For years I have talked with clients about the 5 locations in the world with unusually long lived populations. These living laboratories have developed an approach to life that promotes longevity without the suffering, and societal costs, associated with a large percent of their citizens coping with: obesity, Type II diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. As a result of their lifestyle and dietary choices, many of them live into their 100’s.
Author Dan Buettner long ago discovered the five locations where people lived extraordinarily long lives in good health. Naming these locations Blue Zones, they were: Sardinia [island near Italy], Ikaria [island of Greece], Nicoya [in Costa Rica], Okinawa [island of Japan], and the city of Loma Linda, California [settled by 7th Day Adventists who abstain from alcohol, and are vegetarians or vegans].
Buettner recently announced that Singapore has now been given the honor of joining these remarkable locations that have so much to teach us all. With a diverse population composed of Indians, Malaysians, Chinese, and Eurasians, this tropical island nation, and city-state, has lengthened the life expectancy of its people by 20 years since the 1960’s, and the number of its centenarians has doubled in the last decade. Polls report a very high sense of life satisfaction among its people.
One cannot help but notice that nearly all of the Blue Zones are islands, which means those populations consume a great deal of fish and seafood. Those in the Mediterranean also consume a great deal of pasta and rice, and their climate yields an abundance of delicious vegetables and fruits. Singapore’s Asian/Indian/Malaysian roots lead their people to use noodles, or rice as the traditional starches in their meals. Their tropical climate yields wonderful produce.
The government of Singapore has deliberately fostered inter-generational relationships, designed municipalities to encourage walking, and moving mindlessly, to burn calories and foster communication among its people. This is social engineering with a social conscience. The goal is to have fewer sedentary, lonely people while encouraging healthier food choices, thus promoting a sense of security and well-being…all of which leads to longer lived citizens.
We have so much to learn from the remarkable people who live in the Blue Zones, and the pay-off could lead to longer, healthier, and happier lives for those of us who are open to exploring new approaches to interacting with each other, while we eat a satisfying, plant-based, diet.
Dateline: Town of Colonie, Albany County, New York’s Capital Region