The Blue Zones: 9 of the rules of longevity of people who live the longest

© Paul Calver

On Earth, there is a "gray area" where people are different enviable longevity - the island of Sardinia in Italy, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, Okinawa Prefecture in Japan and the community of Loma Linda in California. The team made several expeditions to these regions to uncover the secrets of health and high life expectancy. Dan Buettner in his book "The Blue Zones. 9 of the rules of longevity of people who live the longest »

Natural movement
The oldest people on earth do not run marathons or participate in a triathlon, and on Saturday mornings not pose as a sports star. On the contrary, they are engaged in low-intensity physical activity, which is an integral part of their daily routine. Men's long-lived in the "blue zone" of Sardinia most of the life of a shepherd, and they had spent many kilometers a day on foot to pass. Okinawans are working in the garden every day. Adventists have a lot of walking on foot. That such a plan for physical activity longevity experts recommend for a long and healthy life. According to Dr. Robert Kane, "the available evidence suggests that moderate exercise is very useful».

The ideal mode that you should discuss with your doctor, includes a combination of aerobics and exercises for balance and muscle strengthening. Dr. Robert Butler recommends train major muscle groups at least twice a week. The balance is also of great importance, as falls are a common cause of injury and death among the elderly (in the United States each year one in three people over 65 years old received fractures due to falls). Even standing on one leg (for example, when brushing your teeth) - a small step towards improving the balance


© Gianluca Colla
Yoga also helps to maintain a balance, strengthening all muscle groups, increasing flexibility, beneficial acting on the joints and reduce pain in the lower back. In addition, yoga is a means of communication and spiritual enrichment, as well as religion.

In all cultures, longevity regular low-intensity physical activity meets all the above requirements and thus does not create a burden on the knees and hips. That's what says about this Dr. Kane: "You should not act like a sprinter, and as a runner for a few kilometers. You can not say this year I will train like crazy, but the rest the following year, because its already fulfilled. " The main task - to have a habit of doing exercise 30 minutes (ideally - within an hour) at least five times a week. You can, but it's still desirable to break the half-an-hour for a few taps.

Reduce your calories by 20 percent

If you are ever lucky enough to meet over lunch with elderly Okinawans, you are sure to hear how they are pronounced before a meal old Confucian saying: hara hati bu. This is a reminder that you should not cram full, and should stop eating when the stomach is full by 80 percent. Even today, the daily amount of calories they consume no more than 1900 kcal (rather meager diet Sardinians also is about 2000 kcal per day).

Dr. Craig Wilcox argues that this tradition is a kind of painless options to limit consumption. And this method is really effective: it increases the life span of experimental animals and improve heart function in humans. To some extent, the benefits of calorie restriction caused less damage caused to cells by free radicals. But there is also another plus: weight reduction. As is known, a decrease of 10 percent of body weight helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and this in turn reduces the risk of heart disease. But how can this be achieved? We do not live in the Japanese archipelago and surrounded by centuries-old cultural norms.

The traditional means of combating the growing waistline is diet. But none of the known centenarians never sat on a diet, and none of them suffered from obesity. "Today, there is no diet that would be suitable for all people, - says Dr. Bob Jeffery from the University of Minnesota. - As a rule, comply with the diet for about six months, and then 90 percent of people simply ends the fuse. " Even in the most effective programs, only a small number of participants receive long-term outcome.

The secret of good nutrition - to follow the habits of the most long-lived people in the world. Dr. Brian Wansink, author of "Mindless power» (Mindless Eating), had, perhaps, the most innovative research into the causes of our eating habits. As is known subconsciously elderly Okinawans, the amount of food eaten is dependent not so much the feeling of satiety, but also on the environment. We overeat because of the circumstances - friends, family, plates, dishes names, numbers, labels, light, flowers, candles, scents, shapes, distractions, cupboards and containers

. In one of the experiments, Wansink suggested that the group of participants to view video and handed each of them a 500-gram or 250-gram bag of M & amp; M's. After watching the video, he asked both groups to return uneaten candy. Those who received a 500-gram bags, ate an average of 171 sweet, but those who went 250-gram - just 71. We tend to eat more if you take a big bag. Wansink conducted similar experiments using 47 different products, and each time got the same results. He also noted the impact that has on the amount eaten dishes. At least three quarters of the food eaten is served on plates, in bowls or glasses. Wansink Experiments have shown that due to the low wide glasses people drink 25-30 percent more than high and narrow, and eat a bowl of liter of 31 percent more than in half-liter.

The amount of food eaten - just one of the factors. Another - the number of calories. A standard serving of fast food, consisting of a large hamburger, a large portion of fries and a glass of fizzy drink contains about 1500 kcal. And Craig Bradley Wilcox estimated that Okinawa food contains calories, on average five times less. In other words, a burger and chips and a plate full of Okinawan fried tofu with green peas have the same volume, but Okinawa food is five times less calories.

Plants - our all

Most of the inhabitants of Nicoya, Sardinia and Okinawa have never tried the products, Processed, sugary sodas or pickled snacks. Most of the life they lived on small portions of unprocessed food. They gave up meat, more precisely, they have simply not had the opportunity to eat them, except in rare cases. Traditionally, the inhabitants of these places feed that is grown in their own garden, complementing the main products: durum wheat, "durum" (Sardinia), sweet potato (Okinawa) and maize (Nicoya). Especially successive Adventists generally completely abandon meat.

The researchers analyzed six different studies, which were attended by thousands of vegetarians, and found that those who reduced meat consumption to a minimum, live longer. Some people worry that plant foods do not provide enough protein and iron. But the thing is, says Dr. Leslie Little, that people over 19 years old only need 0, 8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, t. E. An average of 50-80 grams of protein daily.

The basis of all crops supply, contributing to longevity, make legumes, grains and vegetables. "Semolina" Sardinian shepherds take with them to the pasture of the bread flour varieties. The inhabitants of Nicoya, no meal is complete without tortillas. But whole grains are an essential component of the diet of Adventists. These products - a source of fiber, antioxidants, anti-cancer agents (insoluble fiber), substances that reduce cholesterol and prevent blood clots, as well as all the necessary minerals. Legumes - an integral part of the kitchen of the "blue zones". A diet rich in legumes, helps to reduce the frequency of heart attacks and the likelihood of developing colon cancer. The beans contain flavonoids and fiber (reducing the risk of heart attacks); is a great source of protein.

Tofu (soya bean curd), a mandatory product in the Okinawan diet is often compared with bread or French fries in Eastern Europe. However, at the same bread or potatoes can not live, and tofu is almost an ideal product: it is low in calories, protein and many minerals, no cholesterol, but contains all the amino acids needed by the human body. In addition, it is ecologically harmless. An excellent source of protein without the harmful side effects of meat, tofu contains phytoestrogens, which have a beneficial effect on the heart in women. In addition, phytoestrogens significantly reduce cholesterol levels and contribute to the strengthening of the blood vessels.

All this does not indicate that the centenarians never eat meat. Feast in Sardinia necessarily include meat dishes. Okinawans slaughtered pig on the Lunar New Year. The inhabitants of Nicoya and fatten a pig. However, the meat is eaten infrequently: only a few times a month. Most of the fears associated with the red and technologically processed meat, such as ham. Dr. Robert Kane and Robert Butler claimed that when planning the diet is very important to correctly distribute the calories between complex carbohydrates, fats and proteins, reducing to a minimum trans fats, saturated fats and salt.

Eat more nuts

Nuts - most probably a striking element of all the "longevity food." According to the study, the object of which were Seventh Day Adventists, those who ate nuts at least five times a week, two times less likely to suffer from heart disease than those who consumed nuts less frequently. by FDA Office of Food and Drug Administration including nuts in the first declaration of health. In 2003, the Office issued a "Declaration of Health", which stated: "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that everyday intake of 42 grams of nuts are low in saturated fat and cholesterol can prevent the risk of heart disease»

. Studies have shown that nuts protect the heart by lowering blood cholesterol levels. During a large-scale population study conducted by the School of Medicine at Harvard University, found that people who ate nuts less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease compared to those who use them rarely or never eat. Adventist Health Study (AHS) showed that people who consumed 56 g for nuts five times a week, live an average of two years longer than those who do not eat nuts.

One explanation suggests that the nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats and soluble fiber, which reduce LDL cholesterol, he said. They are also a good source of vitamin E and other substances that are useful for the heart. The best are almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts and pine nuts. Brazil nuts, cashews and macadamia nuts contain little more saturated fat and less desirable. Nevertheless, all nuts are useful.

Glass of red wine a day will not hurt

According to the results of epidemiological studies it can be assumed that a glass of beer, wine or other strong drink a day brings some health benefits. However, the secrets of the "blue zones" indicate that the decisive factors are the consistency and moderation. In Okinawa, a daily cup of sake with friends. In Sardinia - glass of red wine with each meal and at every meeting with friends

. A glass or two of wine a day reduces the risk of heart disease, but excessive consumption of spirits increases the risk of breast cancer. Spirits actually relieves stress and reduces the harmful effects of chronic inflammation. Moreover, a glass of wine to complement the meal, allows you to eat less.

Additional benefits of red wine can be attributed to his property to clear the artery because it contained polyphenols that fight atherosclerosis. Choose Sardinian "Cannonau" For additional antioxidant effect. At the same time we should not forget about the toxic effects of spirits in the liver, brain and other internal organs, if you exceed the daily servings. In this case, the risk of abuse far outweigh any useful property. A friend recently asked if you can avoid the whole week, and on Saturday night to have a drink right away fourteen glasses. The answer - no

. Religion helps to live longer

Healthy centenarians have faith. Sardinians and nikoytsy - mostly Catholics. Okinawans belong to a mixed religion that honors ancestors. Centenarians Loma Linda - Seventh Day Adventists. They all belong to a particular religious community. Faith in God - one of the good habits that increase the chances of a long healthy life. Religious affiliation does not matter: you can be a Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jew or Hindu

. Studies show that a visit to the church services - even if it is once a month - a positive effect on life expectancy. The subject of a recent study published in the Journal of Heath and Social Behavior, 3617 became a man. The study lasted for seven years and found that the people who attended the service at least once a month, the risk of death was reduced by about a third. Parishioners have a greater life expectancy, which faith has the same effect as moderate physical activity.

In the Adventist Health study similar results were obtained. In it for 12 years took part 34 thousand people. It turned out that those who attend church frequently, the risk of death at any age is reduced by 20 percent. People do not forget about the spiritual aspect, less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, depression, stress, rarely commit suicide, and their immune system is functioning much better.

Belonging to a religious community contributes to the establishment of extensive social ties. People attending church, different self-esteem and a higher sense of self-esteem, because religion stimulates positive expectations, which in turn improves health. When the behavior is exactly meets their roles, their self-esteem increases. To a certain extent accessory to this or that religion will eliminate the stress of everyday life, passing their higher power. They follow clearly defined rules of behavior and gain peace of mind due to this, knowing that they live "right." If today all is well, then, you deserve it. If bad, it does not depend on you.

Family comes first

The most long-lived people we met in the "blue zones", always put family first. Their whole life was built around marriage and children, family obligations, rituals and spiritual closeness. Especially it concerns the approval of Sardinia, where people still passionately devoted to the family and family values. Once I asked the owner of the vineyard, did not it would be easier to send his feeble mother in a nursing home. He angrily pointed a finger at me: "I even think about this I can not. It's a shame for my family. »

Tonino Tola, a Sardinian shepherd who loved work, but confessed. "All I do is for my family" On the Nicoya Peninsula all family members live nearby. So, all the 99 inhabitants of a village were the descendants of a single 85-year-old man. They are still going on in the family dining restaurant, and his grandfather and grandchildren came to visit on a daily basis, to help with cleaning, or simply play with him at checkers.

Devotion to the family of the people of Okinawa is beyond earthly life. Okinawans over seventy start their day with the glorification of the memory of their ancestors. There are tables graves often to family members to organize a Sunday meal with deceased relatives.


How this contributes to longevity? By the time the long-lived 100 years, and their attachment to the family is paying off: the children respond with gratitude for the love and care. They constantly come to visit their parents, and in three of the four "blue zones" the younger generation is happy to be at the senior. Исследования показывают, что пожилые люди, живущие с детьми, меньше подвержены заболеваниям и стрессу, питаются более здоровой пищей, с ними реже происходят серьезные несчастные случаи. Исследование здорового старения Макартура, в котором за семь лет приняло участие 1189 человек в возрасте от 70 до 79 лет, доказало, что люди, живущие рядом с детьми, отличаются более ясным умом и лучшими социальными навыками.

«Семья — высшая ступень в социальной иерархии, — говорит доктор Батлер. — Родители дают вам ощущение реальности, приучают к здоровому образу жизни, помогают обрести цель, а в случае болезни или возникновения проблем поддержка семьи становится чрезвычайно важной». Мы практически всю жизнь делаем какие-то вложения, говорит он. Вот вы делаете вложения, когда ходите в школу и получаете образование в определенной сфере. Потом вы вкладываете в детей, когда они юны, а затем они вкладывают в вас, когда вы состаритесь. Отдача? Пожилые люди, живущие в семье, дольше сохраняют здравый рассудок по сравнению с теми, кто живет один или в доме престарелых.

В Америке наблюдается противоположная тенденция. Во многих семьях, где есть работающие родители и загруженные дети, совместное времяпрепровождение становится редкостью, поскольку все заняты своими делами. Совместные трапезы и отдых исчезают из нашей жизни, становятся редкостью.

Как же противодействовать этой тенденции? Гейл Хартманн, дипломированный психолог, считает, что выход будет найден тогда, когда все поколения семьи пожелают проводить время вместе. «В крепких семьях заведено хотя бы раз в день есть за общим столом, отправляться на совместный отдых и вместе проводить время. Не нужно прекращать привычную жизнь. Дети могут готовить домашнее задание, а родители — обед, однако такую семью будут отличать прочные узы и ощущение единства».


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