Blue Zones’ 9 Tips for Living Longer

Topics: 

Local health and wellness initiative Blue Zones Project is popping up everywhere around town – from grocery stores like Whole Foods and Central Market to restaurants like Fixture and Terra –in an effort to make healthy choices easier for Fort Worthians.

But where exactly did this blue buzz come from? National Geographic explorers set out to find the highest number of concentrated centenarians (that is, people at least 100 years old or older) around the world. The research documented in Dan Buettner’s book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest, highlights what folks from Sardinia, Okinawa, Ikaria, Loma Linda and Costa Rica are doing that the average American isn’t. What they found is that their environments and nine common practices, called the Power 9, can help people live longer, happier lives.

These nine principles will be celebrated at Blue Zones’ Power9 Party, taking place Saturday from 8:30-11:30 a.m. at Panther Island Pavilion. This free, family-friendly event will offer tons of activities that get you moving, live entertainment, pet adoptions, free healthy food and juice, plus giveaways like FitBits, yoga memberships and restaurant gift cards.   

From knowing your purpose to prioritizing family, these nine simple principles encourage small environmental changes to actually reverse engineering longevity.

1. Family First

Making time for loved ones is a priority for the successful centenarians featured in Buettner’s book. They commit to a life partner, spend quality time with their children and honor their elders by keeping grandparents and aging parents in their home or nearby.

2. Move Naturally

Instead of hitting the gym or running marathons, these centenarians live in environments that encourage them to move without even thinking about it. They grow gardens, do their own house chores and often walk to work. 

3. Right Tribe

The world’s longest-living people surround themselves with those that support positive behaviors. The people in Okinawa, for example, form “Moais,” or groups that meet weekly in their youth and support each other for life.

4. Purpose

Purpose is knowing why you get out of the bed in the morning and what you contribute to the world. Know your unique gifts and share them with others to benefit the community.

5. Down Shift

Although stress is inevitable no matter where you live, take time to unwind or reset throughout the day either through prayer, meditation, napping or even happy hour.

6. 80% Rule

With Texas-sized portions, this one can be a toughie. Centenarians know to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full. That 20 percent can be the difference between losing weight and gaining it.

7. Plant Slant

We all know eating more fruits and vegetables is good for us, but the foundation of most centenarian diets also includes beans, such as fava, black beans, soy and lentils. Meat – mostly pork – is eaten just five times per month on average. 

8. Wine @ 5

This is one of the favorites. All of the people in the original Blue Zones (except Adventists in Loma Linda) drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Enjoying one or two glasses of wine per day (especially the Sardinian Cannonau wine that contains antioxidant-filled flavonoids) with friends can offer physical and social health benefits. And no, you can’t save up all 14 drinks for one Friday.

9. Belong

Faith is an integral part of longer living. Research shows that those who belong to some faith-based or spiritual community can add between four and 14 years of life expectancy.