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Blue Zones

Blue zones, Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica), Loma Linda (California), and the Island of Ikaria (Greece) are regions of the world where people live active lives often past 100. What contributes to these pockets of people living longer and healthier lives? Funded in part by the U.S. National Institute on Aging, scientists studied these five longevity hot spots to discover the answer. They found that good genes help (20-30%), but there were other contributing factors people share that appear to play a bigger influence than your parents’ longevity.

The residents of the Italian island of Sardinia—first Blue Zone identified—are culturally isolated. Here, not only do the women reach the age of 100 at an amazing rate, but men do as well. Sardinians hunt, fish, and harvest their food. Families and friends remain close, with laughing and sharing red wine together a part of everyday life.

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The longest living women in the world are in Okinawa, Japan. According to the UN, Japan has the highest number of centenarians (85% of the world’s centenarians are female) in the world. Active and social, the Okinawans’ regular diet is fish, rice, vegetables, soy, and whole grains. Japanese centenarians rule for eating is to stop when their stomachs are 80% full. I take that to mean before they actually feel full. Sumitra writes, “Not only do they live long lives, they live very healthy and happy ones too.” An old Okinawa saying goes, “At 70 you are still a child, at 80 a young man or woman. And if at 90 someone from heaven invites you over, tell him: ‘Just go away, and come back when I am 100.’”

Okinawa

The centenarians in Nicoya, a peninsula in Costa Rica, say the have a “plan de vida,” a reason to get up in the morning because they feel needed. Families retain close social networks and share a strong belief in God and their daily “faith routines” which helps them relieve stress and anxiety.  Moderate daily activities include walking bicycling, cooking, and taking care of animals. Like other Blue Zone populations, their diet is primarily plant-based, especially legumes (beans, peas, and lentils).

Nicoya

The fourth Blue Zone was found by researchers who were studying a group of Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, a community in southern California. They discovered that the Adventists suffered a fraction of the diseases that kill most people in other parts of the U.S. “Many Seventh-Day Adventists are vegetarians, physically active, and involved in their community. In other words, their lifestyles are quite unique in an America where community has become less and less important and over one-third of the population is obese.” Adventists believe you should take care of what God has created. In the words of Pastor Randy of Loma Linda University’s Medical Center, “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Whatever you do in your body, you do it to the honor, the glory and the praise of God.” Smoking and drinking are discouraged, as is the consumption of caffeine, rich foods, and certain spices. Many celebrate the Sabbath (Saturday) by removing themselves from the larger culture.

Loma Linda

Ikaria is an island where people forget to die. They stay up late and take a siesta in the afternoon. The Ikarians experience a low stress lifestyle, maintaining their gardens, walking in nature and around the village with a view of the blue Aegean Sea. Their diet consists mainly of vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts, wheat, beans, fish and drinking with with friends and family. Family ties are important to Ikarians and houses often hold multiple generations. Grandparents have an active part in the upbringing of their grandchildren and the work in the household. From the Ikarian perspective, living alone is unhealthy.

Blue sea

Conclusion? The gift of a long and healthy life may be within our control. True, some of us are cursed with misbehaving genes that take us down, but those occurrences are a low percent. These  five longevity zones suggest that a long healthy life is about simplicity of lifestyle, whole food, sense of purpose—looking forward to getting up in the morning—, daily exercise, low stress, and social interactions.

Article is based on the book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest

The Answer

Savoring Life in the Latter Lanes

In my mostbook-1 recent book, I wrote the stories I like to write and read, a potpourri of everyday issues for post-menopausal women. Chapter one, Grace and Patience is about relationships, chapter three is about Sugar in Fruit, and chapter thirty-four Witness for Nature.

Forty-one stories to feed the mind and heart. Perfect when you want to read something new and unexpected—a friend waiting on your nightstand.

That’s my view on it and now time and marketing skills will determine how many women I can reach.

 

Aging is Awesome

Aging and laughingAging is a reward for living a long life. Not everyone grows old and many die before the prime time of their lives. We are thankful. With age comes gratitude and appreciation for every passing year. We appreciate rituals, drinking our first cup of coffee on the lanai or reading a book on a rainy afternoon. Here are some awesome things to appreciate about aging.

1. You begin to want less stuff. We accumulate more stuff than we need. As we get older, we begin to understand that less is more. We don’t need to surround ourselves with material things.

2. Indifference to others’ opinions. You learn that everyone doesn’t have to like you. You just have to like yourself. Actress Candice Bergen said, “People can get crazier as they get older. I can just be weird whenever I want, and there’s the freedom of not caring what people think.”

3. Your children become your friends. Raising children through their rebellious years, it’s hard to imagine this moment. But it happens. They are individuals in their own right, and now you laugh together about their past shenanigans.

4. You learn not to criticize. As we age, we know there is no value to be gained by criticizing anyone. You understand the value of dwelling on the positive and removing yourself from negativity.

5. You wear your wrinkles with pride. Wrinkles mean you laughed, grey hair means you cared, and scars mean you lived!

6. You have learned that you don’t always have to be right. Self-righteous indignation is exhausting. We understand the listening is more important than being right and possibly deferring to someone else’s point of view.

Spring Cleaning Old-Beliefs

 

Be careful how your talk to yourself because you are listening. Lisa M. Hayes
May spring breezes whisper of new beginnings. Freshness in the air motivates us to pay attention to neglected areas at home. We organize cluttered closets, get behind the refrigerator to clean and soak the microwave filter. Spring is also a great time to look inside ourselves for old beliefs and attitudes that limit us and hold us back from living life to the fullest.

Self-limiting attitudes are about as useful as an old shoe without a sole. Why hold on to it? How will it ever support you in a positive and useful way?

Months back, I listened as a neighbor talked about the years she sang in a chorus. It was impossible not to be moved as she relived an overseas trip with her choir where they sang in cathedrals in European cities. I could never be in a choir, I told myself, I can’t sing a single note. Last weekend, I attended the Riverwood Chorus performance and was thinking how much fun it would be to sing in a choir. Edith, you can’t sing, the self-limiting voice reminded me.

The back of the program stated, “No auditions are necessary and we would love to have you come sing with us”. I decided to let go of this self-limiting attitude and join them. The time would come when I’m too old and this would no longer an option. I emailed the President and with a touch of a key, I’d joined the Riverwood Chorus. Deep Thought

How do we catch self-limiting attitudes and how do we overcome them? HeartMath suggests these exercises to interrupt self-limiting attitudes and beliefs and create new ones.
• Start with a 30-minute time period and tune your inner awareness towards old beliefs so you can begin to catch them. Increase the duration or how often you do it as you desire.

• During the designated time period watch for limiting attitudes such as—I can’t do that. I’m not smart enough.

• Once you identify an old belief that you want to change, center in the heart and ask yourself what would a kinder attitude to replace the old one?

For example, my limiting belief is I can’t sing and I will make a complete fool of myself”. Instead, I say, “This thought is not helping me. Goodbye, old beliefs!”

I replace the old belief with a new, positive inner message adding a positive replacement attitude such as: “I’m still learning how to do this. No worries, I know I’ll get it down soon.”

It will feel superficial at first, but the more you engage in this practice, the more your attitudes and feelings will start aligning with your positive inner dialogue.

If we knew how powerful our thoughts really are, we guard against all negative thoughts. We would do our best not share or listen to them. Moving forward, my self-talk about singing will be encouraging and hopeful because I know that my mind is listening.