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Quick Guide: Blue Zones and Sustainability

There is a lot of hype around color talk these days. I hear phrases like “Going Green”, “Thinking Green” or “Lawns becoming California Gold”. Colors make great adjectives, but who would have thought, colors could be, well, such colorful verbs and nouns. I recently came across the color blue to describe a way of life, as in Blue Zones. This concept was introduced by New York Times best seller, Dan Buettner who traveled the globe to uncover the best strategies for longevity.

He studied places in the world with higher percentages of people living longer and enjoyable lives. In his book, he outlines 9 lifestyle habits (3 of which focus on the food you eat) that could not only make life more fulfilling, but also add years to your life. This intrigued me, because ultimately this style of living focuses on feeding your soul and coming together for a common good. “A Blue Zones Project is a community well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier, through permanent changes to environment, policy, and social networks. Its mission is to lead and ignite community-by-community well-being transformation, where people live and work together in Blue Zones Communities for a better life.” Cities/States Currently Participating: Albert Lea, Minnesota, The Beach Cities, of CaliforniaFort Worth, TexasHawaiiIowaNorth Central IndianaOregon and Southwest Florida.

Nine Power Principles of the Blue Zones

The nine concepts align with Jain‘s mission statement, “Leave this world better than you found it” and also aligns with a large growing number of Americans that are craving a healthy and balanced lifestyle, including me. Here are the 9 Power Principles:

  1. Move Naturallyconsider taking the stairs, doing yard work, gardening or walking around your local Farmer’s Market.
  2. Know your Purpose  the Okinawans call it “ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida”—for both, it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.”
  3. Down Shift  stress causes chronic inflammation. Take time to de-stress, and unplug.
  4. The 80% Rule eat till your stomach is 80% full. This means listening to your body to tell you when you’re are no longer hungry rather than eating till your full.
  5. Plant Slant focus on eating a rich array of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are packed with disease-fighting nutrients. The cornerstone of most centenarian diets is beans; including fava, black, soy and lentils. Also focus on eating nuts—a handful a day can add years.
  6. Wine @ 5 healthy plant compounds and antioxidants found in wine have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and slow the progression of neurological disorders.  Be mindful of your intake, over consumption will have negative effects.
  7. Right Tribe  They say happiness is contagious. Assess who you hang out with, and then proactively surround yourself with the right friends.
  8. Community  whether it is faith based or not, what matters most is that you feel part of a larger group and that you interact with that group regularly.
  9. Loved Ones First  put family first. Take care of each other, young and old.

For more information about Blue Zone Projects near you or to join community groups check out the website. And my favorite- Grow your own community garden and experience the multitude of benefits that come from working with your hands, eating fruits and vegetables and collaborating with neighbors. Hope this inspires you to rethink your definition of blue!

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