I read a fantastic article in the southwester newspaper (a top notch publication) this week all about ‘Blue Zones’.  Heard of them?  It’s a term used by National Geographic Fellow, Dan Buettner, used to describe areas of the world in which people live longer.  According to Dan, there are five of these zones in the world (Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, Ikaria in Greece and Loma Linda in California) and their secret is down to a number of habits that he calls the ‘Power 9’………

 Blue Zones Diagram

1. Move Naturally
This means gardening, walking, housework etc undertaken throughout the day, rather than running marathons and lifting weights which suits me perfectly.
2. Know and Nurture your Purpose
Why do you wake up every morning?  This sense of purpose, if you know why you indeed get up every morning, is apparently worth up to an extra seven years of life expectancy.  Better get thinking….
3. Create Downshifting, Stress-Relieving Habits
These are daily routines that we use to relieve stress - yoga, taking a nap, praying, a walk through nature.  Chronic stress is unfortunately the foundation for every age-related disease so if you aren’t incorporating stress busting activities into your daily routine, you’d better get started!
4. 80% Rule
Stop eating when you feel 80% full - that 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it.
5. Plant Slant
Beans are the mainstay of most centenarian diets (and they eat meat in very small quantities) so incorporate lentils, black beans, kidney beans, soy and all other pulses into your diet (and keep the red meat to a minimum).  
6. Wine @ 5
The majority of people living in Blue Zones drink alcohol regularly but moderately - that’s a couple of glasses a day (I might find this one tricky but could give starting at 5 a go)
The majority of those who live in these so-called Blue Zones nurture their religion or spirituality.  Research shows that attending faith-based services 4 times a month added 4-14 years onto life expectancy.  Wow! Maybe joining a yoga group counts too?
8. Loved Ones First
Blue Zone dwellers put their families first.  Makes total sense!
9. Right Tribe
Interestingly,  those living in Blue Zones choose social circles that support healthy behaviours. Must ditch that friend who drinks too much and doesn’t go to church!
So there you have it, a little something to help you towards adding a few extra years onto your life but no matter when we pop off, I guess we’ll all be better off by taking some of these healthy habits on board.  
 If you’d like to know more, visit the website - bluezones.com - or follow them on Instagram @bluezones
February 10, 2023 — Sophie Martin

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