Living Like the World's Oldest People Has Already Changed My Life. Here's How.
A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon an article about the world's Blue Zones. I had heard this term thrown around in the past, but I never paid much attention to it. But seeing as my job involves writing about healthy ways of eating and living, I decided to dig a little deeper.
I quickly became fascinated with Blue Zones. These five regions across the globe, which include Ikaria in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, Loma Linda in California, Nicoya in Costa Rica, and Sardinia in Italy, contain the highest concentration of centenarians and supercentenarians. Because of this, researchers have been tirelessly studying the Blue Zone longevity secrets for years.
After a while of reading and writing about the world's longest-living people, I felt inspired to try and model areas of my life after them. This included things like my diet, my daily movement, and even how I spend time with loved ones. I can easily say that after doing this for a few months, I already feel like my life has changed in many ways.
This one may seem obvious, but researching the world's longest-living people has given me plenty of ideas on how to eat healthier. I've spent much of my life trying new diets or ways of eating to try and reach my health goals, but the world's oldest people have been more inspiring than anything else I've seen in the past.
For one, these centenarians focus on eating fresh, whole foods. They don't diet, they don't count calories or macros, and they don't believe in heavy restrictions. Instead, they center their diets around getting plenty of nutrient-dense foods. Because of the accessibility and lifestyle of many of the Blue Zone centenarians, they naturally eat very little meat and added sugars.
Learning about their way of eating has helped me have more of an abundance mindset when I go to the grocery store now. I think less and less about avoiding certain foods that may be "unhealthy" and instead put my focus on foods that will give me the nutrients I need throughout the day.
More natural movement
Another thing that I admire so much about the world's longest-living people is that they incorporate movement into their day naturally. Because I work from home, my day is usually set up to where I'll sit at my desk for hours on end, and then squeeze in some time at the gym in the evening. But people in the Blue Zones spend a lot of time walking, biking, and gardening, which keeps them active throughout the day.
I love my gym time, so I don't see that changing any time soon. But what I have enjoyed incorporating into my daily routine are more mid-day walking breaks, and even sitting on the floor whenever I can! Many centenarians in Okinawa, Japan sit on the floor to eat, read, drink tea, and spend time with their loved ones, and this practice is one of the things that researchers believe has contributed to their longevity!
One of the things I love most about the world's oldest people is that they seem to truly indulge themselves in what they enjoy. People in Ikaria, Greece, and Sardinia, Italy (two of the world's blue zones) treat themselves to a glass of red wine on a daily basis.
Sister André, who is currently the world's oldest woman, also drinks red wine on a regular basis. And Jeanne Calment, who was the world's oldest woman until she passed at 122, ate chocolate every day!
Living like the oldest people has shown me that life truly is about balance. I don't have to eat chocolate at every meal, but I also don't have to completely restrict myself from the things I love.
Focusing on what I value
Beyond eating habits and movement, the most impactful lesson I've learned from the world's oldest people is that placing your value on the important things in life can greatly contribute to your longevity.
Blue Zone centenarians attribute their long lives to things like having a purpose, helping others, and spending time in community. For me, this has helped me say yes to more social opportunities and seek out more time to spend with my friends and family. Yes, it's important to eat healthy food, move my body throughout the day, and indulge when I want to, but over the last few months, I've truly been reminded of the importance of the people in my life.
For more tips on longevity, make sure to check out The 7 Foods My 96-Year Old Nana Always Eats for a Long Life.