The Secret to Longevity

The Secret to Longevity

Contributed by Nutritionist and Naturopath Tiffany Wee

What are Blue Zones?

Blue Zones refer to regions with the largest populations of centenarians. Coined so by author Dan Buettner as he and his colleagues drew blue circles around them on a map while studying these areas, the Blue Zones not only boast the highest concentration of the world's longest lived people. Longevity aside, centenarians in these regions enjoy a healthy productive life, with lower rates of chronic disease than anywhere else in the world.

Where are the Blue Zones?

In his book called The Blue Zones, Buettner described five known regions:

Icaria (Greece): A Greek island where people eat a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, red wine and home-grown vegetables. They have the lowest rates of dementia.

Sardinia (Italy): The mountainous highlands of inner Sardinia is home to the highest concentration of male centenarians. They live in mountainous regions where they typically work on farms and drink lots of red wine.

Okinawa (Japan): Okinawa is home to the world's oldest women, who eat plenty of soy-based foods and practise hara hachi bu, a cultural tradition to eat mindfully.

Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica): The Nicoyan diet revolves around beans and corn tortillas. People here commonly perform physical jobs into old age and have a sense of life purpose known as 'plan de vida'.

Loma Linda, California (USA): The Seventh-day Adventists here are a very religious group of people. Strict vegetarians who are a part of tight-knit communities, they live 10 years longer than their North American counterparts.

A Guide to Living Better and Longer

Based on Buettner's research, longevity can be attributed specific lifestyle and environmental factors. Here are three practices that the healthiest centenarians live by:

Fuel the body with plant-based food

A predominantly plant-based diet provides the body with sufficient fibre and prebiotics to boost gut health and ensure a steady supply of polyphenols, which can reduce the incidence of diseases and promote longevity. Downshift from life's daily stresses

When we are under duress, our bodies react by producing an inflammatory response. Keeping stress at bay reduces our risk for diseases - like Alzheimer's and heart disease - that have been linked to inflammation.

Find your tribe

Apart from family and friends, being part of a community that shares your interests, faith and beliefs not only provides a sense of camaraderie and purpose, but offers proven health and well-being benefits as well.

Zooming into Food Matters

Here are the four best and worst foods according to the Blue Zones food guidelines.

Four Always

100% whole grains: Rich fibre content supports digestive functions, Tryptophan boosts mood 

Nuts: Good source of fats essential for heart and brain health

Beans: High in protein, complex carbohydrates and fibre, which aids muscle growth and maintenance   Contain a ready supply of prebiotics to feed good gut bacteria 

Fruits and vegetables: Full of phytonutrients and antioxidants that lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart diseases and prevent some forms of cancer 

Four to Avoid

These four types of foods have been linked with obesity, heart disease and cancer:

Sugar-sweetened beverages Salty snacks Packaged sweets Processed meats

Piqued to find out more? Join our in-house Naturopath and Nutritionist Tiffany Wee as she shares more tips on living a long and healthy life.

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