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It is well-proven that cutting certain elements like refined sugar, fast food, and processed meats out of our diets has a beneficial effect on our overall health. Did you know that what you choose to include in your diet may actually be more important to positively impact longevity?

Researchers conducted studies in five geographic regions with a higher than average number of people living to 100 years or more to see if they could establish a link between diet and lifestyle, on the one hand, and long life, on the other. They called these areas in Asia, Latin America, the U.S., and Europe “Blue Zones.” The researchers found that not only were these centenarians much more physically active than typical populations, but their dietary patterns were similar as well, despite the fact that each zone was located in a different part of the world.[1]

These regions’ diets resemble “traditional” diets, prior to the introduction of highly processed foods chock full of sugar, salt, additives and preservatives. These Blue Zone food regimes are relatively meat- and dairy-free, instead emphasizing vegetables and fruits. Moreover, there are four common ingredients among all the zones: beans, greens, grains and nuts (including seeds.) The researchers concluded that in addition to daily exercise, these four foods play a part in increasing longevity.

As a result, they recommend four “always” groups of food to include in your daily diet:

  1. 100% whole grains, including brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, cornmeal, farro and bulgur: One cup per day
  2. Nuts and seeds: A handful per day
  3. Beans, legumes and pulses: One cup per day
  4. Fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy greens: 5-10 servings a day[2]

What’s not included in the Blue Zone diets? There is an obvious lack of packaged candy and cookies, processed meats, salty snacks, and sugary drinks.[3]

In addition, the researchers found theses long-living populations practice these lifestyle habits:

  1. Stop eating when your stomach is 80% full. This helps avoid weight gain.
  2. Eat the smallest meal of the day in the late afternoon or evening.
  3. Drink alcohol moderately.[4]

And — don’t forget to have “beans and greens, nuts and grains” daily!

By following these simple rules, you may just be able to eat your way to a longer life.

[1] Blue Zones Life: Four Always, Four to Avoid. Blue Zones.com. Retrieved from https://www.bluezones.com/four-best-foods-four-worst-foods-blue-zones-life/.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Barclay, E. (2015, April 11). Eating to Break 100: Longevity Diet Tips from the Blue Zone. NPR.org. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/04/11/398325030/eating-to-break-100-longevity-diet-tips-from-the-blue-zones.

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