So what are you waiting for?
I hope you stay happy, healthy and confident!