By Linda Culotta, Mortgage Loan Officer – New Construction/Renovation Loan Specialist
Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner has some intriguing insights into the world’s best practices in health, longevity, and medicine.
As you might know, Naples, Florida is presently in the third year of its efforts to become Blue Zones certified. Buettner’s book reveals the actual practices of populations that often reach remarkable longevity milestones – 100 years or more. One of those populations, in Sardinia, Italy, offers a number of health lifestyle guidelines that are worth considering if you’d like to create your own personal Blue Zone within your life.
Here’s what the Sardinian centenarians do:
Eat a lean, plant-based diet – The classic Sardinian diet consists of whole grain bread, beans, garden vegetables, fruits and, in some parts of the island, mastic oil. Part of their tradition includes pecorino cheese made from grass-fed sheep milk, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Meat is largely reserved for Sundays and special occasions.
Put family first – The Sardinians have strong family values, which helps assure that every member of the family is cared for. Those who live in strong, healthy families suffer lower rates of depression, suicide and stress.
Drink goat’s milk – A glass of goat’s milk contains components that are thought to protect against inflammatory diseases of aging such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Celebrate elders – Grandparents can provide love, childcare, financial help, wisdom, motivation to perpetuate traditions and a gentle push to help children succeed in their lives. This may all add up to healthier, better adjusted, and longer lived children. It may also give the overall population a life expectancy bump.
Take a walk – Walking five miles a day or more, as Sardinian shepherds do, provides all the cardiovascular benefits you might expect, but also has a positive effect on muscle and bone metabolism without joint-pounding marathons or triathlons.
Drink a glass or two of red wine daily – Cannonau wine has two to three times the level of arteryscrubbing flavonoids as other wines. Moderate wine consumption may also help explain lower levels of stress.
Laugh with friends – The men in this Blue Zone are famous for their sardonic sense of humor. They gather in the street each afternoon to laugh with and at each other. Laughter reduces stress, which can lower one’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
To create your own personal Blue Zone, try some of these options:
Inconvenience yourself – By making life a just a little tougher, you can easily add more activity to your day. Small individual choices, like getting up to change the TV channel or taking the stairs, can add up to a more active lifestyle. Eliminate some labor-saving devices like your garage door opener, electric canopener or powered lawn mower. And make frequent use of a bicycle, comfortable walking shoes, rake and broom.
Have fun and keep moving – Make a list of physical activities you enjoy. Rather than exercise for the sake of exercise, make your lifestyle more active. Ride a bicycle instead of driving. Walk to the store. At work, take a walking break instead of a coffee and donut break. Build activity into your routine and lifestyle. Do what you enjoy. Forget the gym if you don’t like it. You’re not likely to go there if you consider it a chore.
Walk – This is the one activity that all successful centenarians do almost daily. It’s free, easier on the joints than running, always accessible, invites company, and if you’re walking briskly, it may have the same cardiovascular benefits as running. After a hard day, a walk can relieve stress. After a meal, it can aid digestion.
Make a date – Getting out and about is more fun with other people. Combining walking and socializing may be the best strategy for setting yourself up for a consistent habit. Knowing someone else is counting on you may motivate you to keep a walking date. Whose company do you enjoy? Who do you like to spend time with? Do you know someone who shares the same level of physical ability?
Enroll in a yoga class – Be sure to practice at least twice weekly.
Plant a garden – Working in a garden requires frequent, low-intensity, full range of motion activity. You dig to plant, bend to weed, and carry to harvest. Gardening can relieve stress. And if you emerge from the season with fresh vegetables, that’s a Blue Zones trifecta!
The best time to start is now. You’ll absolutely feel the benefits of practicing these principals. And don’t forget to add more ways to create your own personal Blue Zone.
About the author:
Linda Culotta is a mortgage loan originator with Lake Michigan Credit Union of Florida’s Collier branch, and is committed to improving the financial wellbeing of her clients. For more information about LMCU-Florida’s involvement with the Blue Zones Project®, or for questions concerning mortgage financing and lending products, contact Linda at (239) 908-5860. Or send her an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.