Have you heard of Blue Zones and The Power 9?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s not a combination of a Vegas show with the latest modern Super Heroes. But that does sound fun.

Blue Zones are areas located around the globe that have the most centenarians. And not just 100+ year olds on life support. We’re talking active, good quality of life seniors with lower rates of chronic disease.

These 5 areas are located in: Loma Linda, California (highest concentration of Seventh Day Adventists); Nicoya, Costa Rica; Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece and Sardinia, Italy.

What are the common denominators that all 5 of these areas have? My first thought was no winters reminiscent of growing up in Buffalo. My second was abundant fish and seafood. It appears I was wrong. 

Thankfully Dan Buettner from National Geographic and a team of researchers have done the leg work for us figuring out the why behind this phenomenon. They discovered 9 evidence based common denominators, thus The Power 9. 

The Power 9 include:

  1. Move Naturally: Incorporating physical activity into daily living.
  2. Purpose: Why you wake up in the morning.
  3. Down Shift: Figuring out how to decrease stress.
  4. 80% Rule: Stop eating when you are 80% full.
  5. Plant Slant: Eat a plant based diet.
  6. Wine @ 5 (Hello!!!): If you have a healthy relationship with alcohol, enjoy it in moderation (ie. one drink per day) with food and friends.
  7. Community: Volunteer or participate in a faith- based organization.
  8. Loved Ones First: Make family a priority. Keep aging parents/ grandparents close by or in the home and “invest” in your kids with time and love.
  9. Right Tribe: Surround yourself with people who support healthful behaviors.

The first time I read these, I focused on where I suck before I realized I wasn’t entirely doomed to live uncomfortably in my body until I’m 81.2 years; the average life expectancy for an American white female. But it has started the thought process on what my average day and week looks like, especially when I’m in the midst of the chaos surrounding being a working mom of 3 tiny people, trying to get her own thing off the ground with all the responsibilities of being an adult.

In 2010 The Blue Zones Project was started as a way to introduce these 9 principles into other communities. Margaret Adamek, PhD who is the Blue Zones Project Food Policy Expert reports that “a lot of strategies tend to focus on individual behavior (but) what can communities do to foster the conditions that lead to healthful choices for people?”

While I whole heartily agree this is a community effort, I do believe looking at some self reflection is a good way to get individuals to ban together to demand change in their towns. And my town is in desperate need of change. Per the Ottawa County Health Department stats from 2015-2016 school year, the rise of overweight and obese children increased 63% from Kindergarten to 5th grade! Ouch!

Per Obesity.org almost 90% of people living with type 2 diabetes are overweight or have obesity. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. If we can improve our children’s well being, we can decrease the number of diabetes complications i see in the hospital on a daily basis. Plus many can attest they’d kill to be the weight they were 10 years ago. I wrote about this a few months ago. I call it the Creep. Read it here.

Starting next week, it’s time to explore each of The Power 9 on a more personal basis. To live the Blue Zone way for 1 week for each attribute.

So tell me, are you in? Which ones do you think will be the hardest? Where does your community need the most help? Comment below and don’t forget to leave your email address to stay in the know and find me on Facebook here.

Hugs!

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