Dan Buettner, the founder of Blue Zones, helps Americans live longer, healthier lives. His groundbreaking work on longevity led to his 2005 National Geographic cover story “Secrets of Living Longer” and the publication of a few national bestselling books. In The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest he shows how people in these zones live an average of 7-10 years longer than the rest of the world‘s population.
There are a few lessons we can learn from Blue Zones inhabitants.
1. They mostly eat a plant based diet. They eat a variety of fruits, grains, vegetables and consumed lowered amount of processed foods. When meat is eaten, most eat a lean meat, such as fish and venison (Of course, I vote that the best diet is the whole plant based diet).
2. Avoiding dairy products. Blue Zones inhabitants minimize their consumption of dairy products such as cow’s milk, cheese, cream, and butter.
According to Dan Buettner, “Arguments against milk often focus on its high fat and sugar content. Neal Barnard, the founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, points out that 49% of the calories in whole milk and about 70% of the calories in cheese come from fat—and that much of this fat is saturated. All milk has lactose sugar as well. About 55% of the calories in skim milk come from lactose sugar, for example. While Americans have relied on milk for calcium and protein for decades, in the Blue Zones diet people get these nutrients from plant-based sources. One cup of cooked kale or two-thirds of a cup of tofu, for instance, provides just as much bioavailable calcium as a cup of milk.” 1
3. They eat more natural and less processed sugar. The longest living cultures usually consume no more than seven added teaspoons a day.
Buettner elaborates, “Let’s face it: You can’t avoid sugar. It occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, and even milk. But that’s not the problem. Between 1970 and 2000, the amount of added (processed) sugars in the food supply rose 25%. This adds up to about 22 teaspoons of added sugar that the average American consumes daily— insidious, hidden sugars mixed into sodas, yogurts, muffins, and sauces. Too much sugar in our diet has been shown to suppress the immune system, making it harder to fend off diseases. It also spikes insulin levels, which can lead to diabetes and lower fertility, make you fat, and even shorten your life.” 1
Changing eating habits can be challenging for many of us and it takes time and planning. Do not be discouraged and pray that God will help you to accomplish this journey as you walk into this new lifestyle and adopt a new healthy diet. There are many plant based cookbooks, DVDs, and meal planning resources available to purchase in bookstores and online.
Isaiah 65:24 in New Living Translation says, ”I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers.”
May you have an abundant life and good health!
Yin Schaff, Health Ministries Coordinator