The Blue Zone

“What is this thing you have about the color blue?” you might ask. “I’m innocent,” I cry. The blue for the flag on the beach had to be deliberate, to avoid the colors of the warning flags. The blue zone was more accidental I found out as I read this airplane magazine. People were using colored pencils to denote the ages of people living in a town. Blue was chosen for people over 100. There were a few regions around the world where people noticed an unusual amount of blue. They looked carefully to make sure. They were not always large areas, but in them the number of 100-year-olds per thousand people was unusual, clearly above statistical variations.

At first, they thought it must be genetics, but two factors weighed against it. One was thesardinia.jpg locations. The first discovered was Barbagia, Sardinia, Italy. Next, they found Okinawa, Japan. Another spot was Nicoya, Costa Rica. In Icaria, Greece, they found the highest percent of 90-year-olds in the world, and a high rate of 100 year olds. Finally, Seventh Day Adventists of Loma Linda was added as the highest amount in the United States. Obviously, People of Italy, Okinawa, Costa Rica, Greece and Loma Linda don’t share many genes.

The second point was that people who live close to these people, and genetically are basically identical to them, often didn’t have any more centenarians than the world average. With genetics being eliminated, they had to look for factors in common. Some things were common for all people, and some were unique to one or two groups but noted because they were different from the nearby “normal” regions.

A very important common factor is diet. I have been following (more or less) the MIND diet, because it does some of these things. One factor is these people are semi-vegetarian or completely vegetarian. This means you eat meat up to two times a week (other studies focus on fish and chicken as the meats to eat.) As a substitute for meat, these people eat beans, also known as legumes or pulses. Common examples are, peas, chickpeas, lentils, beans, broad beans, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts and tamarind.

Much of the MIND diet is not specifically mentioned but since they have been proven tonuts do the same things (no dementia, longer life), it is still valid. No foods are on the list that are not on the MIND diet. The three other food mentioned are whole grains, nuts and red wine. Whole wheat, brown rice, and whole kernal corn are examples of Whole Grains. Nuts are tree nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews. Red wine is beneficial, but red grapes would supply the high polyphenols, but not the alcohol. Low or no alcohol intake is stressed (Drink a little wine for your stomach’s sake. Says the Bible) More than one glass for women or two glasses a day for men totally destroys the benefit.

Food is not the only quality in common. There are other, more social factors. People don’t retire. They keep working until physically unable, thus keeping worth to their lives. Furthermore, they are socially active in family and in community, not this fractured family and uninvolved community that America encourages. Two more factors are no smoking and exercise. When we use labor saving devices to enable ourselves to sit in front of the TV or computer longer, we have not done ourselves and favors.

The final one is Faith. This is more than community, though faith puts you into a faith based community. It is more than worth, though knowing God says you have worth gives a similar result to work, “My life has meaning.” Faith also, done right, leads to low stress, as does a no time urgency lifestyle. The power of God within you, helping you forget about yourself, being filled with God’s love and letting God focus you outward is more than these. A self focused faith give you the first three, but not the last one. The faith must be God focused and other focused, not on self. The other factors, food community, and work/exercise are all Biblical, but Faith in God enhances them and adds something more. That is why I always urge the life of Trust.

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