If you could, would you want to live forever? Many cautionary tales exist throughout human literature. Most of us would say that we don’t want to outlive everyone we know and be alone. But what if you could live to 100? Or add 10 extra healthy years to your life? It’s not as far-fetched as you may think.
There are places in the world known as ‘blue zones’ where people routinely live longer than average. What can we learn from these people and their lifestyles that might help us to live longer, healthier lives?
DNA Is Important, But It Isn’t Everything
Your DNA can give you the basic building blocks for a long life, but it’s up to you to ensure you fulfill your genetic destiny. By many estimates, your DNA only accounts for about 25% of your chances at longevity, while the other 75% is dependent on your own daily lifestyle choices like diet and exercise. If you optimize your lifestyle, you may be able to optimize your life length, as well.
Blue Zone Diets Are Different
In the blue zones the diets are often very different from a traditional Western diet, but that doesn’t mean they are all the same. They do, however, have one thing in common — the majority of food consumed in these areas is plant based.
Some blue zone diets are very limited, strictly vegan and local diets, while others include small amounts of fish, eggs, and dairy. What they all lack is meat, especially red meat.
Exercise Is Important
In some blue zones, the terrain is mountainous and daily, vigorous exercise is built right in. But that’s not true of all blue zones. Exercise is a key component to living a long and healthy life, but there’s one crucial piece of the puzzle that is often overlooked.
A Sense Of Purpose And Community Are Key
The biggest factor uniting the blue zones is that their inhabitants all have a strong sense of purpose and community. Whether those factors come from religious obligation or personal philosophy, having a reason to live seems to allow people to just keep on living.
As Barbara Streisand put it, people need people, and we have seen in study after study the deleterious effects loneliness and isolation can have on your health. Having a positive outlook on life can even help you to stave off dementia, according to some studies.
Making Lifestyle Changes Can Help
Even if you don’t live in one of the world’s blue zones, you can still make lifestyle changes that will have a positive impact on your future.
Start small and improve one small thing about your diet or exercise routine. Drink more water or take a walk daily after dinner. Small things can add up to big things over time once they become a part of your daily routine.
Learn more about blue zones from the infographic below. Are you ready to make a positive change in your life that will lead to an increased lifespan and higher quality of life?