We continue here with part 2 of our article on the Blue Zone in Costa Rica following our discussion in part 1 about the Costa Rica Blue Zone – Anti-aging Diet. We cover the additional foods and drinks in their longevity diet as well as what could be the big anti-aging remedy from Nicoya, Costa Rica.
Further Components of This Blue Zone Anti-aging Diet
While this area might be the hottest and driest part of Costa Rica, it still grows abundant and very varied foods. Every garden and diet consists of fruit, fruit and more fruit. There are many fruits grown here that Americans would recognize such as oranges, lemons, bananas, papayas, and plantains. There are also many fruits we would not. These fruits are high in vitamin C and beta carotenes and probably play into the reduced risk of stomach cancer in the area.
Different tubers can be found in the meal as well. There are yams and yuca and probably a few others I don’t recognize from the name. Also various greens were included in soups that are made. Other vegetables included cabbage, ayote, and the flowers of pinuela. Tomatoes were mentioned as being in the refrigerator of one home along with the cheese.
Apparently sugar is not taboo in the diet as sugar cane is grown in the area. Sugar is used to heavily sweeten the coffee served every day and everywhere. It is also used to sweeten the corn bread served as well. It’s a wonder they don’t make some type of candy since they grow sugar cane but then maybe the sweetened corn bread is their version of cake. Who knows?
The Secret in the Water
Maybe this is a major secret for the anti-aging diet served in Hojancha area – water. It seems that the water comes up through limestone and is full of calcium and magnesium. It is very hard. In fact it is so hard that the person trying to test for calcium and magnesium had to dilute samples by 50% with distilled water to get his tester to register the calcium and magnesium.
Remember earlier when I said the way the beans were cooked could play into the anti-aging secrets? Beans are soaked in water and then cooked in more water. At least here in the U.S. we pour off the soaking water and start cooking with fresh water. All that water has tons of calcium and magnesium in it and it must have an effect on the beans adding to their calcium and magnesium content.
Remember when this article mentioned that the corn is soaked in a combination of water, ash and lime. More calcium and magnesium. The lime adds a lot of calcium and the water adds more as well. I bet the chickens are given the well water too which means, you guessed it, more calcium and magnesium in the eggs eaten every day and the meat. One scientist estimated that the Costa Ricans in this area get around 1 gram of calcium a day. No discussion about the magnesium.
So what does this mean for health and living longer? Over the last 50+ years numerous studies have shown that groups of people who drink hard water have 25% less chance of dying from heart disease than other people who don’t have that hard water. Heart contractions, just like any muscle contraction, depend upon calcium.
And let’s not forget that our bones need calcium as well. Since deaths are high in older people who break hip bones (it’s a leading cause of death) then stronger bones mean less chance of such happening. At least they don’t have bones as fragile as most older people in the rest of the world.
There are lots of lessons to be learned from the Blue Zone in Costa Rica which you can learn about in Buettner’s book, The Blue Zones. Included in this chapter are lots of different facts about things that help people live longer. Lots of facts are given that are interesting.
As usual, Buettner ends this chapter with a list of Costa Rica’s Longevity Secrets and some recommendations as to how to incorporate them into our own lives. It would be a great list to start adding to your own life as your own anti-aging remedy.