You may be surprised to learn that people who eat well, exercise daily and do not smoke are up to 75 percent less likely to contract any disease in the course of their lives. Think about that statistic for a few seconds. I am talking about lifestyle choices we can take now that may allow us to not only live longer but to live disease free well into our twilight years.
Researchers have discovered five areas of the world, known as “Blue Zones”, in which the inhabitants are 10 times more likely to live into their 100s and three times more likely to live into their 90s. These Blue Zones include Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Nicoya, Costa Rica. Based on this Blue Zone research, Dan Buettner (bluezones.com) has come up with eight questions to predict your longevity.
Answer yes or no to the following questions:
1. Do you get at least 7.5 hours of sleep at least five nights per week?
2. Do you eat at least 4 honest servings of fruits and vegetables (no, ketchup is not a vegetable)?
3. Have you not smoked for at least 3 years?
4. Have you never had unprotected sex with a stranger (be honest!)?
5. Do you belong to a faith-based community and show up four times per month?
6. Do you have at least 3 good friends whom 1) you like; 2) you can have serious conversations; and 3) you can call on a bad day and they will care?
7. Can you write on a piece of paper in one sentence your life’s purpose?
8. Do you exercise at least 30 minutes per day?
Based on life expectancy rates, if you answered “yes” 3 or fewer times you can expect to live to 76 and have 5 bad years at the end of your life. If you answered “yes” between 4 and 6 times you can expect to live to 84 with 3 bad years. For those of you who raised your hand 7 or more times you can expect to live into your 90s.
So, here are a few lessons for longevity shared by each of these Blue Zone communities (from The Sacred Science):
First, people need a sense of belong. Elderly people in these societies are seen as useful and are consulted regularly. They are not seen as a burden to society but a blessing for their years of accumulated wisdom. In a larger sense, we all need to feel this sense of purpose and belonging.
Second, people need to put family and faith first. Clearly, the things we accumulate in our lives are not nearly as important as the people we surround ourselves with. For example, many of these blue zone communities prioritize family by truly taking a day off on the weekend to spend with each other - no technology or outside distractions. When was the last time any of us truly shut down all distractions and spent time together?
Finally, people should eat a primarily plant based diet. Most of the people in these communities do eat meat. However, they do not eat meat at every meal or even every day. The general rule seems to be that meat is reserved for special occasions and small portions a few times per week. Additionally, there is a general emphasis on portion size. In Okinawa they have a saying that translates to “eat until you are 80 percent full.”
If you want to live a long and full life get straight on your life purpose, prioritize your family and friends, and eat and enjoy smaller portions and more plant food (not to mention exercise regularly and do not smoke). Makes sense to me!
How was your score? What areas do you need to improve on? Will you change anything about your life with this information?
Be well and live long everyone!