Lessons for Living Healthier and Longer From Regions Around the World

| March 7, 2012

Many women desire to live fulfilling lives; it is the desire of most human-beings. Our quest to live purpose-filled lives can be enhanced by the state of our health, and a healthy body can achieve a lot more than an unhealthy one can. That is why at the start of the New Year, we made resolutions to eat better, exercise more and make other healthy choices. It is the third month of the year, and you are probably sighing as you read this article, because you can’t quite figure out what happened to that sure-fire attitude you had in the first week of the New Year.

Life might have gotten in the way of your many plans and resolutions, but it is never too late to take steps to re-commit to eating and living healthy. As women, we are busy with building our careers, growing our love relationships and taking care of our parents and our children all in the same breath. We have no time to exercise, take a break, and cook a healthy meal or, sometimes, even sleep. We make excuses for why it is so hard to consistently choose health over our obligations.

A few years ago, the world was introduced to the world’s regions, The Blue Zones and The Cold Spots. Research has shown that people who live in these regions live longer lives and are mostly disease-free, and there are a few things we can emulate from their way of life. 

Places like Italy, Japan, Greece, California, and Costa Rica are called The Blue Zones by explorer Dan Buettner and a team of longevity researchers. The region is described in his book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. People who live in these regions traditionally stay healthy and active and age beyond 100 years.

The Cold Spots, as identified by integrative medicine physician Daphne Miller, M.D., author of The Jungle Effect, are five areas in Mexico, Iceland, Japan, Greece, and Cameroon with low rates of “Western” sicknesses like heart disease, depression, and certain cancers.

So just what is it about these people and the way they live that keeps them so healthy and free from obesity, heart disease and premature death? What are their secrets?

Eat smaller portions: This goes without saying that the fewer portions you eat, the more likely you are to maintain a slim waistline and a healthy weight. Don’t pile your plate with everything your hands can reach. When you control your portions, you take in lesser calories which reduces your chance of obesity. Whether you eat protein, carbohydrates, fat or sweet, being conscious of what you put into your body is important, it is equally important to take note of how much you put into it.

Eat closer to the earth:If you need to pile on the food, then it might as well be those dug right up from your garden. Go for fruits and vegetables. The keywords here being, fresh and local. It has been reported that the Nordic diet produces low rates of obesity because they eat naturally. Despite scarce sunlight in regions of Iceland, people actually suffer less from depression because of their food intake.

Drink Wine: There! Now you have a good enough reason for your wine intake. But just as with everything else, moderation is the key word. Drinking a moderate amount of anti-oxidant wine is good for your heart.

Slow Down: Life has taught many of us to be on the go all the time. We do not have time to stop! As you adopt portion control and add cruciferous vegetables, whole grains, and berries to your diet, it is important that you form the habit of eating meals with family, friends and co-workers. You can sit at a table to eat instead of eating in motion. Savor each bite and stretch your meals out for 20 minutes or more.

Stay Connected: It is also crucial to establish a sense of connection and community because this lowers stress, enhances disease prevention and increases longevity. We all know the benefits of a good laugh and great company. In Blue Zones like Okinawa, Japan, there is a strong sense of family bonds, and social support. High value is placed on active participation in the community even late into one’s 80s, 90s and 100s.

Eat Good Fat: To increase your chance of living longer and reducing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s and obesity, incorporate good fats like olive oil and oils found in nuts and fish into your diet.

Get up and Get out: According to Buettner, “The longest living people don’t think of exercise as a chore.” Make exercise a part of how you live. Take short walks after dinner or make extra trips carrying your groceries or laundry up and down the stairs. Equally important is getting out and involved in your community. Form social bonds, give back to the community, volunteer, and surround yourself with friends who are themselves conscious of living healthy lives. Why? Because, their lifestyle could be contagious, and you don’t need the negative influence.

Take it easy: Stress is a part of life, but you can take it easy by managing your stress levels. Meditate, pray, relax, sleep, run and socialize.

It’s totally okay to enjoy the occasional cheeseburger or fail to exercise for a day. What matters is that you strive for the best possible efforts and move forward in your quest to live a healthy and sensible life. A regular lifestyle of eating good food, staying connected to others, and moving is a certified way to convert your own region of the world into a Blue Zone or a Cold Spot.

 

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AdeOla Fadumiye

AdeOla Fadumiye is a writer, who loves dancing, traveling, reading, cooking, exercising, the outdoors and sports. She is also an adventurer at heart. Her greatest desires are to see women live a life of purpose, and to help bring justice to the poor and oppressed. As editorial assistant at Afrikan Goddess Magazine, AdeOla loves having the opportunity to further stand for the cause of the African woman. She currently resides in Burnsville, MN. Her newest venture includes her freelance writing business called JostWrite; she is also working on a book and blogging at http://jostwrite.blogspot.com/

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