What nutritional habits can help you live to 100? Kale for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
You will surprised by the findings in National Geographic explorer and author Dan Buttener’s new book called The Blue Zones Solution.
Buttener has identified and researched people in each continent's Blue Zones. Blue Zones are regions that have the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world. Those who live in these Blue Zones have social norms that reinforce healthy habits.
1) Typically their cultures take time to digest stress.
2) Their culture’s are tight-knit communities, often they are religious.
3) And their cultures are strongly committed to their families.
Buttener hopes that his book will take America back to a time before deep-fried fast food and sugary sodas. He found that these Blue Zones also were largely free of heart disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes. So, needless to say there is definitely something to learn from their example. Buttoner and his team interviewed hundreds of people who had made it to age 100 about how they lived.And from there they determined what these groups had in common.
The 5 Blue Zones:
These 5 Blue Zones, thousands of miles apart, had these similar things in their diet:
- Stop eating when your stomach is 80 percent full to avoid weight gain.
- Eat the smallest meal of the day in the late afternoon or evening.
- Eat mostly plants, especially beans. And eat meat rarely, in small portions of 3 to 4 ounces.
- Blue Zoners eat portions this size just five times a month, on average.
- Drink alcohol moderately and regularly, i.e. 1-2 glasses a day.
Ikaria has been featured in the New York Times magazine as "The Island Where People Forget to Die". The Mediterranean style diet has been researched and proven to sustain both physical and brain health and preventing chronic disease. But, Ikaria finds even more nutritional benefits than the rest of the region.
Buettner " their tradition of preparing the right foods, in the right way, I believe, has a lot to do with the island's longevity." He continues "what sets it apart from other places in the region was its emphasis on potatoes, goat's milk, honey, legumes (especially garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils), wild greens, some fruit and relatively small amounts of fish."
A few more common foods found in the residents diet: feta cheese, lemons and herbs like marjoram and sage in their daily tea. Ikarians also do not routinely eat as much goat meat as their Greek piers.
Many of the healthy centarian residents of Okinawa practice "food traditions founded mid-century". After 1949 many residents began to eat fewer traditional staples, like seaweed, turmeric and sweet potato preferring the more Western influence dishes.
Still the local's enjoy many local "top longevity foods" such as tofu, garlic, brown rice, green tea, bitter melons, and shitake mushrooms.
Sardinia has a rare ratio of one centenarian man to one centenarian woman. Typically there are five women to every one man that live past 100.
Buettner found that the residents find their logetivity comes from clean air and locally produced wine. But after further research shepherding livestock from the plains to mountains was highly correlated with surpassing 100.
Their diets consist, surprisingly, of goat's milks and sheep's cheese. Some residence may eat 15 pounds of cheese per year on average. To go along with the cheese flat breads, sourdough bread and barley.
Loma Linda, California
Loma Linda's residents are primarily practicing Seventh-day Adventists. Their religious beliefs outlaw smoking, drinking and dancing also to avoid TV, movies, and other forms of media.
Their diet focuses on fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables while only drinking water. In their "biblical diet" sugar is also taboo. One Loma Linda resident "I'm very much against sugar except natural sources like fruit, dates or figs. I never eat refined sugar or drink sodas."
Researchers found that Adventists who follow the religion's teachings lived around 10 years longer than people who did not. Also, peso-vegetarians in the community lived longer than the vegan Seventh-day Adventists.
Their diet consists of avocados, nuts, beans, salmon, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, and soy milk.
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Residents put eggs on a vast majority of their meals. Buettner "The big secret of the Nicoyan diet was the 'three sisters' of Meso-American agriculture: beans, corn and squash. Those three staples, plus papayas, yams, bananas and peach palms (a small Central American oval fruit high in vitamins A and C), are what fuel the region's elders over the century."
It can be difficult to make these regional dishes in the United States. Millions miles from the locally sourced ingredients and local traditions. But hopefully some of these recipes and ideas can further your healthful lifestyle.
For further recipes be sure to visit the Blue Zones website.