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What is a Blue Zone Diet?
It began in 2004, when American explorer Dan Buetttner teamed up with National Geographic to identify places in the world where communities lived considerabley longer and better than the average person. Mr Buettner identifies five of these places termed Blue Zones and with the help of scientists began to research just what characteristics extended the longevity of these communities. He discovered that these long living communities showed several characteristics including a strong sense of family, constant physical activity and lean towards plant base diet.
Places in the world identified as “Blue Zone”
- Sardinia, Italy
- Okinawa, Japan
- Nicola, Costa Rica
- Ikaria, Greece
- Loma Linda, California
So why should we pay attention to what the people in the relatively isolated Blue Zone communities eat? Because, as Buettner writes, their more traditional diets harken back to an era before we were inundated with greasy fast food and sugar. And to qualify as a Blue Zone, these communities also have to be largely free of afflictions like heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes. So clearly they’re doing something right.These people don’t live long because of supplements, pills, or other such modern day cure like anti-aging serums. They do so because they are surroundings nudge them into the right behaviour.
In the new book, Buettner distills the researchers’ findings on what all the Blue Zones share when it comes to their diet. Here’s a taste:
- Use Fewer Ingredients ~Less variety may help keep people from overeating and keep the immune system strong.
- Add Cruciferous Vegetables ~ Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower have been known to help protect the heart, stave off cancer, and lower oxidative stress.
- Make Beans Tasty~ In the Blue Zones, beans are the main story. They’re cooked into soup and stews, enhanced with spices, and complemented by grains and vegetables.
- Finish Dishes with Olive Oil ~ Room temperature Olive oil is added to breads, drizzled over vegetables, and added to soups and stews.
- Supplement with Fresh Herbs and Spices~Rosemary, Oregano, Sage, Mint, Garlic, Turmeric, and Mugwort all possess well documented medicinal value.
- Fiber is More Important ~ Grains, greens, nuts, and beans not only contain protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that keep our heart healthy and our mind sharp they also feed eight pounds of bacteria living in our gut.
- Enjoy your meals with Red Wine ~ We have all heard plenty about polyphenols and antioxidants, which occur more often in red wine that white wine.
Finally, the author says that eating for longevity is not just what you eat, but how you eat. Blue zones teaches us that diner with family, pausing before a meal to express gratitude, fasting occasionally, eating a big breakfast, and trying to eat all of your calories in an eight~hour window helps stay healthier, live longer, and feel better.
Granted, it’s not easy to emulate the Blue Zoners especially if you live in the US or anywhere in the industrial world, where you’re likely to be tempted with bacon and cupcakes every day. And maybe you don’t want to become a vegan.
But Buettner has plenty to say about simple ways we could live like these isolated tribes of exceptional health in The Blue Zone Solution. That’s what he’s focused on now with the Blue Zone Project: helping communities adapt the cross-cutting tenets of a healthful lifestyle. So far, the project has gotten several towns and U.S. states.