People often ask us about our diet, I tell them it’s not so much a diet but rather a lifestyle. I call it “Kuanos”, the Greek word for blue. There are places on earth called Blue Zones. Researchers have identified these places as having the highest concentrations of people living over 100. They rarely get sick and they seem like genuinely happy people. There are 5 regions on our planet considered Blue Zones.
- Ikaria, Greece
- Nicoya, Costa Rica
- Sardinia, Italy
- Okinawa, Japan
- Loma Linda, California
Although I don’t live in a Blue Zone at the moment, it still remains my goal. In the meantime I try to emulate what so many before us have already done for centuries. It’s actually quite simple, just eat the way we were intended to eat. Today most people no longer eat real food. They eat food-like products that come nicely packaged in a cardboard box. Not only do these types of “food”contain very little nutritional value, they also contain terrible chemicals, dyes and preservatives. I grew up in an Italian household and usually ate relatively healthy. It was still impossible to get away from all the hidden junk in our food. One day I decided to change my family’s eating habits and follow the same path as the Blue Zoners.
So, why do they live to 100? Why do they rarely get sick? Why do they all seem happy? I’d like to focus on Ikaria and Sardinia because those are the closest places that align with our lifestyle. There are a few things at play here, I’ll try to explain……For one, they never really sit still for too long. Life is in motion, weather it’s tending to the garden or running after the great grandkids, people are always moving. Like an old car you may have sitting in your garage for years, you can’t expect it to perform better than one that’s fine tuned and always on the go.
They also have a social circle that reinforces healthy behavior. Few veer from the cuisine that has been a staple in the community for centuries. The diet consists mainly of local organic vegetables, legumes and wild herbs. Fresh fish comes in daily from the local waters. Home made olive oil and wine are also consumed on a daily basis. Dairy consists of locally produced unpasteurized goat cheese. For those with a sweet tooth, dark chocolate or honey makes the perfect snack. Meat is only reserved for a special occasion. You may see a lamb roast for a wedding or milestone.
With all there is to do on the homestead they still take time to unwind and let their hair down. There is usually always a festival in the evening with song, dance and plenty of home made wine. Traditional musical instruments are played as the entire community dances to stories about their ancestors. This includes everyone. You can see toddlers, teenagers and elders all interacting. Generations of family always together. I believe this interaction is one of the key ingredients of longevity.
One of the things I noticed of the two European islands is that the people have a sense of freedom and disconnect from the government. Yes, they are part of a political system that invades every nook and cranny of our lives, but not to the extent of the mainland. They tend to keep things simple and local. They really don’t need much from the outside. If the state were to implode, their life would hardly change. If anything, it would probably improve.
Unfortunately most of us are stuck in a mindset that moving to a Blue Zone is an impossibility. Even though it is very possible, there may be other factors in your life at play. You may be afraid to quit your job or move to a strange land. Some just can’t deal with the unknown. Regardless of all this, there is no reason you can’t change your lifestyle here at home to emulate a Blue Zone that works for you. It works for us.