10 Habits of People Who Live Longer: The Blue Zones Study

Date: 11-12-2019

If you’re not already familiar with the Blue Zones, now is the perfect time to learn more about them.

The Blue Zones study was developed by Dan Bruettner, in conjunction with the National Geographic Society, to research populations where living to one hundred years of age was typical.  Bruettner spent many years researching and reviewing lifestyle parameters that were similar between the populations.

He found that the populations living to one hundred resided in:

  • Okinawa (Japan)
  • Linda Loma (California, US)
  • Nicoya (Costa Rica)
  • Sardinia (Italy)
  • Ikaria (Greece)

And below are 10 habits that Bruettner found were similar among these populations:

1. Move naturally
People who live longer are active without thinking about it. Moving more is their lifestyle and not seen as a chore.

This could be as simple as getting off one train stop earlier to walk to work, taking the stairs instead of the lift, and generally finding ways to incorporate movement into your daily tasks.

2. Reduce calorie intake by 20 percent
Bruettner found that these populations stopped eating when they were 80 percent full. While there is no scientific way for you to track your fullness percentage, it takes 20 minutes for your brain and stomach to register feelings of fullness. Try putting the fork down when you are no longer insatiable and avoid going into food coma.

3. Eat more plant-based foods and reduce intake of red meat and processed foods
The Blue Zones generally eat more plant-based foods and reduced their intake of red meat and processed food. They chose to eat for nutrition, and to eat locally and fresh.

If you’re an avid carnivore, try starting with one meat free day – it’s good for you and the environment.

4. Drink red wine – in moderation
Red wine can be beneficial for its antioxidant value, and relaxation potential, but with everything good in life, it must be done in moderation. The Australian Guidelines recommend healthy adults should drink no more than two standard drinks on any day to cut the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol related disease or injury.

5. Figure out a purpose in life and living it
This may be the hardest tip, but the most fulfilling. Spend life trying new things and doing what you love. Finding a purpose in life doesn’t have to be big and grand, it can be as simple as looking after your family, or fundraising for NIIM.

6. Make time for relaxation and breaks
We live in a time where hustling is king and working long hours, all day, every day is seen as a sign of working hard. That’s not always the case.

Work at your optimal levels by remembering to take time out to relieve stress and relax. Regular breaks can increase your productivity, improve your mental wellbeing and help you create and practice healthy habits.

Don’t forget that regular breaks includes taking a break from technology!

7. Participate in your community
Getting involved within your community can give you a sense of belonging. Volunteering provides great satisfaction.

8. Make sleep a priority
Restful and restorative sleep is critical to health. Lack of, or bad sleep, can lead to memory issues, mood changes, weakened immunity and weight gain. Did you need any more reason to catch more zzz’s?

9. Make family a priority
When was the last time you called your parents? Call them right now for no reason other than to say good morning. Go over to your grandparents and spend the day with them. Nurture your closest relationships.

10. Connect with like minded individuals
Connect with other who share the same values with you. Social connectedness and regular sharing are good for good health. There are a number of benefits from socializing, including boosting your brain health and lowering your risk of dementia.

These Blue Zones ideas for a simplified life are well supported in medical research and provide a powerful holistic perspective on life. Overeating and inactivity has been shown to speed up the ageing process, right down to our cells, and exercise is proven to be protective against many diseases, in addition to its capacity to slow ageing.

For the people living in the Blue Zones, where living to one hundred years of age is part of life, there is no secret to health expectancy. A long healthy life is a matter of lifestyle, and Integrative Medicine provides a contemporary and Australian-orientated way of adapting the lessons Blue Zones populations teach us for everyday life.