Updated: Jan 7, 2021
There are only five Blue Zones in the whole world, these are: Ikaria (Greece), Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Loma Linda (California), and the Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica).
Why are they so special?
These 'Blue Zone' areas have a high concentration of Centenarians or individuals who live up to 100 and over in perfect health. To be clear these people live up to 100 free of diseases such as heart, obesity, cancer, diabetes or dementia.
Scientists have been studying this phenomenon for decades and it appears that a combination of a Mediterranean diet which is rich in vegetables with healthy fats and small amounts of dairy and meat is the key to longevity in the Blue Zones. Add a bit of community and social life, and we have a winning formula.
This is what I remember
I was born in Sardinia so the Mediterranean or the Blue Zone diet is second nature and I do it without thinking. Sardinia boasts the world’s highest concentration of centenarian men. Its population consumes a low-protein diet associated with lower rates of diabetes, cancer, and death for people under age 65.
As I write this article, I am thinking back to how my family and I lived and, there seem to be some key factors:
We ate organic seasonal food, no pesticides – we grew our fruit and vegetables and bred some animals.
We were active, we kind of moved without thinking about it - we worked together in our garden and we played with other children - I smile as I remember all the social games we used to play.
We seemed to have a purpose for waking up in the morning - knowing your purpose can add seven years to your life according to the conversations I used to hear.
I remember people singing while they worked - my father used to play a mouth organ. Singing and playing an instrument was a way to de-stress.
We used to eat together but never to the point that we were too full to move after, we had a bit of everything.
There was always red wine on our table - Sardinians drink Cannonau wine which has three times the level of artery-scrubbing flavonoids as other wines. In Sardinia moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers.
Another memory is that we lived closed to our grandparents, uncles and cousins. It wasn’t heard of putting our older relative in a home, we were close and, family came first. The children were always looked after by someone trusted. Having a social life is an important aspect of longevity.
5 tips for living the Blue Zone life
1. Eat organic seasonal produce. No pesticides.
2. Drink good quality water to avoid ingesting inorganic substances like hard water, sodium fluoride, iron, lead, mercury, barium, nitrates, copper, chlorine and arsenic - purchase a water distiller.
3. Stay active, walking can lengthen your life by four years! Exercise reduces the risk of diseases including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, it keeps your body a healthy weight and, helps you age well.
4. Learn something new, read to exercise your brain to prevent dementia and all other mental illnesses.
5. Replace bad fats with good fats: organic oil, avocados, eat a cup of nuts and beans - best supplement ever. Eat as many raw vegetables as you can: artichokes, celery, tomatoes, turnips, celeriac, radishes, carrots. Steam spinach, kale and other dark green vegetables. This combination is anticancer and is good for a healthy heart and more.
Working with a professional will help you make the necessary changes to achieve optimum health and fitness.
It is a very well known fact that an athlete will not become successful until he/she gets the diet and exercise absolutely spot on, now we can achieve this by combining nutrition and science, it really is easier than you think.
Good old-fashioned common sense
There is no secret really, I would just call it good old-fashioned common sense. Living in a Blue Zone means living in harmony with nature, for example when fishing in a Blue Zone, it's ethical to select fish that is plentiful and inexpensive such as sardines, anchovies and cod. When picking mushrooms in the forest, we would only pick what we need and leave the rest to the animals. Sardinians consume goat and sheep`s produce because, although it contains lactose, it also contains lactase, an enzyme that helps the body digest lactose.
People in Blue Zones eat eggs on average two to four times a week but, Blue Zone eggs come from chickens that range freely, eat a wide variety of natural foods, and don’t receive hormones or antibiotics. Slowly matured eggs are naturally higher in omega-3 fatty acids.
Most Sardinians were shepherds and would have had their breakfast when stopping to rest under a tree. They would and still eat cheese with Pane Carasau, a flatbread that was made for shepherds as it would remain good to eat for a long length of time when they needed to stay out with their sheep - Pane Carasau is now sold in various places including Marks & Spencer. With this, they would have fresh milk and later coffee.
Different regions and families would have had a different type of breakfast, but usually based on milk, cheese, and bread. In my house, we used to have milk and bread for breakfast.
I hope you enjoy reading this article as much as I have enjoyed writing it for you and, I hope I have inspired you to make a change. How wonderful it would be to live in a world free of disease!
To your health.