According to many years of longevity research by Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones, “Blue Zones” are areas in which people have low rates of disease and enjoy longer lifespans. On average, people who live in Blue Zones live 7-10 years longer than the rest of the world’s population. Here are a few food lessons we can learn from Blue Zone inhabitants:
1) Plant Slant. The majority of the people living in a Blue Zone adopt a predominantly plant-based diet. They eat a variety of fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and consume lower amounts of processed foods. When meat is eaten, most eat a lean meat, such as fish and venison.
2) Diminish Dairy. Blue Zone inhabitants minimize their consumption of cow’s milk and dairy products such as cheese, cream, and butter. Dan Buettner explains:
Arguments against milk often focus on its high fat and sugar content. Neal Barnard, the founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, points out that 49% of the calories in whole milk and about 70% of the calories in cheese come from fat—and that much of this fat is saturated. All milk has lactose sugar as well. About 55% of the calories in skim milk come from lactose sugar, for example.
While Americans have relied on milk for calcium and protein for decades, in the Blue Zones diet people get these nutrients from plant-based sources. One cup of cooked kale or two-thirds of a cup of tofu, for instance, provides just as much bioavailable calcium as a cup of milk (1).
3) More Natural & Less Processed Sugar. The longest living cultures usually consume no more than seven added teaspoons a day. Buettner elaborates:
Let’s face it: You can’t avoid sugar. It occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, and even milk. But that’s not the problem. Between 1970 and 2000, the amount of added (processed) sugars in the food supply rose 25%. This adds up to about 22 teaspoons of added sugar that the average American consumes daily—insidious, hidden sugars mixed into sodas, yogurts, muffins, and sauces. Too much sugar in our diet has been shown to suppress the immune system, making it harder to fend off diseases. It also spikes insulin levels, which can lead to diabetes and lower fertility, make you fat, and even shorten your life (1).
For many of us, changing our eating habits can be very challenging! We, at LifeMed Clinic, want to help you in your journey toward eating a delicious and healthy diet. We have plant-based cookbooks, DVDs, and meal planning resources available for free to our members at our office. Also, we have added a talented dietician, Crystal Whitten, to our staff who can help tailor a plan that works for you. Our dietician fee is only $60 per hour (about 25%-40% less than market rate) for patient members.
May you enjoy abundant health,
Rick Christman, MPH