In part one of this article we covered what the lessons that Dan Buettner describes in his book about The Blue Zones. Now we cover some tips that he gives in his book as well as why it’s good to add these and create your own personal Blue Zone.
Basically the idea with this is to incorporate movement into your daily life. Thirty to 60 minutes of low intensity movement is suggested at least five days a week. There are lots of ways to get this including doing things that mean you will have to walk even if just a little like get up to turn the channel on the TV or park further away from the store.
Since so many seniors suffer falls that cause breaks that can actually lead to death, it’s a very good idea to incorporate some type of balancing exercise into your daily routine. For this, Buettner suggests doing yoga. With several of the postures you will find yourself doing a lot of balancing work which will be helpful. Buettner even suggests something as simple as standing on one foot while you brush your teeth every morning and night. Love this idea.
Remember that most of the centenarians that Buettner interviewed were not long distance runners or “weekend warriors”. They did low intensity exercise as part of their daily lives whether it was working in the garden for several hours, chopping back encroaching brush, following herds of goats and sheep up and down hills, taking nature walks with family, or even a daily ride on an exercise bicycle. While having a flock of sheep may not be something everyone can do or even wants to do, it should be relatively easy to have a garden or take a long walk.
Hara Hachi Bu
This is quite simply a way of cutting your calorie intake by about 20% by eating till you are only 80% full. It is a form of calorie restriction and we know that research is showing all kinds of positive returns from restricting the number of calories you take in. Essentially, you stop eating when you no longer feel hungry as opposed to how most of us eat till we start to feel full.
Buettner quotes one scientist who says that, “You can get a diet to work for about 6 months and then about 90 percent of all dieters run out of gas.” That’s why Buettner highly suggests this anti aging remedy from Okinawa of hara hachi bu.
He also gives different suggestions for techniques you can use to help you achieve this goal. One is to eat from smaller packages which includes smaller plates. Many Americans tend to eat all the food presented to them on a plate or in a bag. Providing smaller portions via smaller containers is one way to stop us from eating so much. Looks like replacing those dinner plates with smaller 8? ones was a good idea.
Buettner also presents other ways to lessen the amount of food you eat. Two of these can go together by making sure you stop eating on the run as so many families do trying to get to all the activities a family can be involved in. By sitting down to eat and not eating on the run, you can focus on the food as well as your family time together.
None of the centenarians in any of the Blue Zones ate processed food. Remember Marge from Loma Linda with her oatmeal in the morning and a salad later in the day? The Nicoyans ate beans and rice that they cooked from scratch along with fruits and vegetables, and maybe meat once a week or so.
Buettner again stresses that bean, vegetables, and whole grains are the “cornerstone of all these longevity diets.” We will discuss whole grains elsewhere under anti aging diets.
However, even with the large plant slant in all these longevity zones, meat is not excluded from the diet. In each zone except Loma Linda, pigs were raised by each family. In Sardinia, there were also cows, goats and sheep. Costa Rica had its chickens and eggs and must have some type of milk producing.
And dairy was a part of at least two of the zones as we can read from his book. Sardinia has its pecorino cheese and there was some type of cheese used in Nicoya.
Don’t forget nuts. The Adventists Health studies showed that those who ate nuts five times a week had about half the amount of heart disease as those who didn’t. Eat your nuts but try to eat those that have fewer saturated fats like almonds.
So the lesson here is to stop eating already prepared meals and cook from scatch while incorporating lots of plants, in one form or another, in your diet.
Grapes of Life
Here we finally learn that the Okinawans drank a glass of sake (rice wine) daily while with friends. Of course the Sardinians had their Cannonou red wine which Buettner asks us to seek out although any good dark red wine will help.
More recent studies show that men can drink two glasses of red wine and women can drink one daily to get all the good benefits of the antioxidants within the wine. Don’t overdo it.
Of course, most of those in the Blue Zones did their drinking while with friends. That could also be a big part of the stress relief brought on by drinking wine.