The 6 Golden Rules of Eating for Longevity, According to the Longest-Living People on Earth
Elderly Couples Playing and eating some fruit
Modeling your lifestyle and eating habits after people who live in Blue Zones is just one way to increase your longevity.
The Blue Zones are the five areas of the world that have the longest-living and healthiest populations: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California. It was found that they had nine things in common, including some of the ways they eat, despite thousand of miles between them.
While a lot of their longevity success comes down to where and how they live, there are some key dietary takeaways that can be applied to an American lifestyle without too much work. In a seminar hosted by the Global Wellness Summit, Dan Buettner, a journalist and expert on Blue Zones, shared some of his top longevity nutrition tips gleaned from years of researching how these communities live. Here are the main takeaways:
1. They drink wine after 5 p.m., ideally with friends and a meal
“There’s plenty of evidence in Blue Zones that a couple glasses a day, especially with friends and with a meal… probably lowers your mortality,” Buettner says. (In fact, four out of the five Blue Zones communities drink alcohol in moderation as part of their lifestyle.)
Justice for carbs! Buettner says that people living in Blue Zones typically consume about 65 percent of their daily calories in the form of carbs. Which makes sense: the macronutrient typically comes paired with lots of fiber (great for gut health) along with vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function at its best.
But it’s important to remember that not all carbs are created equal, and people in Blue Zones are getting this macronutrient mostly from sources like grains, greens, tubers, nuts, and beans. (Read: Not the super processed stuff.) There’s one carb that beats all the rest: beans. “The longevity all-star food is beans,” Buettner says. “So if you’re eating about a cup of beans a day, it’s probably worth an extra four years of the life expectancy.”
These are beverage choices I can fully get behind. Buettner says people in Blue Zones drink six glasses of water a day, plus coffee in the morning and a glass of wine with dinner. Missing is sugary beverages, like soda, which has been shown to negatively impact your health.
6. They practice modified forms of intermittent fasting
But no, that doesn’t mean they’re dieters. Rather, Buettner says that people in Blue Zones communities typically eat in ways that are similar to what we could call intermittent fasting. “They breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper, and they tend to eat all their calories in an eight hour window, leaving 16 hours for their digestive systems to rest,” Buettner says. Basically, their largest meal is breakfast, their smallest one is dinner, and they don’t eat late into the night. (And it comes with lots of potential longevity-related benefits.) However, this is not an eating plan for everyone, especially if you are recovering from an illness, pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive, or have a history of eating disorders.