The Blue Zones Solution by Dan Buettner
Have you heard of Blue Zones? I first learned about the research 7 or 8 years ago and was completely fascinated. The Blue Zones are five places around the world where people live to be 100 at much higher rates than other places, and don’t suffer from old-age chronic diseases like atherosclerosis or dementia at nearly the same rates as the rest of the world. I find this portion of the research particularly interesting because no matter how old I live to be, I’d like to feel well and have my faculties intact if possible. Coming from a family tree rife with both heart disease and Alzheimer’s, I’d love to do what I can to not end up in the same boat as so many of my family members.
So what are the guidelines, in brief? All of the Blue Zones (Sardinia, Italy, Ikaria, Greece, Okinawa, Japan, The Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, and Loma Linda, CA) share some dietary guidelines in common. They eat an overwhelmingly plant-based whole foods diet. It would probably be classified as “flexitarian” with no more than two small serving of meat, 2 servings of dairy (including sheep or goat-based cheeses and yogurts), and three eggs per week. Leafy greens and beans factor in heavily. Oats, corn, rice, and whole wheat are the grains most often consumed and processed foods are virtually absent.
The longevity secrets of the Blue Zones are certainly more than just their diet. Tight-knit families and communities, lack of technology use, walking a lot in daily life, a strong sense of life purpose, and genetics also seem to play a role, but experiments to “create” Blue Zones in communities with high rates of poor health have also shown some success as people primarily adjust their diets.
We’re already quite meat minimalist, but have committed to moving our diet even more in this direction. We’ve given a few recipes from the last section of this book a try in the last week and they’ve been delicious. I firmly believe healthy eating can and should taste good.