• thegoodfoodclinic

The Blue Zone Diet



Not ANOTHER diet! No. You won’t have to only consume blue foods! Not a diet characterised by rules with regimented eating times and restriction, rather a collection of specific areas in the world that have gained recognition for their longevity and low rates of chronic illness! Dan Buettner, the founder of the Blue Zones, tapped into this undeniable connection between environment, food and health, well before any Instagram influencers claim. He and his team studied these areas to find similar specific lifestyle habits and environments that contributed to these areas entertaining the highest number of centenarians and lowest rates of mortality and disease.


  • Okinawa, Japan

  • Sardinia, Italy

  • Nicoya, Costa Rica

  • Ikaria, Greece

  • Loma Linda, California

To be exact, 9 specific common factors are found to link these areas together and lead to their collective recognition as “Blue Zones”. These are referred to as the Power 9 Principles. These 9 principles regarded so highly, United States policy makers, local businesses and schools have been implementing them to curate healthy communities (Buettner, et al., 2016). The perfect 9 ingredient recipe to help these people live longer, healthier lives:


1. Move naturally

2. Know your purpose

3. Down shift

4. 80% Rule

5. Plant slant

6. Wine @ five

7. Right tribe

8. Belong

9. Loved ones first


Move naturally, easy right?People in these areas don’t join gyms, they move with purpose. They live in areas where they are able to walk to get groceries and see their friends, they garden and they don’t take the escalators.


Know your purpose & down shift. Self-love has blown up in the last 2 years, thankfully too. The importance of knowing your worth and waking up in the morning with purpose and motivation is said to add up to seven years to your life. In Okinawa and Ikaria, they have a phrase that translates in both languages to “why I wake up in the morning”. Knowing your purpose and worth involves embracing who you are and what you bring, something that has been lost in a sea of conformity and social constructs over the years. Equally as important, the notion of down shifting. Stress goes hand in hand with chronic illness, and having the ability to implement routines to shred some stress every day is proving beneficial for blue zones. Taking daily naps, having happy hour and taking a moment to remember their ancestors… sign me up!


It is no shock that a huge part of these 9 principles is diet related. If we take a look at what people in these areas are consuming we should uncover the secret to the ideal diet, right? The answer is probably one you’ve heard before and one you might’ve swept to the curb in search of a ‘quicker/easier’ option… it’s balance. They eat predominantly plant based, consume a moderate amount of alcohol and they eat until they are 80% full. Putting this to daily practise involves eating mindfully, focusing on taste, texture and satiety with every bite.


Dare I say it out loud, meat is rarely consumed... We, as Aussies, love our meat. No secret we tend to learn towards animal products as a foundation for our meals, while individuals in blue zones consume meat approximately 5 times a month. Lentils, soy, fava beans and black beans are the cornerstone of blue zone diets, along with a large variety of fruits and vegetables full of disease fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals.


The final 3 principles focus on interactions with people around us. The right tribe relates to strong social circles that facilitate and support healthy behaviours and habits, a direct reflection of the social determinants of health. There’s something to be said for one’s personality reflecting the company they keep and Okinawans commit to each other for life. This is referred to as Moai; lifelong friends that offer social, financial, health and spiritual support.



Belong is exactly what it sounds like, belonging to a group, whether that be of faith, sports, clubs or a group of like-minded individuals. A sense of belonging ignites a powerful experience of companionship and acceptance, an experience said to add years to your life! If you’re unsure where to start, reach out to friends and family to see what’s around.


Finishing with my favourite, and one we can again easily lose sight when imbalanced. Family come first. Prioritising your loved ones and keeping them close with consistent connection can lower mortality and disease rates. Blue zones keep parents and grandparents nearby, they choose a life partner and provide for their children. While this may seem difficult living in a society where moving overseas and interstate is very common, we are lucky enough to live in a time of technology and now the world knows how to zoom!


This isn’t to say this a “perfect” way of living for you, nor is it a list on how to live your life. These are 9 fundamental principles originating from hundreds of thousands of years of life before westernisation, fad diets and machines, social media and netflix. How we adapt and find balance between participating in today’s society and modern technology, and incorporating these principles will shape the future of our health.


Read more:


Blue Zones:

https://www.bluezones.com/


Social Determinants of Health:

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/social-determinants-of-health

 

By Georgia Lamrock, Student Clinical Nutritionist @tasteful_tucker

References

Buettner, D., Skemp, S., & Frates, B. (2016, 09). Blue Zones: Lessons From the World's Longest Lived. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 10(5), 318-321.


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