Some years ago now some researchers wanted to study the oldest and healthiest populations. They marked these on a map with blue circles. And so these areas came to be known as “Blue Zones”.
There is an on-going project to research these long-lived and healthy people. The results of studying these people – giving us insight into how to live a long and healthy life – are now starting to be presented.
The most accessible presentation of this data is a kind of ‘long and healthy life pyramid’. There are nine factors, organised in a pyramid of four layers, that are shared by all the societies characterised by long and healthy lives. You can find the graphic on the Blue Zones About page.
The foundation is a sense of belonging to a group. This has three components:
- putting loved ones first
- connecting with a faith tradition, and
- surrounding yourself with the ‘right people’.
The next tier in the pyramid is eating wisely. This also has three components:
- eat 20% less at meals (eat ‘til 70% full or until ‘lightly satisfied’),
- eat whole foods, mostly plants (to paraphrase Michael Pollan), avoid processed foods, and,
- the fun one: a couple of glasses of wine daily.
The next tier is concerned with outlook, which they call “Right Outlook”. This only has two components:
- a sense of purpose, and
- periods of calm each day.
Finally, at the top of the period there is movement. This is concerned with,
- moving naturally. That is, having our living spaces organised to encourage movement and moving in ways we love – doing things with our loved ones but also doing activities we love (walking, dancing, gardening, playing and so on)
These nine factors are shared by all those societies characterised by living to a healthy old age. Most encouragingly they are things that are often within our control and can involve small adjustments. Our health in our old age (with a little luck) is largely within our control – and there are small things we can do that can make a real difference.
These findings I think are remarkably important and quite encouraging.
Would you like to feel less stressed?
Could you do with more joy in your life?
The answer is living authentically. Buy the book or sign up for the course now from my Living Authentically website.