Raise your hands if you want to live a healthy long life.
Great – that’s just about everyone!
There are more pro-longevity agents in the world than you could ever imagine and probably more than science can discover in the next 50 years. But many of these agents are here now, right in front of our faces, in the form of plants, oils, proteins, foods, and other dietary substances.
To me, the most compelling evidence for the power of food and diet to combat aging comes from Dan Buettner, a National Geographic explorer and writer who has investigated the health secrets of centenarians living in pockets of the world where people rarely get sick and live to be 100 years old or more. Buettner’s research into places like Okinawa, Costa Rica, Italy, Greece, and even southern California led him to his 2008 book,The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from People Who’ve Lived the Longest.
Although the dietary patterns of Blue Zones vary, the common denominator is that these populations eat a high percentage of plant-based, whole foods, along with healthy fats – similar to the dietary principles of my Keto-Green® diet.
In Okinawa, for example, the people typically focus on garlic (great for detoxification), tofu (a good vegetarian protein), and lots of vegetables. I’ve always advised shunning processed, additive- and sugar-laced foods for health and longevity because of the pro-aging substances they contain.
I love the fact that the Okinawans recite a 2500-year old Confucian mantra before meals that reminds them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full.
The Nicoyan diet in Costa Rica practices the much of the same – no processed foods but plenty of emphasis on chicken, fish, and vegetables that come from farm to fork. They have another unique secret: alkaline water that’s rich in calcium and magnesium-rich water, which wards off heart disease and promotes strong bones. Does any of this sound familiar?
In the Mediterranean Blue Zones of Sardinia, Italy, and Ikaria, Greece, people enjoy olive oil – often cited as a healthy way to increase life expectancy – along with fresh veggies. Both are important on my Keto-Green diet too.
Closer to home is Loma Linda, California, where these Blue Zone residents eat lots of healthy vegetables, plus leafy greens, which are rich in cancer-busting nutrients, as well as vitamins, minerals, fiber. This community outlives the average American by a decade.
This amazing benefit is why it makes excellent sense to boost your intake of cancer-preventing, hormone-balancing cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, as well as nuts and seeds.
People in all Blue Zones (except Loma Linda) drink alcohol moderately and regularly, too. Moderate drinkers outlive nondrinkers. The trick is to drink 1 to 2 glasses daily (preferably low-sugar wine), with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t save up all week and have 14 drinks on Saturday night! The antioxidants in wine are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, however I believe the power of having friends and family around the table toasting and laughing and sharing life is even way more powerful than the resveratrol in the wine. Ahh, the power of oxytocin.
Writing in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine in 2016, Buettner relates the miraculous story of one Ikarian, who moved to America when he was 22 years old to pursue the American dream. He became a successful painter, bought a house, married, and had three children. At the age of 66 years, he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Instead of dying in America, he decided to return to Ikaria to live with his parents. He started breathing the air, drinking the wine, and eating a Mediterranean diet. After a few months, he planted a garden, not planning on ever getting to harvest the vegetables. Thirty-seven years later, he had a vineyard producing loads of wine a year. His secret, he told Buettner: “I just forgot to die.”
This story reminds me of my dad and the longevity-boosting power of a Keto-Green/Blue Zones. He was with us for an amazing 91 years until he passed away in 2017. But we almost lost him 12 years earlier, when doctors were ready to write him off at age 79 due to his diabetes, weight, and declining health.
I knew he still had a long, productive life ahead of him, so I put him on an early version of my Keto-Green® diet – which was a total upgrade to the unhealthy way he had been eating. Dad started enjoying many more veggies, in all varieties and colors. In fact, vegetables and greens became the centerpiece of his diet – which helped his body get into an alkaline and fat-burning state. He went on to lose 30 pounds in 30 days, decrease his daily insulin from 100 units to only 20 units and live another twelve very good years, actively and productively, with a quality of life that surpassed even his youngest brother’s.
So I know Keto-Green/Blue Zones eating is a fountain of youth!
There’s more to a Blue Zones lifestyle than just diet – factors such as faith, community, and physical activity (I cover these in my blog and couch talk Birthdays, Blue Zones & Being Better – check these out). But the best starting place is to go Keto-Green®. It forms the foundation that will help you live at your fullest capacity until the end of your life.
So … see you at 100!