Fad diets seem to come and go as quickly as the pounds they promise to melt off. So, at first glance, a menu that allows plenty of meals and snacking – not to mention morning coffee, red wine and tea – seems like just another food fantasy.
Not so, say nutritional researchers and longevity experts who are encouraging people of all ages to aspire to a Blue Zone lifestyle.
Somewhat mysteriously, people living in the five Blue Zones (Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, Calif.) tend to live longer than anywhere else on Earth and have a higher percentage of centenarians (people who are over 100 years old).
But Dan Buettner says there’s really no mystery behind the longevity.
“The calculus of aging offers us two options: We can live a shorter life with more years of disability, or we can live the longest possible life with the fewest bad years,” said the National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author who discovered the zones. “As my centenarian friends showed me, the choice is largely up to us.”
Indeed, beyond red wine and coffee, Blue Zone locals eat a mostly plant-based diet high in whole grains, greens, sweet potatoes, nuts and beans. In fact, Buettner claims that eating just a cup of beans a day alone could add two to three years to your life.
In addition to diet, community involvement, social activity and a sense of purpose are key to embracing a Blue Zone mentality and lifestyle.
People living on the healthier side of life and maintaining a good weight due to diet and exercise typically receive the best life insurance rate offerings, too.
“No matter what risk you may be, it’s recommended to see your primary doctor once a year to get labs and any recommended testing your doctor may order completed,” said Brenda Silva, a AAA Northeast life insurance specialist. “Life insurance companies weigh their decisions very highly on what they review in your medical records and like to see that you are maintaining good health.”
Lastly, don’t forget to hit the hills every day. As it turns out, Blue Zone citizens live in hilly geographies and tend to be active walkers as opposed to sedentary sitters who drive everywhere. Need to get out more? Try an Active & Fit Direct subscription, or get personal training anywhere with Future.
Indeed, aspiring to live like the folks in Blue Zones shows there’s really no big secret to living a longer, happier life. Eat healthy, get exercise and have fun with your friends, and you’re more likely to be dancing the night away at your 100th birthday party.
To learn about life insurance options, visit AAA.com/Life.