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Blue Zone: 6 Traits of People Who Live Longer

6 Traits of People Who Live Longer with Less Disease

There are 5 regions in the world where people live longer, disease free lives. The demographic work of Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain identified these regions and found the 6 common characteristics that tie them together. (See more about Blue Zones). These 5 regions include: 
Okinawa, Japan
Sardinia, Italy
Loma Linda, California (7th Day Adventists)
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Icaria, Greece


1. Family

In these regions, the family unit was placed ahead of other life concerns. Families were tightly knit and stayed close by, rather than families being scattered across the country, like many families are today. 

2. Less Smoking

These regions had notably fewer smokers amongst the population. 

3. Semi-Vegetarianism

With the exception of the Sardinian diet, most food was plant based. These cultures are not strictly vegetarian, however, meat is not a staple of the diet. The diet is primarily plant based with meat and fish being exceptions to the norm. 

4. Social Engagement

Different generations of people are all socially active with one another. It is common amongst these cultures to see the elderly out and about, actively participating in social gatherings, rather than being tucked away at home or in a facility. Regular interaction with others is an important component of maintaining mental and physical well being. 

5. Constant Moderate Physical Activity

People in these places simply move. In the US, we love our sports. Many engage in highly demanding sports or work out routines and many of us equate exercise with arduous, high intensity work outs like running, crossfit, weight lifting, etc. It's actually typical in the US for a person to dedicate an hour to strenuous exercise and then spend the next 10 hours sitting, either in a car or at a desk. It's as if we're compensating for being sedentary by packing a days worth of movement into short spurts. 

For a lot of people, this is a function of having a demanding schedule. However, if we look at the blue zone model, it seems as if people who incorporate steady movement throughout the day, rather than just small, condensed sessions, have a longer life span. 

What can you do if your schedule doesn't allow constant movement? Work it into your day; make excuses to get up from your desk and walk around. Take the stairs, walk or bike to places when possible.

6. Legumes

Legumes are a class of vegetable that include beans, lentils and peas. They contain low cholesterol and are high in folate, potassium, magnesium, and iron. They are an excellent source for protein and can often substitute for meat. Legumes include: edamame, lentils, black eyed peas, red beans, lima beans, kidney beans, fava beans, garbanzo beans, etc. Click here for more on legumes. 

For further reading and to see National Geographic's video work on this subject, please visit:

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