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How to live longer like a Blue Zone centenarian

In the UK, life expectancy for individuals born between 2020-2022 ranges from 78.6 and 82.6 years of age, depending on your gender.1 When you compare this statistic to those of the Blue Zones, where individuals frequently live over 100 years old2, you start to wonder, where are we going wrong?

What are the Blue Zones?

The Blue Zones are five areas around the world where you will find a large proportion of centenarians. These areas of longevity were discovered by Dan Buettner and include Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica and Loma Linda, California.3

Lets take a look at three key areas that researchers studied when looking at the Blue Zones longevity;

1. Nutrition

Despite the geographical differences, the dietary patterns of the five Blue Zones have several similarities. One similarity is the high consumption of plant foods. On average, residents consume a diet consisting of 95% plant-based foods, with the other 5% from high, quality animal-based sources.4 Legumes and pulses are consumed daily, providing a high amount of fibre, as well as protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Legumes and pulses have been found to play a role in the prevention of various health conditions.5 Raising the question; could a high intake of fibre rich plant foods be contributing to the residents long and healthy lives?

In the UK, average fibre intake is as low as 18g per day for an adult,6 this is nearly half of the recommended intake of 30g per day. Low fibre intake has been found to negatively impact the gut microbiome.7 The good bugs in our gut feed on the fibre from our diet and in turn, produce postbiotics, which are highly beneficial compounds. Research shows, the gut microbiome is linked to healthy aging,8 highlighting the importance of looking after your gut microbiome. If you struggle to meet the daily fibre recommendations, our Complete Prebiotic provides 18 types of prebiotic fibre per 1 TBSP, making it an easy and convenient way to increase your fibre intake. A high intake of dietary fibre has been found to lower the risk of several chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes9 Check out Everything you need to know about fibre for more information.

It’s important to highlight the foods centenarians are not consuming; processed foods! Processed foods are largely absent in the Blue Zones. These foods lack nutritional value and often contain added ingredients that can harm our health like sugars, sweeteners, and other artificial ingredients. Ultra-processed foods are associated with health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.10 Instead, focus on a diet rich in a diverse range of whole foods, as this will support your overall health and longevity.

2. Exercise

Natural movement is a key component of the residents daily lives. Going to the gym for an hour on the treadmill, is unheard of. Instead, they remain naturally active all day long by gardening, looking after their animals, cooking, and regular walking. Travelling by foot, instead of the conveniences of a vehicle are common practise. Research shows that regular exercise reduces the risk of various chronic diseases and supports a healthier, longer life.11 Specifically, endurance exercise has been proven to support longevity.12 If you are looking to boost your activity levels, you may find using a device or app to count your steps helps to build an awareness of your daily movements and provide encouragement to move more consistently throughout the day.

3. Relationships

Residents in the Blue Zones place a great deal of importance on their relationships with others; prioritising their family, friends and loved ones. Being part of a supportive community is fundamental to their wellbeing. Research shows that positive social relationships are linked to increased longevity.13 If you are looking to find a supportive community, why not join a club that interests you, this can be a great way of meeting new, like-minded people!

For more plant-based food inspiration, check out Shopping for plant diversity – 4 easy tips

Any questions? Contact one of our Nutritional Therapists via live chat, weekdays from 8am to 8pm.


Questions? Talk to a Nutritional Therapist on live chat!

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