What is the secret to a long, healthy and happy life? Well Dan Buettner in his book Blue Zones explores this. He looks at communities across the globe that regularly live beyond 100 years old. From Okinawa, Japan to Adventist Colonies in California these communities tend to share common traits that can be responsible for not only a longer life but also a better quality of life. Most interestingly out of all these traits there is very little emphasis on ideal body weight or shape. Far too often what makes us thin distracts us from what actually makes us healthy. 

Healthy Habits from Around the World

Although these communities are all very different culturally and geographically many share common behavioural traits such as  

Eat more fat:

Nuts and seeds in Adventist Colonies, Greeks from Ikaria cooking with Olive Oil and Sardinians eating grass feed Pecorino cheese. These communities tend to eat plenty of fat in their everyday diet. They don’t fear naturally occurring fats as they are essential to cell regeneration and repair. 

Eat lots of Plants:

Adventists are predominately vegetarians, the health benefits of Mediterranean diet are well publicized and the Japanese eat predominately stir-fried vegetables. Don’t think of what you can’t eat focus on what you can eat. Aim for at least 3 colours of vegetables with every meal. Calories doesn’t give you perspective on the nutrient value of your food, to thrive we need a diversity of nutrients that are found predominately in vegetables. 

Be Social:

connection to friends and family are central to all of these communities, with elders seen as central to the social fabric. It the connection to each other that also provides people a greater sense of purpose in these communities. Put down the devices and be present in social settings with friends and family. Join a community group which you share common beliefs, whether it be a sporting or volunteer group, get connected. 

Move Everyday:

Walking up to 10 000 steps a day is common in all of these groups. A recent study of 334 000 Europeans has found walking for just 20 minutes a day can decrease your risk of premature death by 16-30%. 

Following these simple principles you can add years to your life and life to your years.