There’s a village in Sardinia called Seulo that has the highest number of centenarians in the world.
Seulo is one of the world’s ‘blue zones’. Blue zones aren’t the coldest part of the house, they’re places in the world where people live and live and live and live and …
There are five specific blue zones in the world, Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya, Costa Rica and Ikaria, Greece.
So what are blue zones? Blue Zone is a name that describes an area with the highest count of healthy older adults with almost no dementia or diabetes.
The name blue zone was originally used by the author Dan Buettner, who studied areas of the world with people who lived exceptionally long and healthy lives. When Buettner and his team searched these areas, they circled them on the map with a blue pen.
So these areas could have been called green zones, yellow zones or red zones if that had been the first pen to hand.
So back to Seulo. Seulo was featured in the series “Down to Earth” where Zac Efron and a wellness expert, Darin Olien, travel the world searching for countries with the healthiest lifestyles and habits.
And what’s not to love about a series that is informative and also easy on the eye?
The people in this village live a long time; in fact, this village has nearly ten times more centenarians per capita than the whole of America.
So how do these villagers live longer than most other people? And they don’t just live longer; they stay healthier than most other people during their long life.
How? A lot of it has to do with how they eat.
How can you eat like people in Blue zones?
You might be fed up (get it?) with hearing about how you ‘should’ eat but something is working here and it’s got to be worth checking it out?
As a plant-based eater, I was happy to hear that only 5% of the blue zone diet is from meat, fish, and poultry. And when I say diet, I mean the daily diet and not a prescribed medical diet or the latest fad on TikTok.
Meat is only eaten on Sundays and special occasions, and the dairy they consume is from their own animals and not processed.
And life is slow in Seulo. Slow food and slow days.
In Ikaria, dubbed the island where people forget to die, a local doctor, Dr Ilias Leriadis, said,’ We wake up late and always take naps. I don’t even open my office until 11 a.m. because no one comes before then.” He took a sip of his wine. “Have you noticed that no one wears a watch here? No clock is working correctly. When you invite someone to lunch, they might come at 10 a.m. or 6 p.m. We simply don’t care about the clock here.’
People spend time with family and friends. They walk a lot and enjoy a glass of red wine. These villagers have very little stress; they live in the moment and enjoy what they have.
It’s something that many people talk about doing, but how many actually do this? Do you intend to live like this one day? When you’ve got enough money or you retire?
Why not make one day today?
All the Blue zones have a diet full of whole plant foods. The people who live in these zones aren’t vegetarians or vegans, but their diet tends to be rich in vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts.
They also eat a lot of beans, lentils, and chickpeas, which are all rich in fiber and protein and are associated with lower mortality, and a lot of whole grains rich in fiber and nuts that are a great source of fiber and good fats.
They use grass-fed goat’s milk rather than cow’s milk. If you’re going to eat dairy, goat’s milk has potassium and tryptophan. It’s also hypoallergenic and so can be tolerated by anyone that is lactose intolerant.
Many of these people eat fish which is a good source of omega-3 fats and are essential for heart and brain health.
And a big part of their health is that they eat as much for enjoyment as health.
Many people in the blue zones say that they stop eating when they are 80% full rather than 100% full, which is a natural and healthy form of calorie restriction and unlike many people who don’t like to leave the table unless they’re stuffed full.
Many blue zoners also practice some kind of fasting, either on religious holidays or intermittent fasting, and eat the smallest meal in the late afternoon or evening.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, ‘Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper, and there’s a reason for this as eating light later helps digestion and sleep.
The blue zoners drink moderate amounts of alcohol, mainly red wine. But the wine they drink has high levels of antioxidants that contribute to a long life rather than full of sulfites, so if you want to have a glass of red wine, do your best to find one without sulfites.
How can you live like people in Blue zones?
Exercising every day is important, but you won’t find any of the zoners in the gym or sweating it out on a Peleton.
They build exercise into their daily life through gardening and walking. Seulo, for example, is very hilly, and as the villagers walk to the village at least once a day, they’re getting all the exercise they need walking to meet friends for a glass or two of vino.
The centenarians in the blue zones also sleep when they need to rather than by the clock or falling into bed late after an evening slumped on the sofa watching Netflix. They also have daytime naps.
I know that daytime naps may not work when you’re in the office, although Google has installed sleep pods in its offices for staff requiring a nap, but if you don’t work for a progressive company that values its staff, going to bed when you feel tired instead of when the program you’re watching finishes really can make a difference to your longevity.
Living a stress-free life
The centenarians in all of the blue zones appear to live a stress-free life, they make it a priority to take downtime. Depending on their community, that could be playing games, taking a nap, praying, or enjoying a glass of wine.
You might think that it’s all right for them, but they’re old.
But you also have the ability to switch off from daily irritations and you don’t have to emigrate to a blue zone or wait until you’re a centenarian to do this.
Change the way you eat. Cut out regular takeaway meals and processed food. Junk the junk and eat simple meals of fresh food.
Sweat it out at the gym if you want to but take more walks in nature. Treat yourself to a pair of hiking boots to treat yourself to a healthier life.
Family and friends are essential in all of the blue zone communities. So spend time with other people.
Recognize that stress isn’t coming from your busy life but from your thoughts about your busy life.
Laugh, love, and live a long life.