9 simple steps to live longer and better inspired by the “Blue Zones” | wellness

9 simple steps to live longer and better inspired by the “Blue Zones” | wellness
9 simple steps to live longer and better inspired by the “Blue Zones” | wellness
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Longevity has become one of the main themes of today and the concern about how we will age has made many people review the way they live. According to a study of Danish twins, only 20% of our life expectancy is determined by our genetics, so making healthy choices lifestyle can make a big difference.

Living in a city and spending long hours sitting (sedentary lifestyles are the new smoking, scientists say) in front of multiple screens can limit our years, as well as their quality. Not to mention that in urban cities, loneliness is an epidemic. In 2019, the German government reported a loneliness crisis in Berlin, with single people living alone. Meanwhile, more than half of adults feel lonely in the United States, with feelings of isolation most present in the 18- to 24-year-old age group, according to a report. Human contact is a new luxury.

In the planet’s so-called “Blue Zones” – areas of the world inhabited by the highest concentration of centenarians, where people generally live longer and healthier lives – lifestyles are infinitely different from those we adopt in most metropolises.

National Geographic explorer and journalist Dan Buettner’s best-selling book called Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the Happiest People on the Planet, explores Okinawa in Japan, the Barbagia region in Sardinia, Ikaria in Greece, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, and the Seventh-day Adventists of California. Buettner identified, along with his team of doctors, anthropologists, demographers, and epidemiologists, a set of lifestyle habits that he calls the “Nine Principles of Power.”

Check out the nine simple steps below to live a longer life:

Move naturally

You don’t need to go to a gym to get moving. In communities where life expectancy is higher than average, the way life is designed promotes activities throughout the day – for example, cycling is part of the routine of those who live in Amsterdam. Try to naturally incorporate movement into your daily life, whether by swapping a car commute for a walk or taking the stairs whenever possible.

Identify your life purpose

Ikigai is the Japanese technique that refers to identifying your purpose in life, and is similar to the “plan de vida”, one of the longevity secrets of the inhabitants of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. “It’s time to adopt this technique too. Knowing our goal can contribute to seven more years of life”, says Buettner. How to identify it? Buettner explains that it’s about looking inside yourself and realizing what you’re passionate about, what you’re good at, what’s good for the community, and what you feel makes your life valuable.

Reduce stress

We live in societies that put us under constant pressure, both personally and globally. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, which also leads to disease. The secret, Buettner reveals, is to incorporate stress-relieving rituals into your daily routine, just like those who live in Blue Zones. If people on the island of Ikaria resort to afternoon naps and those on Okinawa take time to remember deceased loved ones, we too can adopt rituals that help us relax and recharge. Consider incorporating a meditative yoga session into your day or even something as simple as going for a walk or chatting with a friend, which can help reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone).

The 80% rule

When it comes to your diet, doctors and nutritionists encourage following the 80% rule. The idea is to try to stop eating before you feel full – approximately when you’ve reached 80% of your capacity. This method has been proven to help prolong life. How best to put it into practice? Eating slowly and more mindfully, away from your desk and computer, will help you intuitively understand how full you are. Chewing your food properly is also something to consider – experts suggest chewing each bite at least 20-30 times, to allow the satiety signal to move from your taste buds to your brain. Also, try to eat smaller amounts at night.

Try a plant-based diet

Adopting a plant-based diet is an effective way to prevent a variety of chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, nutritionists say. A recent study from the University of Bergen in Norway concluded that adopting a plant-based diet rich in whole grains, legumes, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables can add 10 years to your life expectancy. The diet of Blue Zones centenarians consists mainly of legumes such as black beans, adzuki beans, soybeans, lentils and broad beans, while meat is consumed only five times a month.

Drink wine – in moderation

In the Blue Zones, Buettner reveals that people drink local wine, but in moderation. Those who drink no more than one or two glasses of red wine a day, like the Sardinian centenarians, may even live longer than those who do without alcohol altogether.

Belonging to a community

Those who belong to a religious community, of any denomination or type, and who regularly participate in ceremonies can live four to 14 years longer than those who do not belong to any community. Try playing a team sport or joining a club, which can have the same effect. It’s the feeling of belonging and being part of a group that counts.

Prioritize family

Residents of the Blue Zones keep their loved ones close – literally. It is common for elderly people to live close by, or even at home, with their children, so that children grow up with both parents and grandparents. This is physically and mentally beneficial, whatever your age. Buettner also highlights that, growing up with grandparents, children get sick less. Couples who remain faithful companions can add at least three years to their life expectancy.

Cultivate friendships

Friendships are like plants: they need to be cared for and cultivated. Make sure you see friends in person and don’t rely on social media interaction, as this doesn’t offer the same health benefits. Buettner explains that those who live on the island of Okinawa create “moai.” These are groups of five to eight close friends who promise to be lifelong companions and support each other throughout their lives.

This article was originally published in Vogue Italia.
Translated by Sara Magalhães.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: simple steps live longer inspired Blue Zones wellness

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