As inevitable as it is, human beings have been fighting against aging for centuries. Throughout history, scientists and doctors have researched endless ways to delay or even completely avoid this natural process. Different points of view on how to approach the natural cycle of life can really affect the way one ages. A podcast called the TED Radio Hour featured an episode on the “The Fountain of Youth” a couple of years ago. Guest speaker Dan Buettner, a writer and an explorer, narrates his quest to find the fountain of youth which leads him to the topic of Blue Zones. Blue zones are these towns or cities where people live up to 100 years (or more) while maintaining good health without medication or disabilities. The inhabitants of these blue zones have learned that aging doesn't need to be a dreaded process, but is rather a privilege.
The 5 Famous Blue Zones
THE ITALIAN ISLAND OF SARDINIA
*Photo Credit: Ormina Tours
*Photo credit: Luxury Travel Magazine
LOMA LINDA, CALIFORNIA
*Photo Credit: NBC News
COSTA RICA’S ISOLATED PENINSULA OF NICOYA
*Photo credit: Gianluca Colla- National Geographic- Getty Images
IKARIA, AN ISOLATED GREEK ISLAND
Photo Credit: Eirini Vourloumis for the Guardian
On average, people that live in these places live longer than anyone else on the planet. Dan B. concludes that the secret is in the way they organize their society and how they treat their elders. In Blue Zones, the older you get, the more equity you have and the more wisdom you are celebrated for. And let’s be honest, in Americanized society being old is not seen as a good thing; we forget about the experiences collected throughout all those years and instead focus only on the young, new, and beautiful.
What’s the secret?
After 5 years of research on these communities, they discovered the secret to longevity and health. The secret has nothing to do with modern technology or massive amounts of exercise or strict diets, but instead “a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet, daily exercise and low-stress life that includes family, purpose, religion, and meaning.” (Singularity Hub Staff, 2009). People work and do regular activities up to the last years of their life. For example, in the Italian island of Sardinia, people have to walk long distances and go up and down flights of stairs to go visit friends and family every day. They also like to drink organic red wine and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. It’s simple, they maintain a healthy, simple lifestyle by default.
Learning from these communities is a great way to improve what the future looks like for each of us. It’s never too late to improve and change our mindset incorporating more vegetables and beans in our diets, walking , taking the stairs, spending more time with family and friends, and investing in relationships that matter and the things you love. In addition to that, be more conscious about the products we use for personal care. Formulas and ingredients can go both ways: either do a lot of good or a lot of damage to your health. Be aware and choose what's good for you.
Right now might not be the time to pack my bags and move to one of these places, but I can definitely apply some positive changes in my lifestyle: fewer chemicals, less processed foods, more physical activities, and more quality time with all those who surround me. What do you think?