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Want To Live To Be 100?

Take a moment to reflect: is the way you are living really maximizing your potential for living a long and healthy life?

By now, we all know that living an American lifestyle isn’t that good for our wellbeing, and many of us are already cutting back on fast food and going to the gym regularly in an effort to be healthier. While this is a great start, it will require much bigger lifestyle changes if we really want to see a difference. But what can we do? Is there something about the American way of life that is crippling our health?

These are some of the questions that drove the researcher, Dan Buettner, to look into the habits of different people around the world to find out if there is a better way of living. He was on a quest to find people who were living to be 100 years old and learn their secrets for living a long and healthy life. It turns out, there are actually a few pockets of people in the world, known as the “blue zones,” where reaching 100 is far more common than in any other parts of the planet. Through his research, Buettner identified five blue zones in 1) Sardinia, Italy, 2) Ikaria, Greece, 3) Okinawa, Japan, 4) Nicoya, Costa Rica, and 5) Loma Linda, California. These regions are far apart and their inhabitants don’t necessarily have better genetics, so what is it that allows these people to thrive?

The people in the world’s blue zones actually have many lifestyle traits in common that we can learn from and apply to our own lives. Here is the complete list of healthy habits learned from the “blue zones” that we should strive to incorporate into our own lives:

Moving Naturally

People in the blue zones never set foot into gyms. Instead, exercise is simply a part of their daily life. They walk everywhere they need to go, they garden and do their chores by hand instead of with machines, and are active in other ways they enjoy such as hiking, swimming, yoga, or playing games with friends. They spend a lot of time outdoors and many have physically demanding jobs that don’t require them to sit behind a desk all day, making a big difference in their usual level of activity. Being active for a large part of the day is important for maintaining one’s health. Not only does it ensure proper bone and muscle health, but also improves heart health, reduces inflammation, and builds resilience to stress.

Taking Time to Unwind

Inflammation caused by stress is one of the biggest underlying causes of many illnesses, making proper stress management a key component in healthy living. The people in the blue zones rely heavily on their friends and family for support but also make other ways of de-stressing part of their routine. This can include anything from meditating to napping to enjoying happy hour. As long as it eases your mind and allows you to nurture yourself, it will help your mind and body relieve stress

Spending Time with Friends and Family

In the blue zones, people are actively engaged in their communities at every age. Young children, adults, and the elderly spend time together every day, strengthening bonds and creating high levels of intimacy between friends and family members. They prioritize spending time with loved ones in ways that are meaningful, which actually helps to reduce mortality rates and lower diseases. Making time to set work aside to spend quality time with friends and family is essential to living a long and happy life.

Eating Right

The majority of Americans eat meat at least once a day, whereas the people in the world’s blue zones only eat it about once a month, so they mostly rely on plants for their diet. This is partly because meat isn’t always available in these regions, so eating it is a big treat. It is also important to highlight that they never eat processed foods, which is often a staple in the typical American diet. They consume high-quality dairy products, fruits and vegetables, high-quality fats such as olive oil, and many nuts and legumes. These foods are high in nutrients and give them the energy they need to maintain their active lifestyles.

Not Overeating

In the US, portions are far larger than they need to be, often making us feel obliged to stuff ourselves and eat the whole thing. Buettner found that when he asked centenarians about their eating habits, almost all of them mentioned the 80% rule. When having a meal, they stop themselves from eating when they are about 80% full, and research has shown that this 20% gap could mean the difference between gaining or losing weight. By practicing this habit, you become more in tune with your body’s cravings and true hunger signals.

Drinking Wine

Another habit people in the blue zones have in common, is that they drink pretty much every day. They never binge drink but rather enjoy a glass or two of red wine with dinner or while socializing with friends in the evening. There have been studies that found that moderate drinkers often outlive those who don’t drink at all, especially those who primarily drink red wine. Red wine contains many powerful antioxidants that aid in heart health and reduce inflammation.

Incorporating these habits into your daily routine might boost your health and provide a high quality of life through old age. The key is balancing our lives with lots of activity, relaxation, and time with loved ones. Eating foods that are high in nutrients, reducing the amount of meat consumed, and controlling portion size can also help reduce inflammation, boost our energy, and even help us manage our weight.

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