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Changing Diet for Longevity

By Luci Fardo

Health and fitness have been something I have studied since I was a child. There is so much more knowledge now than when I was a child. Fortunately for me I always believed that foods that were the least processed were the most healthy. I am so glad that I didn't go along with processed margarine, vegetable oil and trends that were popular as I grew up. I believe that has helped me to have much better health than a lot of folks whose lives have been shortened due to what they were told as children.

As a child I asked my grandmother what she had eaten that allowed her to remain so healthy and active. She gardened and canned at a large scale until the year that she passed away. She told me that she had oatmeal every morning, she ate mostly fruit and vegetables and the large meals she prepared for get togethers were for special occasions. She said she avoided processed foods and that the key to her good health was walking. She had a car that people could drive her places, but most of the time she walked. She walked about five miles to church. She would walk to visit family and friends who were within a few miles of her.

The newest thing that has come out in recent years to me has been the Blue Zone Diet. The Blue Zones diet is an eating plan that emulates the dietary habits of the people who live in the world’s five "blue zones," locations throughout North and Central America, Europe, and Asia where the inhabitants are 10 times more likely than Americans to live to age 100. The diet’s name comes from the blue circles researchers drew around these geographic regions on a map when they first identified them. According to research published in Nutrients in May 2018, people living in these regions also enjoy lower rates of chronic disease than those living elsewhere, and their diet is believed to be a major component of why.

The people in these areas adopt an 80% full when eating. This is something that I have always done in my life and I was quite pleased to see that this was attributed to a longer life.

Blue zones residents don’t eat a lot of meat, focusing instead on fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. They also focus on eating seasonal food and locally farmed meat and produce.

Most of the people in these areas did drink some wine each day in a limited amount. They also drank coffee, tea and a lot of water.

A fantastic book that I read yesterday was "Blue Zones Solution" by Dan Buettner.

What Are the Types of Blue Zones?

There are five blue zones throughout the world where people tend to live long and healthy lives. While they share some common lifestyle habits, they are all unique.

  • Okinawa, Japan Older Okinawans grow (or used to grow) gardens, so they get exercise, stress relief, and fresh produce built into their lifestyle.

  • Sardinia, Italy Sardinians typically eat meat only on Sundays and special occasions, focusing on whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruit for most of their meals. They also drink a glass or two of red wine daily.

  • Nicoya, Costa Rica Nicoyans eat a light, early dinner, and many older Nicoyans’ diets center around squash, corn, and beans.

  • Ikaria, Greece Ikarians generally follow the Mediterranean diet, and as Greek Orthodox Christians, fasts are a standard part of their religious practices.

  • Loma Linda, California A community of Seventh-Day Adventists lives in Loma Linda. Those who live the longest follow a vegetarian or pescatarian diet (where fish and seafood is the main protein), and overall tend to eat a diet low in sugar, salt, and refined grains.

Potential Health Benefits of a Blue Zones Diet

  • A diet higher in plant-based foods was associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease general population, according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in August 2019.

  • A diet higher in whole grains may lower your risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition in March 2021. The Blue Zones diet cites the U.S. dietary guidelines for whole grains, which recommends at least three servings a day. And, a diet high in beans may reduce your risk of certain types of cancer.

  • A Mediterranean-style diet like the Blue Zones diet may also alter your microbiome in ways that could make you less frail and could improve your cognitive function as you age.

  • Eating more nuts, as the Blue Zones diet recommends, may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to research

  • A diet centered around plants and whole foods could significantly reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, according to an umbrella review published in the journal Nutrients in July 2020. Diets high in processed meat and sugar or artificial sugar-sweetened beverages, meanwhile, significantly increased risk of the metabolic disease.

  • Eating fiber, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables may help you sleep better and longer, with less insomnia.

  • The polyphenols, or healthful compounds found in plant-based foods, may help increase longevity by slowing the onset of age-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in Antioxidants in March 2021.

Foods to Eat and Avoid on a Blue Zones Diet

People who live in blue zones don’t all eat the same diet, but there are a lot of similarities in what they eat. In general, this diet focuses on non-processed whole foods such as leafy greens, in-season fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans, and limits processed foods and added sugars (including artificial sweeteners). Here are some foods to include if you’re trying this eating plan:

  • Fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes should make up 95 to 100 percent of what you eat. You can include meat on special occasions if you like.

  • The plan recommends up to 3 ounces of fish such as sardines, anchovies, or cod at least three times a week.

  • The plan suggests at least ½ cup of cooked beans a day. Black beans, garbanzos, white beans and soy beans are some good varieties.

  • Two handfuls, or about 2 ounces, of nuts such as almonds and pistachios per day

  • Whole grains — farro, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, bulger, and cornmeal are top choices. You can also try whole-grain pasta and bread.

  • Unsweetened beverages — water, coffee, tea, and moderate amounts of red wine are all on the diet (though if you don’t drink alcohol, this doesn’t mean you should start).

I wanted to share this diet with you. This is what I am following to improve my health and more importantly how I feel. I want to live a lot more quality years. I hope that you will at least think about applying some of this in your own life. Let me know if it helps you? I always want to know how you are and if the articles I write are of some help in your personal life.


great photo under tree_edited.jpg

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