The lives of those living in the blue zone are interesting for everyone. Because, unlike those living in these regions, they have a longer life and appear happier within the framework of various diets and habits. This makes this area attractive, and researchers have been exploring the commonality of blue zone communities for many years. And within the framework of these studies, they learn what should be done for better health, longer life and happiness that will set an example for humanity.
What are Blue Zones?
Blue Zones are communities where people live longer than average. On top of that, they not only live long, but are relatively healthy and have lower disease conditions for the rest of their lives. Research by Michel Poulain and Giani Pes triggered the beginning of the Blue zone research, and the book by Dan Buettner popularized this idea. Buettner, Poulain, and Pes discovered a total of five communities where people not only live longer, but live healthier and happier lives.
Five blue zones:
- Italian island Sardinia
- Japan Okinawa
- California Loma Linda
- Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula
- Ikaria, an isolated Greek island,
The interesting thing is that these places are not close to each other and the people who live there do not need to share common ethnicities or other backgrounds. So, what could be the common factor regarding these regions? Some of the researchers’ ideas about this region were formed within the framework of the findings.
What Do Blue Zones Have in Common?
Although the Blue Zones are quite different culturally, they have some basic commonalities. Here are their common points;
1. Life Purpose: People in the Blue Zones wake up every day according to their purpose. Researchers have found that knowing the purpose in life can be worth seven extra years.
2. They eat early in the day: People in the Blue Zones do not eat large amounts of food before going to bed. Instead, they eat their smallest meal in the afternoon and never again afterwards.
3. Strong community: Almost all those who have reached the age of 100 in the blue zone report being part of a faith-based community. Researchers have found that participating in four faith-based activities in a month can increase longevity by 4-14 years.
4. Good relationships: Blue Zone people also prioritize family. They are more likely to keep their aging relatives close or at home. They also commit to a spouse or life partner who can add three years of longevity. Finally, they want to spend quality time with their kids.
5. Natural movement: Movement is important for overall health, but people in these Blue Zones do not go to the gym. Instead, they incorporate natural movements into their daily lives. For example, they can go to the garden or other outdoor work without tools that make this job easier. For example, they don’t use a gas powered lawnmower, they use manual tools and they also do their own housework.
6. Relaxation: Everyone accepts that stress is a contributing factor to chronic diseases and depends on healthy cortisol levels. Because as is known, when stress is chronic, it can interfere with cortisol and our hormones. Researchers have found that people in the Blue Zones do not have chronic stress. Examining how he managed to achieve this surprising zen situation, they determined that they performed daily rituals such as praying and spending time with the community in order to relieve the stress of the day and spend happy hours.
7. They consume animal-based protein alongside vegetables: People in the Blue Zones are fed meat besides plant foods, but this diet is not like the diet in America. They eat meat five times a month on average, and the portions are between 3 and 4 ounces.
8. Wine: People in Blue Zones drink 1-2 glasses of wine daily.
9. They have communities: People in the Blue Zones choose to be in communities of people who choose healthy lifestyles and spend time with them. Researchers have found that poor lifestyle choices are contagious. Likewise, good lifestyle choices can be contagious.
When we look at this list, the word moderation comes to mind. Because the people of the Blue Zone seem to have a very balanced approach to life.
What should be learned from the blue zones?
Studying the Blue Zones can help people find ways to improve their own lives. Here are the lessons to be learned from blue zone research;
Reducing Daily Stress
Nobody likes to be stressed, but stress has become the norm in today’s world. Blue zone residents understand why stress reduction is so important, and they spend time every day to relieve stress and relax. Other ideas for daily stress reduction include:
- Nature walks
- Writing a diary
- To exercise
- Saying no when there is too much on your plate
- Technology detox
- Do something that makes you happy
- Spending time with loved ones
- Listen to music
There are millions of ways to reduce stress, the important thing is to choose one or several ways and incorporate them into your lifestyle every day. And the most important thing is not to feel guilty about something that is not owned.
Building a Community
Loneliness can have serious health effects that can contribute to increased cortisol, inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. From these facts, it is not surprising that these communities with the largest centuries-old population find community engagement and social connection incredibly important. Regarding how they accomplished this, researchers list the most important contributing factors as follows;
• Blue Zone people are part of spiritual communities and know their purpose in life.
• They look after their families first and Blue Zone families live together in the same houses for many generations.
• Parents spend a lot of time with their children.
In modern society, and especially busy mothers, it is possible for them to get lost in laundries, when changing diapers, in the dishes, in documents, in e-mails, and they become unconnected with anyone throughout the day. Well, when looking at what a modern mother can do about it, here are simple ideas;
• Spending an hour a day with the family
• Have a regular dinner together to connect and share with family or friends. Because blue zone communities always eat together.
• If scheduling dinner doesn’t work because of the crowd, choose a different meal time or have a snack or drink tea when everyone is home.
• Schedule a regular night out with friends and invest time in social environment
Creating a healthy environment
People in the blue zones don’t spend hours at the gym, don’t count calories, and don’t obsess about portion sizes. They do the movement as a natural process, like walking or working in their garden. They also enjoy moderate amounts of food and wine and do not self-medicate. The following changes may be considered to create a healthy environment:
• Not keeping junk food at home
• Spending more time with healthy-minded people
• Walking or cycling to more places. At least park the car behind the parking lot and walk there
• Spending time with others who have a purpose in life
• Making time for spirituality
• Finding healthier ways to relax than food or alcohol