This week I am continuing our 9 week Blue Zones Series. For 9 weeks we have covered the 9 different patterns (The Power 9) that help centenarians live and thrive longer. This is the last week of the series!
If you missed last week's blog on the Power Of Portion Control, go check it out!
>>Read It Here<<
This week and last week are both on food! If you're interested in eating a Blue Zones diet I highly recommend checking out the Blue Zones Kitchen cookbook.
Last week we talked about portion control. Not the diet program but simply eating smaller portions of food. This is step one of eating like a Blue Zones centenarian.
Step one was the how and now step two is the what. It is necessary to know about both.
What we see in the Blue Zones is a mostly plant-based way of eating. We see a lot of foods such as freshly grown vegetables, fruits, beans, tofu, potatoes, sweet potatoes, nuts, grains, and barley, etc. Some of the Blue Zones eat dairy from their own animals (not store bought), and on average no more than 3-4 servings of meat per month. In many places, historically, meat was unattainable, like in Sardinia where many people lived in the mountains.
For many centenarians, this was the most accessible way of eating. They grew up having gardens and eating only what they could grow or raise themselves. Before roads and restuarants, access to many types of foods such as meat and dairy products was limited. Then as these things started popping up many of them just continued to eat the way they always had because that was what they knew (and it had worked out pretty well so far).
It's not a secret that a plant-based diet is one of the most healthy ways of eating for you.
With statistics such as eating a plant-based diet reduces your risk of heart disease by 55% and it's the only diet to ever have been shown to reverse the risk, and people who eat meat have a 75% increased risk of death from all causes and a 400-500% increase risk of death from most forms of cancer and type 2 diabetes, it's not hard to see why centenarians have such low rates of all of these things.
Interested in getting more fruits and vegetables into your body each day? Download my free resources How To Add More Plants To Your Day right here!
Plant-based diets have been shown to reduce your blood pressure, your risk of hypertension, and your cholesterol levels therefore, reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer often caused by the above factors. Meat eaters have a higher risk due to the saturated fat contained in meat.
Furthermore, most fruits and vegetables have a low glycemic index meaning their sugars are released slowly into the body. This can help control your weight and help control your blood sugar levels. When the sugars are released slowly the body can metabolize it better and you don't get the sugar crash that comes from high glycemic foods.
Did you know a plant-based diet made up of fresh whole foods has a lower impact on the environment than an animal-based diet. Currently the livestock and animal agriculture industries have one of the highest environmental impacts due to the practices commonly used.
Here are a couple of ways that a plant-based diet reduces your impact on the environment:
A study done by the Journal Of The American Heart Association showed that those who eat a plant-based diet "long term" reduce their risk of all causes of mortality by 25-30% (other studies have shown higher numbers as well).
Research in the Blue Zones supports this idea that plant-based diets help with longevity. In all five Blue Zones we see a plant-based (or mostly plant-based) diet that stemmed the entire lifespan of the centenarians being studied.
This idea is supported with the above evidence that plant-based diets reduce your risk of heart disease, stoke, cancer, dementia, Alzheimers, diabetes, etc. All of which are leading causes of death in most places.
As mentioned above plant-based diets can help reduce your risk of Dementia and Alzheimers. But more than just that a 2017 study in Frontiers In Aging Neuroscience showed that eating an extra 100g of fruits and vegetables everyday actually helped reverse the cognitive decline in Alzheimers patients.
In the Blue Zones there are strikingly low rates of Dementia and Alzheimers. Tests done on over 300 centenarians in the five Blue Zones showed that roughly 75-85% of centenarians could pass a cognitive test with higher accuracy than than individuals 10-20 years younger than them (Down To Earth).
Many people feel that plant-based diet leave you void of particular nutrients and that only animal-rich diets can provide them such as, iron, B6, B12, or particular amino acids, etc. However, this is incorrect.
If you eat a whole foods plant-based diet with a lot of variety in the foods you eat you can actually get all of those nutrients (and even more). Many people who eat animal-based diets tend to not get the same variety as a plant-based diet. They tend to stick with the same foods meal after meal, especially if they meal prep. I'm not saying meal prep is bad but if you eat the same lunch and dinner for the entire week chances are you aren't getting the full spectrum of nutrients your body requires.
Animals are the middle man for most nutrients, including protein. Think about what your cow eats in a day... Mostly grass. Plants provide a much more direct sources for the nutrients your body requires without the cholesterol spike.
This being said:
You cannot simply cut out meat and think you'll be good. As well, plant-based diets can be made up of mostly unhealthy and processed foods.
The trick is you need to look for whole, local, and fresh produce. Get most of your calories from the actual whole foods themselves. Furthermore, when you can support local and organic farmers.
When you buy regular produce, without the organic stamp, you are supporting non-regenerative agriculture practices that are destroying our planets top soil. Non-regenerative agriculture uses farming practices such as, tilling the land and a heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers that have destroyed our soils biodiversity. This is a heavy contributor to the Carbon Dioxide that currently stuck in the atmosphere.
Regenerative farms help restore the soils biodiversity, which helps with bio-sequestration. This is where the CO2 in the atmosphere is pulled back into the soil to be used to support the soils ecosystem (in other words, where the CO2 belongs).
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