A new formula for wellbeing takes a page from Blue Zones, where residents are living longer and feeling anything but blue.
Life longevity is a common statistic that countries, communities, and cultures often point to as an indicator of health and happiness. In a new age of wellness, conversations about health are becoming more holistic and integrated, centered around moderation, collective care, and sustainable habits. Research about Blue Zones—communities around the world with extreme life longevity and overall health—is linking holistic, community-focused lifestyles with longer than the average life expectancies, offering a roadmap for a new path to wellbeing.
According to a Blue Zone report, residents of Sardinia, California, Costa Rica, Greece and Japan have the highest life spans globally. Locals in these locations live to be at least 90, if not 100, and have significantly reduced rates of heart disease and dementia. Looking for a new key to ultimate wellness, many are traveling to Blue Zones in order to enjoy, relax, and adopt elements of these health-boosting lifestyles.
This is leading to a rise in longevity tourism: Blue Zone hotels and communities are advertising their lifestyles as an experience for tourists to witness and learn from during their stay. At the Halekulani Hotel in Okinawa, Japan advertises “Secrets of Longevity” retreats for visitors. In Puglia, Italy, travelers can indulge in a luxury “Longevity Program” with Blue Zone cooking lessons, exercises, and social events.
Blue Zone diets
Cooking is in fact a prominent factor in Blue Zone health. Mediterranean diets are especially popular in a few of the locations, especially in Greece, where sea fennel is a particularly healthy staple known for its brain function support. All of the locations, however, support a plant-based diet and include carbohydrate and milk products only in moderation.
Teas are also an important element of Blue Zone diets, many of which are high in antioxidants and are brewed with herbs that have a variety of health benefits. Japanese green tea and matcha are often associated with heart health, while chan seeds, popular in Costa Rican cuisine, are helpful in lowering blood pressure. Made from Sideritis plants, Greek Mountain tea is thought to promote brain health, and milk thistle tea from Sardinia is known to protect against certain types of cancers.
The Blue Zone emphasis on community and a greater purpose is an important driving factor that slows aging and maintains a collective happiness amongst residents. Participating in group-focused exercises such as walking, dancing, or even gardening doubles as social interaction and regular, moderate physical movement in these communities. Older citizens who lived with a sense of belonging and purpose had fewer health-related issues compared to those in other environments, making these locations global hot spots for retirees.
Living according to these healthy habits of collective care is an important element to longevity in the Blue Zones. Vacationers, residents, and retirees alike are looking for rewarding excursions to embark on in the months to come. Following a heightened focus on health, consumers are looking for more holistic, integrated healthy lifestyles, and Blue Zones offer a formula for that.
Main image of Greece, courtesy of Blue Zones, LLC.