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The diet of longevity

These food preferences serve as metabolic boosters, providing a wealth of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, reducing inflammation and infections, lowering blood pressure, alkalising the body, promoting heart, gut, and overall health. For those looking to incorporate the Blue Zone diet into their lives, Thakkar advises, “Always begin with combining animal sources of food with plant-based sources, keeping the ratio of 1:2 initially. One can then start replacing animal sources with plant-based food sources, ensuring the change is gradual. For beginners, small changes like having plant-based snacks can be a practical option. The inclusion of unprocessed soy like edamame, seeds, lentils, pulses, and sprouts can provide the daily dose of essential proteins.”

Eating It Right

Research suggests that a strong mechanism behind the longevity and reduction of fatal diseases in Blue Zone people is the anti-inflammatory benefits of their dietary choices.

Along with eating right, one must also focus on eating the right way. The diet focuses on how you eat and what you eat. Okinawans stop eating when they are 80 per cent full. Dr Manju P George, Clinical Nutritionist and Chief Dietician at VPS Lakeshore, Kochi, remarks, “Mindful eating, whereby one consumes and stops or modifies eating wilfully without compulsion, is an ideal practice for our regular approach to food. It keeps us stress-free and helps to maintain hormonal balance—bringing out the best in ourselves.”

Find Your Ikigai

It is important to note that Blue Zone isn’t just a specific diet. It is a lifestyle in itself, that embraces plant-based food products, simple, wholesome ingredients, and mindful practices like stress management, community support, and regular movement. Health and wellness coach and nutritional therapist Divya Suhaney explains, “Blue Zone communities often emphasise strong social connections. People in these areas tend to live as close-knit groups where members support each other.

They consider social interaction an essential aspect of well-being, contributing to reduced stress levels and a sense of belonging. Additionally, having a sense of purpose, or ikigai (a term associated with Blue Zones in Japan) is considered crucial for overall well-being. This involves having a reason to get up in the morning, whether it’s work, family, or a personal passion. A clear sense of purpose promotes better mental and emotional health.”

Vocal For Local

The concept of the Blue Zone diet emphasises the importance of local cultures and indigenous wisdom. Drawing a parallel, Suhaney elaborates, “Ayurveda, one of the oldest holistic healing systems, similarly encompasses a comprehensive approach to well-being that goes beyond just diet. Ayurveda supports a predominantly plant-based diet, focusing on fresh, in-season fruits and home-cooked vegetables, to support the body’s natural balance and vitality.” It makes more sense to eat what is locally available and practice what our ancestors preached.”

It is important to understand that the Blue Zone diet comprises habits from across the world and originates in different contexts. Hence, there can be no one-size-fits-all solution, cautions Suhaney. She adds, “Adopting the principles of Blue Zones allows for customisation based on individual circumstances. Ultimately, it’s about identifying elements that align with your personal needs and cultural practices” The name “blue zones” comes from the blue pens scientists who undertook the original survey to mark the villages where longevous populations lived. With Nature as its core, the Blue Zone diet is best followed by going green.

Lessons in longevity

● The Blue-Zone diet focuses mostly on eating plant-based foods

● The food preferences serve as metabolic boosters providing a wealth of fibre, vitamins and minerals

● Meat and dairy can be part of the Blue-Zone diet but in restricted amounts

● This diet helps in reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure and promotes gut health

● It promotes minimalistic usage of refined and processed products

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