Sunday, March 21, 2010

Living Long-Tips from the Blue zones

It is interesting to watch the ongoing debate about the Obama health care bill. What’s even more interesting is to follow research on longevity, health and happiness and see how much of this has been incorporated into the bill. The quick answer is very little.

If you are not familiar with Blue zones, these are places inhabited by the world’s longest-lived populations- Okinawa Japan, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costra Rica, Sardinia, Italy and Loma Linda California. Interestingly, it’s not so much the genetics or the availability to high tech care, but rather its lifestyle habits- diet, exercise, beliefs and attitude-that play a major role in health and life expectancy.

There are four basic concepts that appear to improve chances of longevity:
Move Naturally – Make your home, community and workplace present you with natural ways to move. Focus on activities you love, like gardening, walking and playing with your family. Exercise is automatically incorporated into your daily life. These people are not long distance runners or tri athletes.

Right Outlook – Know and be able to articulate your sense of purpose, and ensure your day is punctuated with periods of calm. Naps are really good.

Eat Wisely – No dieting among these groups, instead they eat 20% less at meals, whole foods that are plant based, limited meat and little to no processed foods.

Belong to the Right Tribe – Surround yourself with the right people, make the effort to connect or reconnect with your religion and put loved ones first. We're evolutionarily designed to socialize so there is likely a biological link between connectedness and how well our bodies (immune system, etc) works. The knowledge that we're not alone in the world reduces stress, puts us at ease. Other people can give our lives meaning, a reason to get up and out of the house. There are a variety of ways to increase the people in your life that are the “right fit” for you-do what you love and follow that path. If you enjoy painting, become a dosen at a museum. Love singing or running, join a chorus or a running group. It’s more about sharing activities you enjoy with people who also enjoy those things, and incorporating as many healthy routines into as many areas of your life!

Many people can’t afford health insurance, or have such high deductibles they’re hesitant to seek care. Yet, the key to healthy living, as we see from those that are outliving most Americans, isn’t necessarily in making heavy use of your health plan. Maybe one of the things we can do to be proactive is adopt the Blue zones Top Ten for TV

Blue zones Top Ten for TV
1. De-convenience your home – lose the remote, buy a light garage door and lift it yourself, use a shovel instead of a snowblower

2. Eat Nuts – Have a can of nuts around your office or home, eat a handful daily

3. Drink Sardinian wine – Sardinian canonau wine has the world's highest levels of antioxidants. Drink a glass or two a day

4. Play with your children – this is excellent low intensity exercise and will strenthen a family. Both associated with longer life expectancy

5. Grow a Garden – This proven stress reducer will put your body through the range of motion and yield fresh vegtables

6. Hour of Power – Downshift daily with a nap, meditation, prayer or a quiet walk--destressing is a proven way to slow aging

7. Eat Tofu – Arguably the world's most perfect food, eaten by the world's longest lived women. Contains a plant estrogen that makes skin look younger

8. Get a Tan – Doctors are rethinking the notion of slathering yourself with sunscreen. Up to half of Americans are Vitamin D deficient--a condition that can double your chance of dying in any given year. A tan not only looks healthy, it is.

9. Donate your large dinner plates – eat off 9 inch plates as the Okinawans do and reduce calorie consumption at dinner by 20-30%

10. Write Down your Personal Mission – Know and putting into practice your sense of purpose can give you up to a decade of good life.

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