Eating healthy has been associated with better health. But, let’s be real, how many of us even follow that? Not many, right? But, what if someone told you that you can eat like the people who lived for over 100 years and reciprocate the benefits for your health too? This is known as the Blue Zones Diet.
The concept of the Blue Zone diet was introduced by National Geographic Fellow and author Dan Buettner when he was travelling across the globe for his job.
He designated these Blue Zones as the areas wherein the citizens live the longest and have lesser reports of chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc.
Some of the most highlighted spots under the Blue Zone include:
- Okinawa, Japan
- Sardinia, Italy
- The community of Seventh-Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Majority of the people residing in the Blue Zones are believed to live over 100 years of age, which is pretty interesting and shocking at the same time.
The idea behind the blue zone diet is to eat the same way as the people in these zones eat, to further extend your lifespan.
Since our diet and lifestyle play a very crucial role on our lifespan, eating wholesome and healthy food is a necessity if you don’t want to end up complicating things for your health.
In the blue zone diet, 95-100% of the diet is plant based and derives majority of the food sources from plant based ingredients. There are wholesome vegetables, fruits, grains and everything good and nutrient packed.
So, that might make you think how it is different from vegan diets, right?
Well, the blue zone diet doesn’t put any restrictions on animal protein consumption. Although, there are restrictions on the type, quality and the quantity of the animal products that people consume.
Majority of the reports suggest that fish is considered the best animal product to be added in the diet but not more than thrice in a week, that too in a limited portion serving.
Even the amount of meat consumption is limited to 10 ounces in a month and not more than that. The diet also puts restrictions on the kind of drinks that you can drink. Sugary and carbonated beverages are out of question, so water is your best friend here.
According to the experts, it is said that majority of the people living in the blue zones tend to rely on coffee, tea or water for their drink sources. It does allow drinking red wine but in moderation.
Is it for everyone?
Even though there is technically nothing wrong with everyone trying this, it is beneficial that you always consult with a nutritionist before making drastic changes to the diet. It is always best to get that green signal first and then move ahead.
Since most of the diet is plant based and extremely healthy and nutritious, it is often tough for the meat eaters who don’t like plant based products much.
Additionally, making a complete switch can be tough in the beginning but it is an extremely health option for the individuals who are either obese or overweight.
But, attaining a completely plant based diet might not be for everyone, especially for the individuals who are on certain medications.
This is the reason why consulting a nutritionist prior to starting this can be a good option.
One thing that is very important to consider is the dedication. If you think that simply consuming a blue zone diet and not caring about the lifestyle you lead will provide with results, you are mistaken. It won’t.
In order for you to see effective results from the diet, it is important that you include better lifestyle changes too. Cut down on smoking and alcohol and give up the sedentary lifestyle that you have been living till now.
Dan Buettner also found that it was not just the diet alone that made the difference and extended the lifespan of these individuals, there were some accessory factors too.
Lack of stress, an active lifestyle, a good social life and having a strong sense of purpose in life were some of the factors that drove better results.
What kind of staples are in the Blue Zone diet?
The Blue zone diet does comprise of a few staple items that you will find in almost every blue zone household.
If you are thinking of eating like the people who lives over hundred years, there are a few staples that you need to add to your diet.
1. Legumes and lentils
The combination of legumes and lentils has been the main source of protein for these blue zoners. They are also loaded with ample amount of fiber in them and promote better heart functions, thereby helping improve overall health.
These food items are jam packed with proteins, complex carbs and essential nutrients that ensure to keep the overall health in check.
And, the options are abundant, so you will never get bored.
Much like the legumes, even nuts are considered a staple in the blue zone diet. They are perfect for snacking on and contain a healthy balance of protein, vitamins and minerals.
The unsaturated fatty acids in them have amazing benefits in keeping your cholesterol levels in check, thus promoting better heart functions too.
Additionally, they also have a high fiber content, which keeps you filled for long and thereby prevent the risks of overeating.
3. Leafy vegetables
Dark leafy vegetables are also a staple in the blue zone diet.
Majority of the leafy greens like kale, spinach etc. are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, the combination of which is necessary to keep you healthy.
They are a powerhouse of Vitamin A and C, the combination of which has amazing benefit on your health.
Oatmeal, especially the steel cut oatmeal is yet another ingredient that Dan Buettner found in majority of the homes in the blue zones.
The steel cut oats are the least processed option, thus helping promote better health. They are also high in fiber, which has better impacts in keeping you filled for a longer time.
It helps reduce weight gain, control the risks of diabetes and even promote better heart health.
Steel cut oats also have a good protein content in them, which you need for a healthier body.
Not many would think of this but another common staple in the blue zone diet is barley.
This wholegrain food has amazing benefits in lowering the cholesterol level and helps promote better digestion too.
Even this has good protein content in it which further helps.
If you have come across the term of Blue Zone diet and have been wondering what it is, we have clarified everything that you possibly needed to know about. Given that they do promote better health and prevent the risks of early death, eating like the 100 year olds might not be a bad idea after all. But, always ensure that you practice precaution and eat only after getting your needs verified by a nutritionist.