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To live well and for a long time it is necessary to keep in mind this checklist: good food (fresh and vegetable foods), less stress (for example through yoga and meditation), more movement (even just walking) and more love (giving more importance to social relationships and to the community to which they belong). These four key things are highlighted in a study of the University of California San Francisco's Preventive Medicine Research Institute. The research shows that these profound lifestyle changes bring numerous benefits. Dean Ornish who is its founder and president explains how changing lifestyle means changing the way genes work: it means using the genes that keep us in good health and deactivating those that favor cardiovascular disease, diabetes, prostate and breast cancer.
The good news is that data on the lifestyle choices that lead to longevity in the world's Blue Zones has been collected in Dan Buettner's research. He has collaborated with the National Geographic Society, spending 10 years researching these longest-lived areas of the planet.
The importance of nutrition for a long and healthy life is certainly not new: scientific studies show that our life expectancy is only 10% influenced by genetic factors and 90% by lifestyle. Buettner states that if the average American followed the eating practices adopted in the blue zones, he could earn as much as 15 years of life! To ensure that other blue zones are created in the world and to help citizens find their way around the issue, Buettner, starting from the analysis of more than 150 food studies, has created the Blue Zone Diet.
The incidence of serious diseases can be drastically reduced by modifying some behaviors and by focusing on the so-called "functional foods". In Sardinia, an island in Italy, the number of centenarians is surprising and the concept of active aging is based precisely on this phenomenon. What are the secrets for reaching over 100 years of health?
Blue Zones, the parts of the world that are home to the most centenarians, include the Greek island Icaria, the Japanese Okinawa, the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica, the community in Loma Linda in California, and, of course, Sardinia. On this beautiful Italian island, there are magical corners where the inhabitants arrive and often easily pass the milestone of 100 years. Indeed, in the village of Seulo, in Barbagia, 20 centenarians were counted between 1996 and 2016, confirming itself as the longest-lived town in the world!
Some tips from these Blue Zones: Consume plenty of plant foods at each meal; prefer vegetable fats such as those from olives, walnuts, almonds and fruit a shell; prefer wholemeal bread and flour; choose legumes, eggs, cheeses and, to a lesser extent, and eat fish as sources of protein. It is also important that foods are not very refined.
A very important habit of long-lived people, which science is examining today,
is the frugality of the diet. This is an intervention that involves the reduction of calorie intake, always paying attention to maintaining adequate nutrition. The first studies performed on humans in this regard show an improvement in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and some types of cancer.
These beneficial effects could be explained because most of the biochemical mechanisms related to calorie restriction involve some proteins, called sirtuins, which protect the body from environmental stress, improve aging, prevent tumors, counteract the metabolic syndrome, reduce adipose tissue, and prevent neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease. From some recent studies, it appears that these proteins and these beneficial mechanisms can be activated, in addition to caloric restriction, by resveratol, a substance also present in red wine. This result would explain why a common feature of the centenarian's diet is also a moderate consumption of red wine.
The Longevity Diet or Blue Zone Diet
The Blue Zone diet is a longevity diet based on a few simple rules: eat very few animal proteins, consume daily portions of whole foods or legumes, keep snacks not too high in calories, and try to avoid processed products as much as possible.
The Blue zone diet is not a weight loss plan, but many people can lose weight by following it, so it is a diet that reduces the risk of being overweight or obese. If following these tips you lose too much weight, it is advisable to increase the amount of food. Let's see the general rules.
BLUE ZONE DIET OR LONGEVITY DIET
Do some workout aimed at feeling good, not losing weight or burning calories
Dietary guidelines: the diet must include 65% carbohydrates, 15% protein and 20% fat.
LONGEVITY DIET: EXAMPLE PLAN
Breakfast: Whole Wheat Toast, two teaspoons of fruit compote, 200 ml of rice, oat or almond milk without sugar, coffee or tea of your choice, a portion of goat yogurt or an organic egg, a fruit.
Lunch: a portion of grain cereals or alternatively whole-grain pasta or rice or a portion of potatoes or a portion of bread with sourdough.
A portion of legumes or alternatively 70-80 grams of fish. 150 grams of vegetables of your choice. Two teaspoons of oil per meal. Herbs and spices. A fruit.
Dinner: a vegetable cream or a mixed salad or a steamed vegetable dish + 30 grams of walnuts of your choice or alternatively 80 grams of white meat and 10 grams of walnuts of your choice or alternatively a piece of pecorino and 10 grams of walnuts of your choice + two teaspoons of oil for seasoning. One glass of wine allowed. A fruit.
Snacks: in case of hunger it is recommended to eat one of the fruits in the middle of the day or raw vegetables.
During the day, unsweetened tea and herbal teas, citrus or orange juices, unsweetened almond milk are recommended.
It is possible to add a sweet with a maximum of 100 calories, natural and homemade or alternatively 3 abundant teaspoons of honey for sweetening.
Vegetables can be flavored with olives, sunflower seeds, etc.