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Tips From the Longest Living People - Part 2

You read in the first article about the common factor among the longest living people in the world, according to extensive research done by author Dan Buettner. Here are what he describes as "Blue Zones" -- the five areas with the highest concentration of people who live to be 100 years old - and do so free of chronic disease.

Here are the Blue Zones (country and town/city):

  1. Italy: Sardinia

  2. Greece: Ikaria

  3. Japan: Okinawan Islands

  4. Costa Rica: Nicoya Peninsula

  5. California: Loma Linda

My articles focus on the diet aspect of these people, though be assured there were many healthy lifestyle habits of each group that contributed to their long life span. Instead of getting into the specific diet of each community (which the author does in his book "The Blue Zones Solution"), I"ll list the most common foods in their diets that Buettner observed to be optimal for health and that contribute to a long, disease-free life. Below some of the foods is what Buettner calls "Don't Bother" foods.

(As stated in previous article) Fresh, locally sourced, natural, seasonal fruits and vegetables

DON'T BOTHER: produce that is out of season or not fresh (like canned produce)

Legumes, every day. Lentils and beans of all kinds (even canned), peas that come in shell, and sprouted legumes

DON'T BOTHER: shelled peas

Mushrooms, especially wild. Fresh, dried or freeze dried chantarelle, enoke, maitake, oyster, porcini and shiitake.

All herbs and spices. Notably garlic, ginger, turmeric. Whole spices.

DON'T BOTHER: ground spices lose their potency over time. Grind whole spices before use.

Nuts and seeds by the handful. Notably sprouted nuts and seeds.

Amaranth, barley, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, spelt, and any whole grain that is sprouted or fermented.

DON'T BOTHER: refined grains and flours

Berries, especially wild berries. Bitter melon, red banana, mangoes, pomegranate. Superfood berry powders and purees such as acai, goji and macqui berries.

DON'T BOTHER: cantaloupe and honeydew are least nutritious

Olive Oil - three to four tbsp per day of unfiltered, extra virgin, first cold pressed olive oil.

DON'T BOTHER: most vegetable oils

Wild and grass fed animal products in small portions. Examples: bone broth, naturally fermented dairy like whole milk yogurt, goat and sheep's milk cheese, fresh eggs.

DON'T BOTHER: conventional meat and dairy

Sustainable seafood in small amounts. Examples: fresh, frozen or canned wild-caught anchovy, herring, mackerel, mussels, oyster, salmon, sardines, and trout.

DON'T BOTHER: farmed fish, large fish such as tuna and swordfish

Daily drinks: water, tea, herbal tea, coffee in moderation, red wine in moderation

DON'T BOTHER: fruit juice, soda, treated water

Sweets: Dark chocolate, dates, honey in moderation, superfood sweeteners such as stevia, lucuma, mesquite and sacha inchi.

So there you have it. Nothing new, right? But Buettner's book also mentioned how these people ate. Here are the common factors in eating that Buettner found:

  • They eat with other people. Dining was communal and celebratory.

  • They eat consciously. They do not eat while driving, watching tv, or doing other work.

  • They eat home cooked food. These communities rarely eat meals not cooked by themselves, family or friends.

  • They eat small portions and do not eat until "stuffed".

  • They eat early in the day.

  • Moderation is key. Moderation for these people means once or twice per week, not once or twice per day.

That last point is especially critical. Moderation. I have a friend who is on a special diet to lose weight that states "limit dessert to only one per day". What?? A dessert every day for losing weight?? My friend says this is not easy for her and that she is trying to be more moderate with her food intake. When asked what she was eating prior to the diet, she said one dessert per meal. Our society's idea of moderation is one that appeals to people's weak levels of self discipline. It's easy for an author to become popular with a diet that lets people have one dessert per day. But if you look at seriously health conscious people, like the centenarians, their idea of moderation is totally different. One dessert per week. And even that is better to be missed.

I hope you learned something from the Blue Zones people. Even if you take just one's certainly worth a few extra years of life.

To your best health and long life!

Hari Om!

Amita Jain

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