Are Blue Zones The Answer?

There is a distinction between long life and peak performance. I personally don’t just intend to reach 100, I plan to remain active and vibrant, and to continue to age gracefully like good wine, despite all the health hardships I’ve endured.

There are plenty of people who already reach old age, however they’re also decrepit and diseased. Life expectancy has more than doubled in the past 100 years, and yet we’re sicker than ever.

I get frustrated when I hear family, friends, and customers normalize their aches, conditions, and rolls of fat. “Oh you know, I am just getting old.” No, that is just a program you have been led to believe.

A Long Life Is Possible!

Given all the information we’re amassing, living an active and healthy long life is possible! Mbah Ghoto, an Indonesian national just died at the age 146; one just has to look at our Blue Zones — demographic regions where people commonly live past the age of 100 years.

We know that aging involves oxidation, inflammation, the shortening of our telomeres and ultimately mitochondria dysfunction. We know that getting sick from a metabolomics point of view is when the speed of damage surpasses the speed of healing, and/or when we are not getting the proper nutrients.

You can employ tangible ways to address these cumulative factors by boosting life back into the mitochondria. Methods include oxygen or ozone, clean water, micro nutrients, a healthy gut biome, intermittent fasting, and caloric restriction.

And of course there is a significant link between diet and the aging processes.

With that said, I was momentarily stumped by some of the stories the elders have shared. I. For instance, the father of Blue Zones, Michel Poulin, told me about a 103-year-old woman in Sardinia who subsisted on potatoes. And then there was a 91-year-old who feasted on wheat his entire life, while Salvatore, a 93- year-old former farmer in Cagliari, who dressed up in a tie and slacks for our interview, casually mentioned drinking a liter of wine each day. Wheat, wine, and potatoes are not exactly what comes to mind when you speak of nutritiousness.

But do keep in mind that they are non-processed and grown locally, in rich soil (the earth’s microbiome) while the wheat of yesteryear wasn’t super hybridized or doused with Glyphosate.

Meanwhile, in different parts of the planet, humans have grown to metabolize what is available. Take Italians and pasta. I’d become a fatso real quick if I ate pasta every day. Whereas one person like me cannot metabolize carbs, another may not be able to metabolize fats or may need protein to thrive. Diet is highly personalized and needs to be calibrated to the tribe/individual level to actually help the body reach homeostasis.

I would rather not be so divisive and dogmatic when it comes to food and agree that modern agriculture is the problem.

Blue Zones For The Win

Blue Zones show us that factors such as strong social connections, family, and a sense of purpose. What the Japanese call “Ikigai” (a reason for being) cannot be overlooked; along with a little bit of Vitamin P (pleasure).

Culture plays a role too. One Blue Zone is located in Nicoya, Costa Rica. Our senior editor Thomas Ropp, who has lived in Costa Rica the past ten years, says it’s not unusual to see extremely elderly people walking effortlessly along the sides of the roads. Cars are not as prevalent as in the U.S., so people still use their legs.

Also, we’ve been led to believe that health and longevity is dependent on genetics. But advances in molecular biology prove we have more control then we’ve been programmed to believe. Epigenetics is a mechanism by which our environment communicates with our genes. Genes are not static, they are dynamic.

Stay tuned as I share useful guidelines and findings. Adopting healthy eating habits, proper mindset and lifestyle serves as the best insurance to lead a long life in health.

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Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, professional researcher, and producer of the award-winning documentary Vanishing of the Bees.

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