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3 Things We Can Learn From Blue Zones

May 16, 2016 3 min read

Have you ever wondered whether there are areas of the world that just "get it?" Where people are healthy and happy, but not rich, or privileged...where communities have simply figured out how to live in a way that makes sense for us as a species? [caption id="attachment_128589" align="alignleft" width="253"]LomaLinda_Cali The beautiful tranquility of Loma Linda, CA.[/caption] Dan Buettner wondered the same thing, and in 2004 he did something about it. He was a bestselling author who asked National Geographic to fund a study about areas of the world where people lived longest. He called these "Blue Zones," and what he discovered was far, far more interesting than simple longevity. He discovered that in Ikaria (Greece), Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California), Sardinia (Italy), and Nicoya (Costa Rica) people live measurably longer lives, but they are also happier. There is 20% less cancer, half the normal rate of heart disease for Americans, and almost no dementia. There are many reasons for this, and you can read them all in his book, if you are interested. However, we've summarized the three main reasons why people in Blue Zones are living healthier, happier lives: 1. No processed foods. This is a big one. Meat is consumed to a lesser extent than legumes, but the biggest factor is the extent to which people are preparing their own meals. Fresh fruit and vegetables, and simple grains and beans (black, kidney, soy) form the basis of their diet. In fact, in Okinawa, the instance of fast food restaurants in that region formed "brown" regions in an otherwise Blue Zone, meaning that people living near and eating American food were prone to depression and disease, whereas in rural areas where traditional diets were the norm, people remained exceptionally healthy in their minds and bodies. [caption id="attachment_128590" align="alignleft" width="625"]okinawa_food Daily fare in Okinawa, Japan.[/caption] 2. Daily physical exercise. As well as a healthy, home-cooked diet, people in Blue Zones tend to have lifestyles that are active. As all of these communities are rural and a lot of this activity has to do with farming or tending to outdoor crops and orchards. While this may not be your life choice, think of the implication this has on the rest of us. We were not meant to be so sedentary. We were born to move, walk, climb, carry all kinds of weights and walk significant distances. These activities don't just keep us lean and fit...they keep us calm and comparatively stress-free. [caption id="attachment_128591" align="alignleft" width="625"]Surfing is a major activity in Nicoya, Costa Rica. Surfing is a major activity in Nicoya, Costa Rica.[/caption] 3. Community engagement. In all of the Blue Zone communities, people knew what was happening in each other's lives...inter-generationally. This is rare in North American societies. For instance, Blue Zone grandparents know what is happening in the lives of teenagers, and parents know how to quietly care for older generations in a way that preserves their dignity. In addition to this kind of inter-genenerational care, there are "break out groups:" older generations have a daily glass of wine with their contemporaries, parents get together without kids, women spend some time each day with just women, and so on. This indicates that as a species, we thrive on diversity but we also need to hear stories and thoughts from people who have had the same experiences that we've had. Which brings us to why we love Beuttner's study so damn much! BodyRock follows exactly these principles. We have from day one. We've been talking about fitness, as you know, and the importance of healthy eating. Indeed, the cornerstone of our Meal Plan is cooking at home and avoiding processed foods! In addition, every day we launch our discussions from several social media platforms that promote social engagement. We attempt to create spaces where BodyRockers can share stories and experiences as often and as freely as possible. We could never do all this without you. So let's learn from Blue Zones, and help each other live longer happier lives! Learn our philosophies, live by our guidelines, and discover that your household becomes a little Blue Zone all on its own. salmon

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