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Lifestyle, diet, genetics and the environment we live in are just some the factors that may all have a role in determining our longevity.
With one in three of todays’ babies expected to live until their 100th birthday – according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – many are now searching for the perfect formula that will take us seamlessly through from childhood all the way through to being a centenarian.
And this is exactly the subject that was discussed in a recent episode of Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s Feel Better.Live More podcast. The physician, TV presenter and health and wellness advocate discussed The Secret to a Long and Happy life with National Geographic Fellow and New York Times-bestselling author Dan Buettner.
Buettner discovered the so-called Blue Zones – the five places around the globe where people live the longest and healthiest lives – and opened up about some of the common things that people in locations stretching from Okinawa in Japan to Loma Linda, California, do to promote their health and wellbeing.
Blue Zones Diet: what do they eat?
Honing in on diet, he revealed that the majority of those living in Blue Zones adopt a largely plant-based, minimally processed diet that includes a high proportion of complex carbohydrates and a small amount of fish, meat and fats.
He revealed that beans – in a number of varieties – are, “ the cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world”, and feature heavily in the menus of Blue Zone residents throughout their lives, with recipes on how to make this low-fat, high-fibre, low-cost protein source flavoursome passed down through the generations.
Expanding further he said, “In Blue Zones they know how to make beans sing…adding fennel, and extra virgin olive oil, beautiful red onions. A Sardinian minestrone [incorporates] five different beans.”
The idea that beans have health-promoting properties is also supported by research. One scientific analysis of a long-term study revealed that when compared to those who don’t eat beans, bean eaters had higher average intakes of dietary fibre, potassium, magnesium, iron, and copper, a 23 per cent reduced risk of increased waist size and a 22 per cent reduced risk of being obese.
He also went on to outline what he discovered to be the four additional pillars of every longevity diet in the world. These are as follows:
Wholegrains: corn, wheat, rice
Nuts: all varieties
Tubers: which includes sweet potatoes and yams
Greens: with some blue zones eating, “80 to 90 different varieties of greens,” according to Buettner.
Would you consider adapting your diet to include items that feature most frequently in the Blue Zones?