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12.04.2016
An interesting book to read, now almost a classic, is called “The Blue Zones” which researched areas of the world that have an unusual concentration of centenarians (people reaching the age of 100).
I first became aware of this research when I was living in Costa Rica and a group of researchers came to the Nicoya Peninsula to discover that this area of the world was one of those coveted “Blue Zones” where there’s a very high percentage of centenarians compared to the United States. What I really liked about the book was the fact that it was based on actual, verifiable research.
In the past, many people have claimed that certain cultures have lived a very long time, such as the Hunzas in Pakistan or the Vilcabamba residents in Ecuador. With The Blue Zones, the researchers had new scientific techniques that could verify someone’s age, and using DNA data they could also trace back the ancestry of the people they met. A lot of people who are proponents of specific diets, such as the paleo diet, like to refer to some unproven, anecdotal advice on the “good health” of certain tribes, such as the Inuits. The Blue Zones is the first set of data that looks at populations that have an unusually high number of centenarians. Before I go into the characteristics of these people, I want to point out one important point for all those people out there on low-carb, paleo, meat-eating, “hunter-gatherer” diets (or whatever you want to call them). All of the longest live people in the world — without exception — live on a high-carb, plant-based diet!
You will not find anywhere in the world a group of people — with documented evidence — living that long and that well on a high-fat, high protein, animal-based, low carb diet. Also, the research done on the 7th Day Adventists debunks the myth that there are no long-lived populations on a vegan diet (more on that later).
From the book: “Shepherds and peasants in Sardinia have an exceptionally simple diet, which is extraordinarily lean even by mediterranean standards”, a 1941 survey reported. It doesn’t take much nutritional knowledge to see that the diet described above is plant-based and very low in fat, and high in carbohydrates. The typical diet of these Okinawan centenarian was again very simple: vegetables from the garden, green tea, and maybe a little fish, with some rice and tofu.
They also have the interesting habit of saying hara hachi bu, before each meal. It’s a Confucian adage that these elders say before they eat to remind them to eat until they are 80 percent full. For those who think there are no documented populations of vegans in the world who live a long life, they are wrong. An interesting fact of the Nicoyan diet is that Nicoya have the lowest stomach cancer rate out of the country of Costa Rica. If you want the full story, you can read the book, but let me outline a few important points about diet that stood out for me. All long-lived people had periods in their life when a lot less food was available and they had to survive on a very sparse, limited diet. An Active Life — Another stunning realization is that all of the long-lived people in the book loved to work.
Family — This is a tough one for many of us, but it seems pretty obvious that in order to live a long life you can’t go it alone. The big question everybody will ask is obviously this one: how come none of the long-lived people on the planet eat a raw-food diet?
You have to keep in mind that except for the 7th Day Adventists, none of these long-lived people actually consciously chose their diet and lifestyle. But the 7th Day Adventist study showed that when a group of people consciously decides to improve their diet as a whole, that they can significantly increase their lifespan and the quality of their lives.
The 7th Day Adventists who ate a vegetarian diets lived longer than those who still ate meat, and those who were vegans lived even longer. We actually don’t know what would happen if a population of people ate a raw food diet because it’s never been done and documented before. So if you wanted to try a raw-food diet for longevity, it would have to at least meet those requirements. Which means potentially the best diet in the world would be a diet of fruits and vegetables, with some nuts and seeds, where most of the calories come from fruit.
Yes so much easier to eat simple and high carb… so gluten free bread would be ok and gluten free pasta.
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A distinct version of the Mediterranean diet is followed on the Blue Zone island of Ikaria, Greece.
Okinawans have long told their children to eat something from the land and something from the sea every day.
Author and National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner sniffs ginger's golden cousin, turmeric, which figures prominently in the Okinawa diet as both a spice and a tea.


Cannonau wine is the antioxidant-rich garnet red wine made from the sun-stressed Grenache grape in Sardina, Italy. The sharp pecorino cheese made from the milk of grass-fed sheep in Sardinia, has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. If you are looking for tips, ideas and recipes to increase your energy, then you are in the right place!
The problem is that the record keeping in those areas was very poor and there was no way to verify the ages of the alleged centenarians. Combined with verifiable birth certificates, they have located five areas of the world where people have managed to outlive Americans by often a decade or more. When in fact there are many other people who lived far longer and healthier than this example. Often these areas have been overtaken by fast food and the health of new generations is poor.
But last year the group of researchers also uncovered another Blue Zone, on the island of Ikaria in Greece, where nearly 1 out of every 3 people make it to their 90s (Which is very unusual).
They ate more animal foods than other long-lived populations, but also ate the most fruit out of all long-lived populations. But the 7th Day Adventist study also showed that vegans live longer than vegetarians or meat eaters, so the ideal is to avoid all animal products. For example, the centenarians in the book in Okinawa describe a time during World War II when they lived on sweet potatoes for three meals a day.
The 7th Day Adventists who ate a small serving of nuts several times a week had about half the risk of heart disease of those who didn’t. If you analyze all these diets from long-lived people around the world, they essentially eat the same simple foods every day. The biggest insight in the book besides the diet points I have outlined is how much long-lived people exercise.
In fact, some of them could be considered to have been “workaholics” in the prime of their life, and many of them never actually “retired”. All centenarians had big families that they supported and who supported them until the end. But as we get older, we must progressively reduce the amount of food we eat if we want to live a long life. It was something that evolved naturally and that they did due to the environment of where they lived. They just were part of a religious group that had the particular feature of discouraging bad habits such as eating meat or drinking caffeine.
I have read the book, and I summarized it for myself (as I do all the books I read – so I can remember them later), but this summary is way better than mine. After follow a low-fat, high carb raw vegan diet for 3 years now I can say I’m in far better health at 42 than I was at 18. Vegan is also the only way to take good care of the planet!There are many factors to good health-because of the breakdown of the family-the basis of society many suffer from disconnectedness which is a huge factor in health. Does calorie restriction only make them live longer because they are consuming less cooked food with salt and oil? It emphasizes olive oil, vegetables, beans, fruit, moderate amounts of alcohol and low quantities of meat and dairy products. Seventh-day Adventists follow a diet that emphasizes nuts, fruits and legumes and is low in sugar, salt and refined grains. They're made fresh daily with corn soaked in lime and water (calcium hydroxide), which infuses the grain with 7.5 times more calcium and unlocks certain amino acids otherwise unavailable in the corn.
The Blue Zones research shows that adherents of the Adventist diet, which is mostly plant-based, have lowest rates of heart disease and diabetes in the U.S.
It's tempting to think that with enough omega-3s, kale and blueberries, you could eat your way there.
But those people that managed to live 100 years or more are from a different era, and have kept the same lifestyle practices that they had in their youth. Peasants leave early in the morning to the fields with a kilogram of bread in their saddlebag… At noon their meal consists only of bread, with some cheese among wealthier families, while the majority of the workers are satisfied with an onion, a little fennel, or a bunch of radishes.
Like the people in most other Blue Zones, Nicoyans ate the emblematic low-calorie, low-fat, plant-based diet, rich in legumes. The conclusion by the researchers was that the high amount of fruit consumed in Nicoya helped prevent stomach cancer.
If you do eat animal products, it shouldn’t be more than a few times a month (paleo eaters take note).


When discussing the centenarians in Italy: “When their family was young, in the 1950s, they were very poor.
It actually shocked me to realize that I’m not getting nearly as much exercise as I should.It seems that in the prime of their lives, these centenarians were probably getting something like 5 or 6 hours of moderate exercise per day (such as walking and working outdoors). They maintained an active lifestyle throughout their life.This blows out the concept that working hard is bad for you, or that staying home doing nothing is the best way to relax, or that the goal in life should be to save enough to retire at age 55 or 60 and then enjoy the good life.
However, from reading between the lines, I also understood that these centenarians progressively reduced the quantities of food they ate as they got older. Would a low calorie raw vegan diet be more or less beneficial than a high calorie raw vegan diet? But one of the key takeaways from a new book on how to eat and live like "the world's healthiest people" is that longevity is not just about food.
At dinner, the reunited family eats a single meal consisting of a vegetable soup (minestrone) to which the richest add some pasta. But the vegetarians lived longer than the meat eaters (on average two years longer), and the vegans lived even longer than the vegetarians. But unlike other Blue Zones, the Nicoyan diet featured portions of corn tortillas at almost every meal and huge quantities of tropical fruit. They ate what they produced on their land — mostly bread, cheese and vegetables (zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and most significantly, fava beans). And as they get older, they keep on walking and being active.Thus, the concept of exercising a few times a week to stay in shape seems seriously flawed. If I need 2000 calories a day should I get a little more, a little less, or just that amount to live the longest? The people who live in the Blue Zones — five regions in Europe, Latin America, Asia and the U.S. Meat was at best a weekly affair, boiled on Sunday with pasta and roasted during the festivals.” This reinforces my concept of periodic fasting.
Also, rich foods like meat and cheese are reserved for special occasions, and eaten at the most a few times a month if at all.
I would not say that she was a person of good health throughout her life, with many extended bouts of TB, congestive heart failure, silver hair since she was 30, and legally blind for the last 30 of her life.
Because we live in a society of such abundance, we have to force ourselves to go through periods of restrictions with periodic cleanses and fasting.
Nor would I say that she had a great diet, although she and my grandpa did enjoy veggies and fruits from their garden up until their mid-eighties.
Her endurance, from what I witnessed, was as much or more a testament to her mental and emotional outlook than the food she ingested. And that's why Dan Buettner, a National Geographic explorer and author who struck out on a quest in 2000 to find the lifestyle secrets to longevity, has written a follow up to his original book on the subject. The new book, called The Blue Zones Solution, is aimed at Americans, and is mostly about eating.
Why should we pay attention to what the people in the relatively isolated Blue Zone communities eat? Because, as Buettner writes, their more traditional diets harken back to an era before we Americans were inundated with greasy fast food and sugar.
And to qualify as a Blue Zone, these communities also have to be largely free of afflictions like heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes. You can get the backstory in this excerpt of the original book, which was published in 2008.
But in a nutshell, Buettner in 2004 rounded up a bunch of anthropologists, demographers, epidemiologists and other researchers to travel around the world to study communities with surprisingly high percentages of centenarians. He and the scientists interviewed hundreds of people who'd made it to age 100 about how they lived, then did a lot of number crunching to figure out what they had in common. A year after that book was published, the team announced they'd narrowed it down to five places that met all their criteria. In the new book, which was released April 7, Buettner distills the researchers' findings on what all the Blue Zones share when it comes to their diet.



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