Showing posts with label blue zone tips for long life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blue zone tips for long life. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The American Blue Zone Lifestyle Could Help You Live a Longer, Happier Life

Around the world, there are five spots known as the Blue Zones, where people tend to live as much as ten years longer than they do in other nearby communities, with lower levels of both dementia and disability.  Those locations are:  the island of Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; the Ogliastra Region of Sardinia; the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California in the United States.  While many people in the U.S. accept the idea that people who reside in distant, exotic locations may live exceptionally long and healthy lives, they are often shocked to realize that a suburban community on the inland, polluted side of Los Angeles could produce people who live longer than typical Americans.  What are they doing?  How can there be a Blue Zone in an overcrowded community in California?

The Spiritual Connection

Loma Linda, California was founded by a group of Seventh-day Adventists in the 1840s.  They believe that maintaining good health is a central part of their religion.  In order to do this, many of the residents of the community follow an unusually healthy lifestyle, compared to other residents of the United States.  They typically abstain from alcohol and do not smoke.  They also set aside the Sabbath each week to spend time in worship, socialize with their family and friends, and enjoy nature.  Many of them believe that this is a good way to relieve their stress.  The time they spend with other members of their faith also makes it easier to support each other's values and habits.

Exercise is a Normal Part of their Lives

According to the Adventist Health Survey, their followers who participate in some type of regular, low-intensity exercise, such as taking a daily walk, have a lower risk of heart disease, as well as some types of cancers.  Walking and staying active are considered essential parts of their daily lives.

Volunteering Helps Them Maintain a Positive Outlook

They have also learned that it makes people happier when they help others.  As a group, Adventists provide many opportunities for their members to volunteer.  This gives them a sense of purpose, helps them stay active, and lowers their risk of depression.  This is a classic case of helping yourself by helping others.

Eating a Plant-Based Diet Provides Health Benefits

The Adventist Health Survey indicated that those who ate a plant-based diet, supplemented with small amounts of meat and fish, had lower levels of a wide variety of diseases.  After studying the Adventist diet, here is what researchers recommend:

Eat a small handful of nuts five times a week - Nuts appeared to cut the risk of heart disease in half and added two years to their lives.

Eat mostly fruits, vegetables and whole grains - A plant based diet protected their adherents against a variety of cancers.  The nonsmoking Adventists who ate two or more servings of fruit each day had a 70 percent lower rate of lung cancer than nonsmokers who ate fruit only once or twice a week.  Those who ate peas, beans and other legumes three times a week saw a 30 to 40 percent reduction in colon cancer. The women who ate tomatoes at least three or four times a week reduced their ovarian cancer risk by 70 percent, and men who ate tomatoes had a lower rate of prostrate cancer.

Limit your consumption of meat - If meat is eaten at all, Adventists tend to consume it in small quantities, primarily as a side dish, not the central part of the meal.

Eat a light, early dinner - Following this schedule appeared to promote better sleep and helped people have a lower BMI (Body Mass Index).

Drink 5 or 6 glasses of water daily - Those who followed this recommendation had a 60 to 70 percent reduction in heart attacks.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Those Adventists who followed the above exercise and diet routines were able to maintain lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than the typical American.  They also had less heart disease than heavier Americans who typically also have higher BMIs.

Learn More about the Blue Zones

The benefits of living the Blue Zones lifestyle are amazing, especially considering that Loma Linda, California is not a remote, rural village, but a thriving, busy suburb of Los Angeles.  It is surrounded by freeways, and experiences both noise and air pollution.  Despite these environmental issues, the residents embrace a lifestyle which still helps them manage to live long, healthy, productive lives, with low rates of dementia and disability.

If you would like to learn even more about how to follow this lifestyle, you can check out   The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People. (Ad)

Following this lifestyle could be life-changing, keep you healthy and boost your chances of living a longer life.

If you want to learn more about common health problems (and how to deal with them) as you age, retirement planning, Medicare, Social Security, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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Photo credit:  Loma Linda photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

How the U.S. Lifespan Doubled in 150 Years

If you had been born in the United States in the late 1800's, just after the Civil War, your life expectancy would have been about 40 years old.  People routinely died of tuberculosis, tonsillitis, fever, smallpox, worms and childbirth ... as well as infections after injuries.

Today, the average U.S. lifespan has doubled to nearly 80.  How did Americans manage to nearly double their life expectancy in 150 years?  What changed during those decades?

Purified Water

Although we take clean water for granted today, it was an enormous project to purify our water nationwide.  For decades into the 1900's, cities often dumped their sewage into the local rivers, lakes and waterways ... and then piped that same water back into the cities to use as drinking water.  They assumed that dilution would adequately purify the water.

When they began to realize that wasn't true, the nation undertook massive construction projects to separate sewage water and drinking water, filter it and chlorinate it.  Historians who have traced the changing life expectancy in the U.S. believe that as much as one-half of the reduction in the death rate is a result of clean water.

Today, millions of people routinely purify their drinking water further, using everything from filters in their refrigerator water dispensary to filters that can be attached to their kitchen tap.

The Discovery of Germs

The use of soap to clean hands made a dramatic difference in the health of people around the world.  It took decades before people began to accept the idea that invisible germs cause diseases.  Once they did, it made a tremendous difference in preventing bacterial infections and reducing the prevalence of a variety of illnesses.

The importance of using soap cannot be overstated.  Even today, children who live in areas where they have little access to soap and clean water often have stunted growth!

Sanitary Housing

In the 1800's, the leading cause of death was tuberculosis.  It spread quickly because most people lived in crowded, dark and poorly ventilated homes.

Once people began to move into less crowded, airier and brighter homes, the disease slowed down.  Direct sunlight kills the bacteria that causes TB.  Having fewer people in a residence also make it easier for people to avoid coming in contact with people who carry the disease.

Advances in home sanitation, accompanied by better medical treatments for contagious diseases, have made a huge difference in the transmission of some of the most feared diseases of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Fortified Food

In the late 1800's, many cases of poor health and weakened immune systems were caused by a lack of the proper nutrients in our food.  Scurvy was caused by a lack of vitamin C; rickets by a lack of vitamin D; pellagra by a lack of niacin; goiters by a lack of iodine.

Once scientists began to realize there was a connection between nutrition and certain diseases, companies began to fortify many of our foods.  People were also encouraged to eat a variety of foods that would prevent these common diseases.  More emphasis was placed on eating fruits and vegetables.  As it became easier to transport food around the world, people were less dependent on only eating seasonal produce that was locally grown.

Laws to Protect People from Contaminated Food

In 1906, the government passed the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act.  These laws lead to the creation of the Food and Drug Administration.  Prior to that, contaminated food was one of the most common causes of death in young children.  When they began eating solid food, they simultaneously became exposed to typhoid fever, botulism, salmonella and diseases that could cause diarrhea.  The pasteurization of milk and the inspection of meat also reduced the number of food born illnesses.

While incidences of contaminated food still occur, they are much less frequent than they were prior to the 20th century.


While quarantines are rarely used in the U.S. today, except during the recent Ebola scare, it was a common tool used by city officials in the past.  During the late 1800's and early 1900's, quarantines were the only way to prevent the spread of many deadly diseases and they were widely used.


Inoculations have nearly eliminated many diseases that were known to wipe out hundreds of thousands of people in the past ... or severely cripple them.  Diseases such as smallpox and polio are almost unheard of today.

While there has been some controversy about vaccinations and, occasionally, people have an adverse reaction to them, they have contributed to longer lives.

What Will the Future Bring?

As researchers continue to develop new treatments for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, life expectancy in the U.S. and other developed countries is expected to continue to increase ... although the increase is likely to be uneven. Unfortunately, people without access to healthcare, clean water and nutritious food, as well as those who continue bad habits such as smoking or alcohol and drug abuse, will not benefit from medical advances as much as others.

No one knows what the maximum possible lifespan could be.  However, there has been a great deal of longevity research in the past few years, including the study of the Blue Zones ... places in the world where people routinely live to be around 100 years old.  If you are interested in learning more about longevity or the Blue Zones, you may be interested in one of the books below:


If you are interested in learning more about health issues that could affect you as you age, the best places to retire, financial planning, family relationships, travel and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Reader's Digest, "Why Are You Not Dead Yet?" by Laura Helmuth, November, 2015, pg. 81.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Surprising Tips for a Healthier, Longer Life

Are you hoping to have a happy, healthy and long life after retirement?  If so, this article is full of fun and interesting tidbits of information that I have gathered from a variety of sources.  In fact, I promise to come back and update this article from time to time as I run across more interesting ideas!

Tips for Staying Healthy in your Senior Years

Take walks.  There are lots of reasons for spending at least 30 minutes a day walking.  First, taking a walk is even better at improving your memory than spending time solving puzzles.  In addition, exercise of any kind is an effective way to reduce depression, which can become a problem as we age. So, keep moving as much as possible.

Stretch frequently.  It may help to take classes in yoga or Tai Chi.  In fact, these gentle stretching exercises seem to help relieve the pain and discomfort of arthritis or fibromyalgia.

Get any type of exercise you enjoy, including gardening.  The longer you exercise in your later years, the healthier and more active you will be.  This will also make your life more enjoyable. People who live in the "Blue Zones," or areas of the world where it is common to live a healthy life until the age of 100, continue to stay active well into their 90's. Once people stop moving, their life is likely to be shortened.

Spend time outside, weather permitting.  Get a little sun on your skin, about 20 minutes a day, before putting on sunscreen.  Natural Vitamin D is protective against a host of diseases, including certain types of cancer.  When you cannot get outside, take a Vitamin D supplement.

If possible, get a pet.  They can lower your blood pressure and stress levels, as well as give you another reason to get more exercise.

Interact with other people.  Socialize. Join a club. Volunteer.  Work on building relationships with your friends and family.  Participate in the religious institution of your choice.  All of these activities will help you stay healthy and happy for years to come.  Whatever you do, do it with zest.  Having a purpose in life has been shown to help people live longer.

Slow down.  Relax.  Take a vacation.  In other words, take time to smell the roses and enjoy your life.

Tips for Living Longer

Most of the above suggestions for healthy living will also contribute to a longer life.  However, to maximize the length of your life, you will want to use the following suggestions, as well.

Watch less television.  Some researchers have concluded that one hour of watching television trims more time from your life than smoking a cigarette.

On the other hand, this doesn't mean you can keep smoking if you want to live a long life.  People who quit smoking by the age of 40 will still live about 10 years longer than those who keep smoking.

Eat a plant based diet, and eat less than you normally do.  According to National Geographic researchers, people who live in the "Blue Zones," where it is not uncommon for people to live to be 100 years old, tend to eat less meat and stop eating a meal when they are 80% full.

Drink a small amount of red wine on a regular basis.

If you are interested in more tips for healthy living, or you would like ideas about where to retire, financial planning, changing family relationships and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Sources for these health facts:

"Live Longer & Better" by Gretchen Reynolds. Parade Magazine, January 27, 2013

You may also be interested in reading these articles:

Healing Relationships with Your Adult Children
Sexually Transmitted Diseases After Age 50
How to Treat Chronic Pain
How to Prevent Bone Loss from Osteoporosis

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