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Ready for a Blue Zone?


November 7, 2011

The Blue Zones is a concept, a notion introduced by former National Geographic writer Dan Buettner in his book of the same name. The Blue Zones are pockets of civilization where people reach the age of 100 ten times more frequently than they do in the U.S. and other parts of the industrialized world.

The people who live in the Blue Zones not only live longer, they also enjoy long, healthy lives, in which heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer are extremely rare. Buettner and his fellow researchers travelled to these communities and studied them extensively to see what, if anything, they might have in common.

The Blue Zones communities are in very diverse parts of the world: Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, CA (the head seat of the Seventh Day Adventists). Despite the wide differences in culture, however, Buettner found that the communities had many lifestyle features in common. They ate predominantly plant-based diets, high in whole grains and quality protein; they got regular exercise; they had low-stress day-to-day routines; they nurtured a strong sense of community; and so on.

You can find out how long you can expect to live with your current lifestyle habits, see the handy little Vitality Compass from the Blue Zones project at www.bluezones.com.
For this purpose, leaders in our small towns need to be more aware of the town's many bike and walking paths, and create events that encourage people to use them.
Nutrition expert Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, taught simple tricks for healthier eating. A dietary expert worked with grocery stores to label "longevity foods" and organized with schools to change their menus and the eating habits of students.

As part of the community make-over, the town also created community gardens and held workshops to educate people on eating healthy diets. Happily, these health-oriented events brought people together in community activities.
The George C. Grape Community Hospital has a Wellness Center with a variety of exercise equipment and weight training equipment that can be accessed daily by participants who pay a monthly membership fee. It is a great way to get out of the house during the winter months and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.

Source: The Blue Zone Wellness Project for Iowa How Can We Live Longer and Healthier Lives?
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