How to live a healthier & longer life

It is one thing to live a long life but it’s a whole different ballgame to live a long life brimming with fulfillment and good health.  Who are these people who achieve this and what are their secrets?  

There are such places around the world referred to as “blue zones.”  A 2015 book called The Blue Zones Solution written by Dan Buettner, extols on how the world’s longest-living people have eaten over the past 100 years exposing their secrets to dying young as old as possible.

Blue zones are where people live extraordinarily healthy, long lives. These hot spots of health are found dotted throughout the planet from Greece, Italy, Japan, and Costa Rica with one blue zone area in the United States found in Loma Linda, California.  The people living in these areas have found certain ways of living to maintain a healthy body weight, reverse disease, and increase life satisfaction just by changing the way they live, eat and connect with others. 

The blue zones are not just about how long we live, but also how well we live.  Each day we make lifestyle choices that are determinants to our health and well-being.  It’s been found that when we eat well, stress less, move more, and love more, we can lead a very healthy, fulfilling life.  Some of the lifestyle choices we should all embrace daily include:

·         Choosing a whole foods, plant-based diet.

·         Practicing stress management including yoga and meditation.

·         Regular moderate physical activity such as walking.

·         Participating in meaningful activities within your community bringing you a sense of purpose in life.

To get started on living a more “blue zone” lifestyle, one way is to design your surroundings, where you live, so that blue zone choices are always the easiest.  Here are a few changes you can make today within your living environment to create your own personal blue zone in your part of the world:

·         Always keep healthy ingredients on hand and within sight.

·         Keep the center section of your refrigerator filled with fruits and vegetable so you see them first.

·         Use dinner plates no larger than 10 inches.

·         Drink beverages out of tall, narrow glasses – no more than 2.5 inches in diameter.  Narrower glasses make us think we are drinking more than we are.

·         Dim the lights in your home an hour before bed.  Your body will be prepared for sleep helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

·         At bedtime, set the thermostat at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. 

·         Make your bedroom a no-electronics zone – no TV, computer or cell phones by the bed.

·         Each day weigh yourself first thing in the morning with little to no clothes on.  Studies have shown people who weigh themselves daily weigh less than those who rarely weigh themselves.

·         If possible, grow a garden or grow indoor plants.  Gardening utilizes physical activity and lowers stress hormones and plants help clean the air.

·         Own a dog or cat.  Pets make great companions and encourage you to walk and be more active.

·         Create an indoor exercise area where you keep exercise equipment, weights, a yoga mat or stability ball. 

·         Join a club or do volunteer work that sparks your interest or talents.  Belonging to a social network with other people with common interests promotes feelings of happiness and self-worth. 

A blue zone way of life is achievable by anyone.  Consider how our health would change if we all embraced the philosophy of such a lifestyle.  Once you’ve crossed into the blue zone, you’ll never want to go back to your old way of living.