We recently read an article by Bill Delehant in WELCOA’s January 2020 Well Balanced Newsletter, and we were very intrigued! Delehant is WELCOA’s Marketing and Project Manager and he has a background in journalism. In his article he explains that “blue zones” are where people routinely live to be 100 years old, maintain their vitality longer, and rarely succumb to chronic disease. Places that are considered “blue zones” are Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula; and Loma Linda, California, and we have many lessons to learn from the way people live in these areas.
The Key to Living to 100
While some would say the people in these areas live to be 100 because of their diet, the funny thing is, they all have very different diets! Delehant outlines that Greece and Italy live on the high fat Mediterranean diet, Japan consumes a low fat diet with high amount of starches and vegetables, Costa Rica has an omnivorous diet with some meat, poultry and fish, and a wide variety of vegetables, and then Loma Linda, California, has a 100% vegan diet. Despite all these differences, though, they have one thing in common: whole, natural foods. So, that means that no one diet is the answer, it is the quality of the foods you consume. The key is to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Then from there, pick the diet that works for your lifestyle and your body type, and stick with it!
Additional Tips for a Long, Healthy Life
In addition to eliminating as much processed foods and sugars from your diet as possible, here are additional lifestyle tips that will help you live to be 100!
1. Exercise Frequently: Regular workouts can reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, arthritis pain, and even anxiety and depression. For the best results, incorporate aerobic exercises, balance exercises, strength training, and stretching into your weekly routine.
2. Walk More: The more your body moves, the healthier it becomes. Gary W. Small, MD, director of the UCLA Longevity Center, suggests scheduling times everyday to walk. It could be a brisk walk with a friend or nightly walks with your family. Either way, you are getting more exercise and reducing stress. A great goal is to work your way up to achieving 10,000 steps a day!
5. Don’t Smoke: In order to live a long, healthy life it is important to stop smoking, or better yet, never start! Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other products with nicotine harm almost every organ in your body. These products are directly linked to heart disease, cancer, lung and gum disease, and many other health problems.
4. Get Quality Sleep Each Night: As stated by the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health. Processing, restoration, and strengthening all occurs while you sleep, leading to a healthy body and mind. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, causes fatigue, stress, aches and pains, and can deteriorate your health overtime.
4. Stay Connected: There are numerous studies that show that those who have strong relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. Delehant explains that these studies are proven in the “blue zones” where the strong communities helped ease the strain of the residents’ workloads and contributed to their sense of well-being.
6. Go To Annual Checkups: Visiting your doctor regularly helps them find potential health conditions or diseases before they become a problem. Early detection also gives you the best chance for getting the right treatment and recovering quickly with less complications. Preventative care is incredibly important when it comes to healthy aging, so make this month the time to set up your annual health checkups and screenings.
7. Stay Positive: Mayo Clinic research has proven that a positive attitude leads to a healthier life. Optimists have stronger immune systems, lower levels of cardiovascular disease and a longer life span when compared to pessimists. A positive outlook is not only good for your health, but it also improves productivity and performance in your everyday life. To learn how to achieve and maintain a positive attitude, click here!
8. Focus on Your Hobby or Passion: When you have a hobby or a passion that you dedicate time to, you benefit from it both mentally and physically. It gives you something to work on, to set goals around, and it keeps you growing and learning. Research done by multiple psychologists also shows that having a hobby can help reduce stress, improve your overall health, and even improve your work performance.