The Blue Zones

Today is the start of my second week studying online with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I've decided that, in order to cement my learning, as well as to share my learnings, I should write blog posts daily to summarise what I've learned.


In module 3 we learned about

  • national food guidelines

  • why diets fail

  • the Blue Zones

  • the importance of career in a holistically healthy life


I'm going to be sharing about the topic I found the most interesting and inspiring which was the Blue Zones.



image source: Unsplash

What are the Blue Zones?


Blue Zones are small communities around the world with the highest population of centenarians (people who live to a hundred) or with a relatively higher population of people with longer life expectancies. Not only do these people live longer, but they also experience fewer years of morbidity (years in which your health is completely deteriorated).


Some of the Blue Zones are:

  • Sardinia, Italy

  • Okinawa, Japan

  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica


Why are Blue Zones so healthy?


At IIN we learn that holistic health is far more about what happens off the plate than what's on the plate. What we eat is referred to as 'secondary foods' vs the important areas of our lives that contribute to health and happiness, which are referred to as primary foods.


Blue Zones are characterised by:


Mainly Mediterranean diet


Predominantly plant-based, with meat consumed mainly at special occasions.Plenty legumes, healthy grains, omega-3 fatty acid rich foods, healthy fats and moderate dairy consumption).


Strong community


In Blue Zones, socialising with loved ones and friends is an ordinary part of daily life. The elderly are taken care of by their families, rather than being sent to old age homes. Love and connection are an integral part of daily life.


Daily movement


Environments in Blue Zones make it easy to be active, mainly through walking as part of life's daily activities. Exercise is not a concerted effort as most of us have come to know it.


Faith


Belonging to a faith-based community, in which one participates at least four times a month, is also an important characteristic of Blue Zones. Regular spiritual practices, prayer and or meditation, help Blue Zone inhabitants to cope with the daily stressors of life.


Connecting with nature


A particular Seventh Day Adventist community, one of the Blue Zones, engages in weekly outdoor nature activities. Regular connection with nature is also a important contributor to holistic wellbeing.


Purpose


This a sense of purpose for waking up in the morning. The central force that underlies all meaning and activity in your life.


What can we learn from the Blue Zones?


I think that we can all learn that health is holistic; it's about much more than what we eat. The quality of our lives is equally, if not more, important.


Quality relationships, fulfilment, community and regular exercise are some of the things that we can choose to improve in our lives. I think we can learn that health isn't a state to be achieved, but an intention we can set for every area in our lives. It encourages us to make routine small improvements in our individual circle of life. Maybe by starting with the difficult conversation we've been avoiding initiating with a loved one. Or taking a 10 minute walk after lunch each day.


Which of the above-mentioned areas can you choose to improve in your life?


I hope that you can see that health is in your hands. You have the power to make changes that will have long-lasting impact.


Did you like this post? Did you learn something that you're going to be applying in your life? Leave me a comment below, or reach out to me on Instagram.


Lots of love



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