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Health & Nutrition
Zaheera Swing
Nutritional Therapist & Herbalist BSc Hons Nutritional Science + NTPD

Secrets To Longevity From Around The World

 

The average life expectancy for people in the US is around 77 years old, but did you know it’s not uncommon for people in certain parts of the world to live up to 100? [1]

Known as “blue zones'', these are defined as areas of the world where people live a longer life than average and usually have the highest number of centenarian individuals.. This has led to a fascination with the various dietary and lifestyle factors that may be responsible for providing the vibrant health, exceptional longevity, and delayed aging that people in these regions experience.

So, what is the secret to living a long and healthy life? While genetics have an important role to play, it’s thought that they only account for around 20-30% of our longevity. Therefore how you live and what you eat may have an even more significant effect on your life span and susceptibility to chronic illness. 

This information is empowering since it means so much of your health is truly within your hands!

 

 

 

What exactly are blue zones?

 

 

Blue zones are considered geographical regions where people live considerably longer and are less likely to develop chronic diseases than in other regions.

 

They were first discovered by Dan Buettner, who searched areas of the world where people lived exceptionally healthy and long lives. They’re called blue zones simply because he circled them with blue on his map!

 

Some of the blue zones that have been established include [2]:

  • Icaria in Greece: Residents eat a Mediterranean-style diet rich in olive oil and homegrown veggies to support a long and healthy life expectancy. 
  • Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica: Residents here consume a highly plant-based diet with plenty of beans and live a very rich and active lifestyle with a Costa Rican sense of purpose known as “plan de Vida”.
  • Okinawa in Japan: Residents here eat a lot of seaweed and organic soy while enjoying daily meditative movement practices like Tai Chi. 
  • Sardinia in Italy: Residents here consume a Mediterranean diet rich in antioxidants and spend their days working on the land farming their own food. This blue zone has one of the highest numbers of centenarians in the world.
  • Loma Linda in California, USA: Loma Linda is a seventh-day Adventist community that tends to outlive other Americans by over a decade. Residents of Loma Linda live a very active lifestyle, with a mainly vegan diet consisting of leafy greens, nuts, and legumes.

 

 

 

What are the blue zone secrets to longevity and healthy aging?

 

1. A highly plant-based diet

 

 

So, how do you eat for longevity? Commonly, blue zone residents eat around 90% plant-based, including animal protein, around once a week.

 

Their highly plant based diet is usually rich in:

  • A VARIETY OF VEGGIES: Eating more than five servings of fruits and veggies per day has been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and death. [3]

  • WHOLE GRAINS: Whole grain consumption is linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer and cardiovascular disease.  [4]

  • LEGUMES: Consuming legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and beans have been shown to be associated with a lower risk of heart disease in various studies. [5]

  • NUTS: Amazingly, nuts have also been associated with reduced mortality. They offer an abundant source of healthy fats, protein, antioxidants (like vitamin E), and fiber. [6]

Plus, they follow the 80% rule.

This means that they stop eating when they are around 80% full. This is thought to assist with longevity since a reduced intake of calories (without malnutrition!) may be associated with living longer. [7]

 

 

2. Exercise & movement is a natural part of daily life.

 

 

Interestingly, people in blue zones tend not to exercise intentionally or hit the gym; instead, they naturally live active lifestyles.

For example, there is a significant focus on working with the land, as seen with gardening or farming. They also do a lot of walking and meditative movements like Tai Chi, homemade cooking, and daily chores, which provide consistent activity throughout the day.

Research shows that regular exercise reduces the risk of death, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. [8]

 

 

3. Sleep is essential.

 

 

Getting high-quality sleep is a crucial aspect of healthy aging within blue zones. While residents in blue zones don’t always abide by a strict sleeping schedule, they are known to be mindful of prioritizing rest.

According to the CDC, more than a third of Americans don’t get adequate sleep every night, which can contribute to the development of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and obesity. [9]

Research shows that getting too little OR too much sleep is detrimental to health, while 7-8 hours seems to be the sweet spot! [10]

 

 

4. Spirituality & life purpose

 

 

Many blue zone communities have deep spiritual practices. They tend to foster a specific life purpose, creating synergy between mind, body, and spirit for optimal health on all levels.

And get this, there’s even research to suggest that finding your life’s purpose can decrease your risk of early mortality. [11]

 

 

5. Social connection

 

 

People living in blue zones tend to have a profound sense of community which may help to prolong their life span. Surprisingly, research shows that loneliness and social isolation have been associated with weakened immunity, cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer's disease. [12]

 

 

6. Sunshine & Vitamin D

 

 

Spending time in nature and getting daily sunlight is an essential secret to long life in the blue zones.

You see, when the skin is exposed to UV rays, cholesterol is converted into bioactive Vitamin D3, which modulates immunity, mood, joint health, calcium absorption, and even the gut microbiome! [13] [14]

Shockingly, it’s thought that over 40% of Americans may be deficient in Vitamin D. [15]

The easiest way to raise Vitamin D levels effectively is by taking a supplement. That’s where our new AdaptoZen D3 + K2 drops come in! With 5000 IU of D3 per serving in an MCT oil base, these drops offer the most superior bioavailability and absorption.

They also contain Vitamin K2, which comes in to transport calcium to the bones and teeth, keeping it away from soft tissues like the arteries!

 

 

7. Whole food supplements

 

- Wild-Crafted Seaweed Complex

 

 

Seaweed or “sea veggies” make up an essential part of the blue zone diet in Okinawa, Japan!

Our Wild-Crafted Seaweed Complex contains the following:

  • Irish Sea Moss: an antioxidant-rich algae that provides essential nutrients for thyroid health, immunity, energy production, and more.

  • Bladderwrack: this seaweed is rich in Fucoxanthin, a potent anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. Plus, it also contains impressive levels of iodine which your thyroid loves!

  • Prebiotic fiber: this supports digestive health by fuelling healthy bacteria in the gut.

  • Burdock Root: an herb rich in powerful antioxidants like quercetin and has traditionally been used to support digestion, detoxification, and skin health.

[16] [17]

 

 

- Mushroom Gummies

 

 

Mushrooms have long been used for longevity in many Asian countries and are also a dietary staple for those in the blue zone of Okinawa, Japan.

 

Some of these incredible medicinal mushrooms include:

 

  • Reishi, which has been used traditionally for centuries in Asia to promote overall wellness, longevity, and healthy immunity.
  • Lion’s Mane, a brain-boosting neuroprotective mushroom.
  • Shiitake, a good source of prebiotic fiber, copper, zinc, and selenium, plays an important role in gut health, immunity, and brain function.
  • Turkey Tail contains a unique polysaccharide that may help regulate the immune system.

[18] [19] [20]

 

It can be challenging to get all of these mushrooms into your diet, which is why we wanted to make it easier than ever with our delicious Mushroom Gummies, packed with ten research-backed mushroom extracts! (including the ones above!)

 

 

 

Final thoughts

 

There was a lot of information to take in today, so here’s a quick breakdown!

 

  • People living in blue zones tend to eat mostly plant-based or Mediterranean-style diets, focusing on whole foods rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds while ensuring they stop eating when they’re 80% full.

  • Exercise and gentle movement should be a daily part of life.

  • Finding your life’s purpose could help to increase your life span.

  • Social connection is essential for well-being since loneliness has been associated with an increased risk of chronic illness.

  • Supplementing with Vitamin D3, seaweed, and mushrooms can help to support overall vitality and longevity!



Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not intended for use as medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any dietary supplement.

 

Zaheera Swing
Nutritional Therapist & Herbalist BSc Hons Nutritional Science + NTPD
As a qualified Nutritional Therapist (BSc Hons Nutritional Science + NTPD), Zaheera Swing has a deep passion for restoring balance and harmony to the body through the modalities of nutritional science, herbalism, and holistic lifestyle practices. Using the functional medicine model coupled with wisdom from ancient paradigms, she aims to provide insight into the underlying root causes of poor health and the holistic tools we can harness to enhance the well-being of mind, body, and spirit.
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