Blue Zones

Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Icaria (Greece), Loma Linda (United States) and Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica) all have something in common. They are parts of our world where its citizens live to be 100 years.  A book authored by Dan Buettner called The Blue Zones Solutions takes a detailed peek at what sets these disparate areas of the world apart from the rest of usIt is hard to distil its contents but here is an attempt.

  • Eat well
  • Stress less
  • move more
  • love more

Sounds pretty straightforward doesn’t it?

How does it translate into our own lives. Break your fast like a king, don’t eat until you are full, occasionally miss a meal, eat with friends and family, eat mostly plants, retreat from meat, slash sugars, snack only on nuts and berries. Oh, and plenty of beans (not of the H—z variety!).  We are talking longevity foods here.  I slightly part company over the don’t eat fat message – we definitely need it, but not in abundance.  I would also suggest extending the no-go areas to processed foods and especially refined carbohydrates if you are heading in the Diabetes direction.  Which most of us are.

Anyway, to get back to the point. What else can we do?

The most important message is that we have to change our local culture. One group at a time, one village at a time, one town at a time…   Setting up communal groups, especially among 5 or 6 friends, for walks, bike rides, regular get-togethers will point in the right direction. Then nag folk to stop smoking and cut out sugary stuff.  Engage local stores and eateries. Lobby food producers. Leave simple health messages. Why not start a community make-over and organise a pilot project in your locality by drawing in willing businesses, restaurants, schools and homes?

Dan Buettner’s work seems to point to targeting the environment in which we live rather than individual behaviours – but why can we not do both by setting our own examples  – one home at a time?  Prof Gary Egger in Australia  talks of our causative ‘obesogenic’ environment while David Katz in the US talks of the wider issues of healthier lifestyles leading to a healthier planetary environment for our children.  We can do it! 

Even if, as a not-so-famous (yet) Urosurgeon Mr Laurence Stewart has imparted, Hippocrates is the father of Medicine – but what on earth have his children done to it? I paraphrase but the sentiment is accurate. The determinants of our ill-health are man-made – so they can be man-unmade!

So let’s get to it!


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