Is there a fountain of youth? Or a secret to looking and feeling younger? Is there something that can help you live a longer and more meaningful life? There is, and it’s called the blue zones project. These blue zones are longevity hotspots around the world—places where people live longer, healthier lives.
There are studies, books, and an entire teaching series based upon just this idea. If you could change up some of the things that you do, it may help to increase your longevity. It may help to increase the quality of your life and ensure that you actually live longer in the process. It’s not too good to be true, and it has actually been proven in a variety of ways. That’s what the blue zones project is all about.
This may sound like some sort of gimmick, but it isn’t. It all has to do with the way you take care of yourself. It has to do with your mindset and the way you view the world. Though some of these things may seem trivial or unimportant, they all matter greatly in this capacity. Everything that you do helps to prepare you for the golden years, and so you must be mindful of this now and into the future as well.
The key to living longer lies in some very simple but highly effective concepts. These are all a part of the blue zones project, and they matter significantly. It’s imperative if you want to enjoy a longer life that you understand what these blue zones are all about. Within them lies the secret to enjoying life as you age. It may not be as difficult or challenging as you think, either.
Where shall we start...
- 1. What is the Blue Zones Project?
- 2. Where are the Blue Zones?
- 3. Fight Chronic Disease with the Blue Zones Diet
- 4. Live Longer with the Blue Zones Mindset
- 5. The Importance of Community in the Blue Zones
- 6. What Do We Do with Blue Zones Project Information?
- 7. Tips for Learning Valuable Life Lessons from The Blue Zones
- 8. Conclusion
What is the Blue Zones Project?
The secret to youth and a longer, more enjoyable life is through what is referred to as the blue zones project. Blue zones are areas in the world that happen to have high concentrations of people who live to be 100 years old. It’s not that they just live to be to this age, but that they are in good health at that point in their life as well. This research and the resulting book really look long and hard at what allows these areas of the world to enjoy such good health well into their most delicate years. While most people may have health problems at this stage of their life, blue zones inhabitants do not, and they live longer and fuller lives because of it.
Five areas of the world are the subjects of the blue zones project. Understanding where they are may help to shed some light. They can be found all around the world, but they have specific strategies or similarities that allow them to have a high concentration of people that live to be this age. Again, it’s not just about having a high density of people who live to be this age, but rather those who live a healthy and full life to get to that point as well.
Where are the Blue Zones?
The five areas of the world considered to be part of the blue zones project include:
- Ikaria, Greece
- Okinawa, Japan
- The Ogliastra Region of Sardinia
- Loma Linda, California
- Nicoya, Costa Rica
These may sound like vastly different areas of the world, and they are in many ways. What they have in common, however, is their high concentration of those who live to be at least 100 years old. The specific strategies may vary, but the fact is that they are doing something right.
According to research, humans are born with a life expectancy of somewhere below 95 years old. The blue zones project is proof that humans can extend their lifespans beyond 95 by incorporating healthy habits and a blue zone diet.
They are doing something in these regions of the world that allow them to enjoy a healthy overall population and a longer, better quality of life. It’s important to look at all these strategies because they are things that you can be doing now to create a much more positive and healthy experience in your later years.
Fight Chronic Disease with the Blue Zones Diet
They say that you are what you eat, and this is so true. There is great power in the food you eat, and so you must make your diet a main focus if you wish to live a longer and healthier life. When you look at the blue zones project, the diet that these healthy people follow has much to do with longevity.
The foods you eat on the blue zones diet should provide nutrients and help protect you against illness. Some foods can even fight chronic disease. This means that you get rid of the processed and fatty foods that are full of salt, sugar, and preservatives. You instead want to focus on a few key elements which will help you to live well. Foods like blueberries, broccoli rabe, salmon, and goji berries are just a few of the top superfoods that help fight chronic disease.
Here are some common aspects of blue zone diets you should emulate in your own diet for maximum longevity and disease-fighting agents:
Eat a plant-based diet with lots of nuts
There isn’t a lot of meat consumption in the blue zones diet. It may be a vegan diet or one focused only on fish as the source of protein. It is a mostly plant-based diet with a strong emphasis on vegetables and fruits. You’ll find that people following the blue zones diet often snack on nuts which offer protein on their own. Living primarily from the land ensures that you don’t eat any processed foods and that you enjoy taking in nutrients in the best possible way.
You can start now by planting your own garden. If the weather isn’t garden-friendly in your area, you can plant herbs and veggies inside, livening up your window sills year-round.
Eat more beans
Along with this plant-based diet, you will also find that the blue zones diet consists of a lot of beans. People in the blue zones eat these for fiber, for protein, and for many meals as the substantial component. There is great power in beans, and they are versatile so you can enjoy them in many ways. They also happen to be loaded with the nutrients you need which help to contribute to your sustainability.
Beans are magical in that they are a superfood that will keep you feeling full for a long time. Some meals you can make with beans include chili, stew, and mixed bean salad. You can also use beans to create vegetarian meals like black bean burgers when following the blue zones diet.
Eat true superfoods
Some foods truly fall into the superfood category. Though this is a health trend that has evolved and changed over the years, some foods have a steady place on the list. Foods on this list include sweet potatoes, turmeric, and bitter melon and they are there for a reason. They all have powerful antioxidants which can work towards disease prevention. They help to regulate your blood sugar and provide key nutrients as well. Be sure that you include these true superfoods into your blue zones diet for the best results.
Create a culinary quest as you search for superfood ingredients and recipes! There are even recipes that use both bitter melon and beans in one dish. The blue zones diet can be fun and funky. Create weekly challenges for yourself in the kitchen. Try one or two new superfood recipes each week. You’ll not only fall in love with the food, but you’ll learn lots of new skills.
Fun fact: Did you know that the Chia seeds we’re obsessed with today are the same seeds that gained pop culture stardom in 1977? Chia Pets grow from the superfood seed we love to eat today!
Enjoy a bit of wine
In Sardinia, they drink quite a bit of cannonau wine because they recognize its nutritional importance. Though you might consider this an indulgence, it’s really more about the antioxidants that it provides. Red wine is great in this capacity, and even a glass per day does the trick. Though it is a specific type of wine in this region of the world, taking in the antioxidants from a glass of red wine will also provide you with real health benefits.
It’s okay if you don’t know much about wine. You don’t need to be a sommelier to reap the benefits of this blue zones diet perk. Find red wines that taste good, and practice pairing them with different foods. You’ll find loads of delicious new combinations.
You’ve heard the old saying, “food is fuel,” right? Of course you have! These blue zone project populations truly take that adage to heart.
The longevity diet is an essential part of why these areas of the world are identified as blue zones. They aren’t eating foods simply out of convenience, but rather for the nutrients and nourishment they provide. They are also very mindful of the food choices that they make and the portions they choose. Both choices have a considerable effect on longevity, and they can help give your body the correct fuel that it needs.
Live Longer with the Blue Zones Mindset
You might not realize it, but the way you think and how you view the world has great significance. When you look at those who live long healthy lives in the blue zones, they have a different sort of mindset. They aren’t angry or anxious, they aren’t negative, and they don’t get upset about all the little things. They learned at some point in their lives that creating a positive mindset would work much better for them. These people learned to create a blissful, joyful, and enjoyable life rather than the alternative.
So, how exactly does one create this sense of internal peace? How do you learn to let the little things roll off your back? How do you maintain a positive mindset when it feels like life is just too challenging at times?
It’s a choice, and you must make a concerted effort—those who live a long and balanced life recognize that. It’s not always easy to remain positive, but you have to keep at it. There are certain aspects of your life that you can control. These are the things that can pave the way to happiness, and so they play a vital role in all of this. Let’s look at what those who live within the blue zones project areas do to help prepare themselves for true and lasting happiness:
Know your purpose
The purpose you have in this life may change over time. The point is that you know that you have one and you put your all into it. Everyone is here for some grand reason, and therefore you should embrace that for all that it is. Recognize your worth and be confident and sure of what you are here to do. Make this your mission, and the people around you can really benefit because of what you bring to the world
Join a faith-based community
Having faith helps give you purpose. Not only that but having something positive and enlightening in your life helps you to remain centered and focused. So, when the bad times hit, you have a positive stimulus to turn to. You have something to ensure that you remain at an even keel. This reduces negative and angry thoughts. A positive community will help you to remain calm and happy, and to be at peace with yourself. Faith can really help to reaffirm what is important in life, and that can help you in your times of need.
Make a conscious choice to remain positive
It’s not always easy, but those who embrace this concept know that you must always make the choice to remain positive. No matter what may come your way, you find something positive. You seek the lesson and you find something better to focus on. You know that things will work out the way that they are intended to. Those who maintain a positive mindset get into a habit of making this choice. After a while, it’s a positive choice that gets made for you automatically. All that hard work choosing positivity does have a great payback!
The Importance of Community in the Blue Zones
You are as good as the people you surround yourself with. People are products of their environment, so to speak. If you create positive experiences, then you will be much more positively focused. Cultivate a strong support system around you. The blue zones project is built not only on the blue zones diet but on community as well.
Those who live in the blue zones recognize this concept of the “village” and they embrace it. You need to create the foundation for positivity, and that’s precisely what positive people and experiences do for you. So, how do you create this positive environment? There are a couple of helpful ways to create this groundwork in your life:
Honor your elders
This ties into the concept of having a village and it’s time to reintroduce this to everyone. Your elders hold a great deal of wisdom and knowledge. Give them a place in your home, in your family, and in your life. This helps to create a positive and nurturing environment, but it also helps you surround yourself with the right people. In turn, they get the recognition that they deserve. Think about spending some time volunteering at a nursing home or assisted living center.
Keep personal connections
Friends are vital to your well-being. You need to have at least three friends you can lean on in times of need. Surround yourself with positive connections and friendships. Going through hardships is always easier when someone helps carry the burden. Friends bring great value, and good friends are priceless. Choose the right people to surround yourself with and you’ll never feel alone. Meeting new friends doesn’t have to be a chore. Search for activities that interest you, and you will connect with people who share your hobbies. This is an excellent foundation for friendship.
What Do We Do with Blue Zones Project Information?
The blue zones project offers so much knowledge that we can all use. These are important life lessons that you can utilize in your own life. There’s a reason that people who live in these regions of the world have such long, healthy, and wonderful lives.
We can all learn from them and carry this information with us. You must make a conscious choice and then put in the work. However, if you are really interested in creating this life for yourself, then it will be well worth it.
Tips for Learning Valuable Life Lessons from The Blue Zones
- Meet new people. Search for meet-ups in faith-based organizations, volunteering opportunities, or connect through shared hobbies.
- Learn from the blue zones diet. Following the blue zones diet means enjoying more plants, fish, and nuts. Try new recipes to keep the culinary fire stoked.
- Choose positivity. Every thought we have is a force that only we can control. Try for one day (only 24 hours!) to only speak to yourself positively. Focus on how you feel after a day of encouraging affirmations. I promise you won’t want to stop.
- Finding your purpose can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Try new things and gain a new outlook on your life by traveling to new places. Try new activities like knitting or rock climbing. Do things that you are scared to try! Eventually, you will find a path and a purpose, and everything else will come naturally.
- Find opportunities to connect with people who are living their best “blue zones” lives. These older, wiser friends can teach us new things about ourselves and about our world.
There are so many positive things to learn from blue zones and the people who live within them. It’s no coincidence that the people who live there enjoy such long healthy lives. Take these lessons and learn to apply them to your own life. Looking at these regions of the world brings about much hope, for these are prime examples of what life can be.
To live a long, healthy, and balanced life you must make effective changes in the here and now. The blue zones project teaches us how. They show you what you can do to make your life much better now and well into the future.
Want to learn more about longevity diets like the blue zones diet? Check out this article.
-  Secrets of Longevity from Blue Zones: Beans, Wine, and Best Friends Today https://www.today.com/health/beans-wine-best-friends-secrets-longevity-blue-zones-t93486
-  “Lifespan and Healthspan: Past, Present, and Promise” NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4861644/
-  “What Are Superfoods” Dr. Axe. https://draxe.com/what-are-superfoods/
- Fun Fact: https://www.navitasorganics.com/blog/8-funny-facts-about-superfoods-youd-never-believe-were-true
Chandi Gilbert is a blogger and professional introvert. She has been a freelance writer since 2016, and her work has been featured on Contena, Wag, and Harness Magazine, among others. She is a member of the Freelancer’s Union and a Columbia College Alumni. She lives in Ohio with her husband and dogs who pull double duty as creative directors and heads of security. She writes blogs that help others feel better about themselves, and mentors beginner freelancers in their journeys.