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What Makes a Blue Zone Special?

What Makes a Blue Zone Special?

Have you heard of “Blue Zones”? No, they’re not places where everyone is a Democrat. They’re places in the world where there is an unusually high number of people living into their 90’s and even 100’s. Specifically, these people are relatively healthy in their old age. These populations are known for having lower instances of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. It’s not that they have special technologies, or the best doctors, or special genes – it’s thought to be their lifestyle. These “Blue Zones” are found all the around the world: The Italian island of Sardinia, Okinawa in Japan, Loma Linda in California, Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, and the Greek island of Ikaria were the first to be identified. So, what makes a Blue Zones special?

Plant-Based Diet

People who live in blue zones tend to eat less meat and more vegetables, fruits legumes, and nuts. People on the islands on Sardinia and Ikaria have diets rich in fish, which is associated with slower brain decline and a lower risk of heart disease.[1] Many of the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda do not eat meat. Many Americans hear that they should eat less meat and processed food, but don’t necessarily hear what to replace these with. Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils are rich in protein.

Active Lifestyle

It’s not that there are more gyms in Blue Zones, it’s that people have more activity built into their everyday lives through walking, gardening, hiking, and doing daily chores. For example, people in Sardinia who raise animals in mountainous regions have a walk far to work, and have to climb steeper slopes.[2] It’s often hard to built exercise into your daily routine if you work full-time, but having more free time to get in shape is one of the things to love about retirement.

Enough Sleep

You may have seen studies that suggest that not getting enough sleep, or too much sleep, can increase the risk of heart disease or stroke.[3] In Blue Zones, people tend not to go to sleep and wake up at rigidly set hours. Instead their sleep is more tied to how tired they feel, and can include short daytime naps.

If you’re thinking about your desired retirement lifestyle, consider ways in which you can make healthier choices. If you plan on living into your 90’s or even 100’s, financial planning can become even more important. To learn more about ways to help make your savings last as long as you do, you can schedule a complimentary review with the professionals at Epstein & White. We can help you create a comprehensive retirement plan that takes your longevity risk into account in case your household becomes a miniature Blue Zone.

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