By: Jonathan Tait, D.O. – 9/8/15
In his best-selling book, The Blue Zones, Dan Buettner traveled the world to figure out the longevity secrets of places in the world where higher percentages of people enjoy remarkably long, full lives.
These are not communities where people experience a sputtering decline in health and function, and spend their time in doctor’s offices. These are communities of people going after life and living it to the fullest right to the end. You can find them open-ocean swimming, climbing mountains, and competing in various physical challenges. Many of them continue (by choice) to function as a pillar in the towns and business communities they have been part of for decades.
They don’t regress and wither away as they age.
They keep growing and thrive as they age.
So, can we crack the code?
Can we figure out the secrets of those living in The Blue Zones throughout the world?
Does this have to do with your genetics?
The answers may surprise you.
A good thought as we hear a lot about genetics influencing development of various diseases. However, it is now thought that possibly as little as 10% of your long-term health potential may be dictated by the genes you have inherited from your parents.
In other words, a family history of diabetes, heart disease, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, etc., DOES NOT mean that you will inherit these problems. It does mean that you have a stronger likelihood then someone without those genetic factors. There is something much larger at play, and the great news for you, is that that something larger is largely within your control.
In Buettner’s exhaustive research of The Blue Zone communities, he determined that lifestyle and environment were a much greater influence on health, comprising more than 80% of your long-term health potential.
Epigenetics is the study of how external or environmental factors can turn genes on and off. This field of research is absolutely exploding. If you are a nerd like me, this is really cool stuff.
How you care for yourself, and the make-up of the internal and external environment you subject your body to on a daily basis, will have a much greater influence on how you age – and what diseases you may encounter as you age.
Do you want to know the lifestyle and environment factors that contributed most to optimal health, vitality, and Functional Aging?
There are 9 elements that had the greatest impact:
Squatting, lifting, rolling, running, and dancing (even badly). Movements you could once perform effortlessly. In our personal and small-group training programs we focus on functional, fundamental and natural movement patterns that you must maintain to maintain optimal function as you age.
Have a Defined Sense of Purpose
Do you groan and hit the snooze button on the alarm clock, or pop-up with the first morning’s light ready to attack the day? What is your purpose? What motivates you? Are you working on a personal challenge to keep you focused on prioritizing your day around your health, or are you challenged to fit anything positive for your health around your work day?
Feeling purpose, having future goals, and challenging your mind (and body) is thought to add more than 7 years to your life. Do you know anybody that retired, and sputtered away to an early death? Do not have that be your future.
Chronic stress will run you body into the ground and shorten your life. That simple.
Stress, and the inflammation within the body that comes as a result of persistent stress, is associated with every chronic disease state.
You must find a productive outlet. Exercise is a perfect outlet that can calm your stress and elevate your mood.
80% Rule for Eating
While sharing meals with residents of the Blue Zones, Buettner observed that they commonly pushed the plate away when they felt 80% full. They did not overeat – even healthy food.
Plant Slant to the Diet
A heavy plant-based diet was the most common diet followed in The Blue Zone regions. Everything was whole food, or as close to it as possible with minimal processing, alteration, or Frankenstein engineering all too common in our food supply.
Meat and dairy consumption was also found to be considerably less than the typical American diet.
Wine at 5
Before you get carried away, put down that bottle. What Buettner found, and what is generally supported from a medical perspective, is that a glass of wine every evening could have some positive health value.
Residents of these communities would walk to a friend or family’s house, sip on a glass of wine while catching up on the day’s news, have a light dinner, then walk home.
Belong to a Faith-based Group
Spiritual and sound mental health can add anywhere from 4-14 years to your life.
Self-explanatory. Family is everything within these communities, with often times several generations living together.
Find the Right Tribe
Studies have shown that if you hang out with healthy people you are more likely to be healthy. You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with (whether in person or long-distance by phone).
I am confident you can find the right tribe and family here at Rejuv Medical Southwest to help add quality years to your life…….the wine….you’ll have to find that somewhere else!
Committed to your health and helping you live life better (and bluer),