There have been many studies about the diets of the world’s populations with the longest life spans. Similar food and dietary habits are shared by the long-living inhabitants of these regions: the Greek island of Ikaria, Sardinia; the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and Okinawa, Japan. These regions are referred to by researcher Dan Buettner as Blue Zones. Here are 14 diet tips from the world’s healthiest and longest-living communities:
1. 95% Plants
The world’s longest living people eat mostly fresh produce, whole grains and beans, all year long. Leafy greens are the most ideal of all vegetable varieties. In Ikaria, more than 75 varieties of vegetables grow locally.
2. Meat 2X
Meat should be eaten rarely, at a maximum of two ounces, five times a month. Of course, chicken is a better option than red meat. Very often, the meat eaten in the world’s long-life areas comes from animals that graze freely and are raised without chemicals and antibiotics.
3. Something fishy
A study conducted by Adventist Health, which followed 96,000 Americans for over a decade, found that individuals who ate a plant-based diet with small portions of fish lived the longest. In all of the longevity regions, fish is a staple product.
4. Dairy myth
Whoever began the myth that dairy milk is healthy for humans was way off. The human digestive system isn’t designed to process cow’s milk. In the world’s longevity regions, calcium comes from plants, tofu and nuts. The one exception is goat and sheep milk products – common in the traditional diets of Ikaria and Sardinia.
5. Eggs in moderation
Eat an egg one at a time, like people in Japan. One egg at breakfast can be accompanied by fruit and whole grain bread.
6. Beans (for farts and hearts)
Beans are one of the main components of all long-life diets. Beans contain an impressive amount of protein and carbohydrates, and only a little fat. They’re also high in fiber, which will help you pass gas and bowel movements nicely. Eat at least a half cup of any bean per day.
7. Certain breads
Sourdough bread and 100% whole grain breads, including wheat, rye and barley are acceptable – unlike most of the bread people eat these days.
8. Eliminate sugar
The longest-living people in the world consume 1/5 the amount of sugar an average westerner does. Eliminate as much sugar as possible from all over your diet.
9. Go nuts
A 30-year-long Harvard study found that nut eaters live longer than others. Eat up to 100 grams per day of walnuts, pistachios or cashews.
10. Eat foods that don’t come in a bag
Eat food that appears in the supermarket as it did in nature. Avoid products with long lists of ingredients (which are usually synthetic).
11. Drink more water
Completely abandon sugar-filled beverages, as if they could give you severe herpes.
12. Alcohol = red wine only
Residents of the world’s longevity areas drink 1-3 glasses of red wine per day – this assists the body to absorb plant-based antioxidants and reduce stress.
13. Tea time
People in Okinawa, Japan drink green tea all day long. Ikarians drink brews of rosemary, wild sage and dandelion.
14. Caffeine = coffee
People in the islands of Sardinia and Ikaria drink a lot of coffee. Studies have shown connections between coffee drinking and lower rates of dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
You can learn more about the Blue Zones here.