Think living a long and healthy life well into your nineties or even one hundred years old is only for those lucky few who hit the genetic lottery? Think again.
Lifestyle factors, i.e. the things you do every day over the long term – can add up to increase the number of quality years in your lifespan.
Look no further than the people of Blue Zones for proof of how powerful everyday habits are when it comes to staying healthy for the long haul.
The Blue Zones are regions around the world where people have very low rates of chronic disease and live longer compared to other populations.
They are located in regions of Greece, Sardinia, Costa Rica, Japan, and California, where a large number of Seventh-Day Adventists reside.
Because these communities are home to the greatest number of people who live healthfully into their nineties and even hundreds, researchers have studied them to determine just how they age so healthfully.
Do you have to live in an actual Blue Zone to guarantee longevity? No! You can adopt some of the well-studied lifestyle traits of these folks to promote health and longevity right where you are.
Here are the top 5 life “hacks” of the world’s longest-living people:
Eat a Plant-rich Diet
Blue Zone residents eat a mostly plant-based diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. Animal foods aren’t avoided – they eat smaller portions of meat a handful of times per month.
You don’t have to become a strict vegetarian or vegan, but it’s important to eat a variety of plant foods daily – they contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants that help decrease inflammation and protect you from chronic diseases, like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
A simple rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with vegetables at every meal. Yes, every meal!
Include Healthy Fats
Eat heart-healthy unsaturated and omega-3 fats in the form of olive oil, nuts, and fish.
Getting enough omega-3’s helps decrease disease-causing inflammation and keeps your heart and brain healthy.
Eating enough fat also keeps you feeling fuller longer, which can help prevent overeating that leads to weight gain – bonus!
Stop Eating Before You Feel 100% Full
Avoid the clean plate club. Eating slowly chewing your food thoroughly gives your brain and stomach time to register that it’s had enough to eat.
Blue Zone communities avoid overeating and eating beyond feelings of fullness, which again, can help prevent weight gain.
Drink Red Wine
Enjoying a glass of red wine a day increases your antioxidant intake, which is thought to decrease inflammation and help prevent heart disease.
Of course, moderation is key. Four ounces of wine is considered a glass and drinking more than that is associated with negative health effects.
Move Your Body Throughout the Day
Have you heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”? As in, it’s not good for your health to sit for extended periods of time.
Lack of physical activity and prolonged sitting is linked to weight gain, obesity, and increased mortality. Be sure to look for opportunities to add movement into your regular routines.
You might try:
- Stretching while you watch tv
- Take an after-dinner evening walk
- Park farther away from your destination
- Choose stairs over elevators
- Take standing and stretching breaks at work
- Use a stand-up workstation, and fidget while you work (or dance!)
- Choose a coffee shop farther away and walk to it
The world’s longest-living people live active lives that include daily physical activities, like gardening, walking, and manual tasks.
3 cups red lentils
12 cups water
1 large red onion, diced
2 small Yukon gold potatoes, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
4 cups Swiss chard, chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
¼ cup of lemon juice, more to taste
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
How to prepare
- In a large pot, add lentils and water and place on medium heat to boil.
- In a pan, sauté onions until pink, about 5 minutes. Add chopped Swiss chard and sauté together until chard is wilted, 2-3 minutes.
- After lentils have cooked about 8 minutes, add onion chard mixture, along with diced potatoes and zucchini to the boiling water.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and cook until the potatoes and lentils are completely cooked about 12 minutes.
- Add the chopped cilantro. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add lemon juice and cumin before serving.