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How To Live a Long, Happy Life (By Not Changing A Whole Lot)

Have you ever wondered what makes some people live longer than others?

Is it geography, culture, a sense of community…diet?

Those were the types of questions Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow, New York Times Best Selling Author and TED Talk speaker wanted to answer when he set off on a quest in 2000 to find the secrets to longevity.

And find them he did…

What The World’s Healthiest People Do

In summary, Buettner took a team of researchers (anthropologists, demographers, epidemiologists) around the world to study communities who had a high percentage of centenarians.

What they discovered was that the world’s healthiest people:

  • Move everyday– low intensity exercise is a daily occurrence.
  • Spend time with like-minded people.
  • Take time to unwind, recuperate and de-stress.
  • Are a part of spiritual communities.
  • Make family a top priority.

These places (there are only 5 in the world) are dubbed the “Blue Zones.”

What The “Blue Zone” Diets Get Right

The 5 “Blue Zones” are: Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Ogliastra Region, Sardinia; Loma Linda, California and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.

While these regions differ in many ways, they share common practices when it comes to their diet. If you were to change anything about the way you eat, do these things:

  1. Veggies At Every Meal. Blue Zoner diets include at least two veggies at every meal. They also eat beans often.
  2. Don’t Eat Until You Feel Full. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to tell your stomach that it is full. Okinawans are known to follow, “Hara hachi bu,” which means, eat until you are 80 percent full.
  3. Alcohol in moderation. 1-2 glasses a day is good for you. Sardinians (Italy) regularly drink wine from the Grenache grapes.
  4. Small meals later in the day. Eat your smallest meal of the day in the late afternoon or evening.
  5. Small amounts of meat. Blue Zoners eat meat in small portions of about 3 to 4 ounces and rarely.

The best thing about these changes?

They are all doable.

And you don’t have to implement them all at once. You can slowly work your way to doing all of these things over time.

*For more detail into what each of the 5 Blue Zones consistently ate click here.


Author: Monica Straith, BS

Monica is the PR and Outreach Manager and Fitness Lead at AlgaeCal. She’s an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist, and has a B.S. and B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she played varsity soccer for four years. Monica pulls from her experience in athletics and health to contribute to AlgaeCal and has also been featured on myfitnesspal blog, Prevention, and Huffington Post.