A lot can be said for following the lifestyle factors uncovered in the book The Blue Zone in respect to a healthy life and extended longevity. The following article presents an excellent summary of these findings.
A lecture (19 minutes) about The Blue Zones from the author, Dan Buettner Forget the hype and headlines, the real truth lies somewhere in these cultures that exhibit health and the greatest longevity in the world. There is an excellent summary, so click on nine commonalities attributed to longevity at the end of the article.
This is a great book. It is so much more than just a diet book. The people of these five global areas generally are some of the longest-living and healthiest seniors on the planet. The book, The Blue Zone Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People by Dan Buettner has four parts:
- Discovering the Blue Zones
- Making an American Blue Zone
- Building Your Own Blue Zone
- Blue Zone Recipes
What can we learn about diets from the Japanese? They have low rates of major chronic disease and have a high life expectancy. They eat a diet high in carbs and still have a low incidence of obesity. How do they do it? Again, it may be the kinds of carbs (there are some healthy carbs) they eat, get more exercise and follow a low fat diet.
The Traditional Japanese Diet:
- The diet is one of the lowest in fat – traditionally the Japanese get 26% of their calories as fat – about 8% lower than the U.S.
- Fish is favorite protein source.
- Soy foods are abundant.
- They focus on presentation enhancing the enjoyment of food.
- They eat little processed food. They eat real food.
- They eat about 65% of their calories from carbohydrate – mainly rice.
Japan: High carbs, more exercise, low fat
U.S.: High carbs, less exercise, high fat. Think of the popularity of ice cream or a candy bar. Sugar plus fat wins out every time. Much of our highly processed foods are loaded with both.
For more on Asian diets, CLICK HERE.
Since the beginning of time, humans have sought ways to live longer or stay young. Everyone is familiar with the story of Ponce De Leon who failed to find the “fountain of youth.” However, a lesser known Italian man named Luigi Cornaro born in the 15th century, may have come closer. He lived a life of abundance including food until a doctor advised him to cut back on his intake at the age of 36. He wrote books that promoted the idea “of eating as little as possible” entitled “The Art of Living Long.” Some accounts say he lived to be either 89 or 102 (depending on the source) in times when life expectancy was only 30. Had he discovered the fountain of youth or was this just a big coincidence?
For several decades, interest in calorie restriction and longevity has been studied in many species and it was concluded that restricting caloric intake (20 -40% less than recommended) but meets the needs of all nutrients, has extended the lifespan as much as 50% in organisms such as insects, worms, and rodents. It also reduces the incidence of many chronic diseases such as heart disease and some cancers, improves immune function, and maintains function into later life.
These studies extended to the primates by the 1980’s that led to the result than when rhesus monkeys were calorie restricted by 30% fewer calories in nutritionally adequate diets, their lifespans were indeed increased. In addition, the animals had lower body fat, less muscle loss and a lower incidence of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Human studies have been problematic for the simple reason that adherence of study participants to such diets for any length of time is difficult.
Epidemiological evidence supports the idea from studies of the long-lived population of Okinawa. They have traditionally practiced calorie restriction by eating until they are only 80 percent full. In the United States, mortality rates from heart disease are eight times higher and various cancers (lymphoma, colon, breast, and prostate) are four times higher than it is in Okinawa.
Would most healthy humans practice a calorie restricted diet? It is not easy. Caloric restriction would mean that a person who typically eats about 2000 calories per day could only eat 1200 to 1600 calories a day. Some researchers say this would be difficult and suggest that the best way to achieve this lifestyle would have to involve some form of intermittent fasting; however, that remains to be tested.
A new interesting study has tested this theory with healthy humans. For the details CLICK HERE