We live in a world of abundance here in the United States.
At the same time, we consume the highest amount of pharmaceutical drugs per person compared to the rest of the world.
We are increasingly suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases, termed the “diseases of civilization.” As we have engineered physical activity and personal contact out of our lives, we are being confronted constantly by a barrage of easily-accessible snacks that are engineered to tickle our taste buds and make us crave more.
Blue Zone wisdom can give us insight into changing our environment and therefore, enhancing our health trajectory, healthspan, vitality, and joy.
First appearing the the November, 2005, National Geographic, Blue Zones were introduced by Dan Buettner who has written extensively about these areas. He traveled the world for more than a decade, searching out people who enjoy healthy, happy lives all the way to age 100. So named because they were initially circled with blue ink on a big world map.
Here are five geographic locations:
Ikaria, Greece: This island in the Aegean Sea has one of the world’s lowest rates of middle-aged mortality and the lowest rate of dementia.
Okinawa, Japan: Home to the world’s longest-lived women, this is an area on the country’s largest chain of islands.
Ogliastra region, Sardinia: A mountainous region on and Italian island, this region has the highest concentration of centurian men in the world.
Loma Linda, California: With the highest concentration of Seventh-day Adventists in the United States, residents here tend to live ten or more healthy years than the average American.
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: Also boasting a low rate of middle-age mortality, these Costa Ricans have the second highest concentration of men who reach age 100.
What does this mean for us? We care about our healthspan too! Many of our forefathers burned five times as many calories in the daily activities of life and work and never bothered with “exercise.”
Their environment of scarcity and hardship has been replaced with ease in our world. How can we harness (and enjoy!) this abundance without it stealing our time, energy, and money? From my experience, diets are virtually useless and leave people feeling deprived and consumed with thoughts of food. Exercise programs can easily get pushed aside by the busyness of life.
These Blue Zone examples provide us with an alternative. They have each cultivated an environment where they don’t have to “think” about being healthy.
It is just the way they live life together.
It starts with each one of us thinking about what is really important. We don’t want to open our eyes one day, waking up and wondering what happened to our life. We can each START SOMEWHERE this moment designing our our environment of vitality and community. Join me as we find simple strategies together. You can do it. I will help you.
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