What The Healthiest People Do Differently And What You Can Learn From ThemApr 01, 2023
Health is your most fundamental need and as a society, we put a lot of effort into it:
Industrialized nations spend up to 18 percent of their GDP on healthcare, which is a trillion-dollar industry.
Over the last 100 years, global life expectancy has doubled.
Despite these efforts and progress, there’s a catch:
2020 Eurostat data finds that in Europe, about 20% of your lifespan is expected to be with impaired health
Most see this as inevitable and given, as the body deteriorates over the years.
However, some communities go against this trend:
For them, reaching the age of 100 is nothing unusual, dementia barely exists, heart disease is rare and men even have children at 80 years old!
But what are they doing differently?
And how can you apply it for yourself?
This newsletter is going to explore what is needed to live not only a long but also healthy life.
Because as the saying goes:
Health is not everything, but without health, everything is nothing.
What do the healthiest people do differently?
Exploring this question brings us to „Bluezones“.
The term was popularized by Dan Buettner and National Geographic in 2005, who looked for extraordinarily healthy communities and investigated their lifestyle.
Residents in these locations not only get older but also tend to live healthier throughout the entirety of their life compared to average inhabitants of modern nations.
Dan came up with the following list of Bluezones:
- Sardinia, Italy: They found a hot spot of 100-year-olds in the mountain village of Seulo. There are numerous reports of men having children at the age of 80.
- Ikaria, Greece: According to a 2009 study, the Greek island Ikaria has the highest percentage of 90-year-olds. Inhabitants suffer 20 percent less cancer, 50 percent less cardiovascular disease, and almost no dementia.
- Okinawa, Japan: Some of the oldest people in the world live here. Japan as a whole has the second highest life expectancy in the world and an obesity rate of only 3,6% compared to 32% in the US.
- Loma Linda, California: A community of seven-day Adventists that, on average, live 10 years longer than other US citizens.
- Nicoya, Costa Rica: A rural peninsula where men over the age of 60 are seven times more likely to reach the 100-year mark than the global average.
All of these regions are inhabited by a significantly higher rate of 100-year-olds, residents show lower rates of diseases that are typically tied to old age and they enjoy more healthy years.
Despite these communities being spread across the globe, there are several factors these communities have in common:
1 - Nutrition:
Inhabitants of Bluezones mainly eat unprocessed, whole foods, with a high focus on plant-based meals.
Added sugars, processed meat, refined oils, and other highly processed foods are rare.
Furthermore, the use of tobacco - considered the #1 cause of death through preventable disease - and excessive alcohol consumption are limited.
Let’s look at the Mediterranean diet in Sardinia as an example:
This diet consists primarily of vegetables, legumes, whole grains, olive oil, fish, and seafood.
Alcohol is only consumed moderately, primarily in the form of wine.
Several studies have found the Mediterranean diet to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and overall mortality.
2 – Physical activity:
People in Bluezones are constantly exposed to moderate physical activity, which seems to be vital for a long and healthy life.
For example, the peninsula of Nicoya is located in mountainous terrain, where people work mainly as farmers.
Science finds massive benefits for walking 6000-8000 steps for elders and 8000-10000 steps for younger adults:
A meta-analysis of 15 studies, conducted with 50000 people, showed that the groups with higher activity had a 40-53% lower risk of death, compared to those with the least activity!
Humans evolved to move – our ancestors moved 20000 steps per day.
Compare this with the reality of modern office workers:
They get an average of only 3000 steps per day!
A sedentary lifestyle – which, unfortunately, is normal today - is considered one of the highest risk factors for early death and disease.
3 – Absence of chronic distress:
So far, this has probably been nothing new for you.
Everyone has heard about the importance and benefits of exercise and eating less processed foods.
Here’s the question though:
Why aren‘t more people doing it, despite knowing about it?
The inability to properly manage stress is one of the main reasons why people struggle to consistently exercise and adhere to a healthy diet.
Short-from distress leads to more cravings for food, impaired recovery, higher irritability, and a higher chance of engaging in binging behaviors.
In fact, most of your bad habits are likely means to cope with unhealthy stress (read this article to learn more about this).
Chronic distress increases the risk for a variety of conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes – all of which are rare in Bluezones.
While communities in Bluezones are exposed to hard work from time to time, they are absent of chronic distress.
Farmers work hard on the field, but this effort is not permanent – they have clearly defined periods of rest.
This is different from modern work culture, where you tend to be involved in our job or business 24/7.
4 – Strong social ties
All of the observed communities have strong social ties and elderly people are still involved in the communities:
In Sardinia for example, grandparents are responsible for taking care of the children, and in Okinawa, dedication to family and friends is a high cultural value.
Loneliness is rare in Bluezones - compared to modern society, where, according to a global survey, a third of the population experiences loneliness.
Despite it being easier than ever to reach out to other people, close relationships between humans seem to get rare.
The impact of loneliness is well-documented:
For example, married men live longer, engage in less dangerous habits, and are on average healthier.
For infants, a lack of human relationships can even be fatal, even if other essential needs such as food are met.
Loneliness is a significant contributor to mental health issues and dementia – which is especially problematic for elder individuals.
5 – Meaningful work:
Inhabitants of Bluezones feel connected to their work and consider it meaningful.
They have a purpose for what they do.
For example, the farmers in Sardinia and Nicoya grow their own food.
Finding purpose in the modern workforce can be difficult, where complicated corporate structures are the norm.
These structures can make it hard to notice the individual contribution to the greater good.
David Graebner writes about this in his best-seller „Bullshit Jobs“:
Bullshit jobs are…
"A form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case."
It’s no secret that humans want to contribute and be engaged in meaningful work.
The feeling of progress and building toward the greater good is incredibly satisfying and makes you happy.
This brings you to the last aspect of this list:
5 – A positive outlook toward life:
Inhabitants of Bluezones are generally happy and have a positive outlook on life.
Modern science is starting to discover more and more how physiology is affected by our beliefs, thoughts, and emotions.
For example, the Placebo effect demonstrates how expectations can impact the effectiveness of treatments and medical procedures.
Even the effect of steroids on muscle growth might be partly due to the Placebo effect.
Less known is the Nocebo effect which occurs when patients expect treatment to be especially painful or difficult
In his book „You are the Placebo“, Joe Dispenza mentions several cases of spontaneous healing or decline in health, which cannot be explained in other ways.
Being happy can big challenge in the modern world:
Studies find an increase in depression and some reports even find that Americans are the least happy in 50 years.
Depression affects the body indirectly through conditions such as sleep disorders (click here to learn about the devastating effects of sleep disruption) and weight gain.
In contrast to that, happiness contributes to healthier habits and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
To obtain the best health possible, you need to see health as more than the absence of illness.
Your subjective well-being is determined by more and other factors such as social or mental health play a crucial role.
It’s also remarkable that people in Bluezones don’t do anything special:
They are implementing what you already know to be key factors for a healthy lifestyle, such as not smoking, eating mostly a whole-food diet, and physical activity.
A lack of information isn’t the problem, the challenge is integrating those factors into your everyday life, especially as an entrepreneur.
While we have more material comfort on one hand, other negative factors such as excessive stress, loneliness, or lack of purpose are on the rise.
We need broader considerations than „just exercise more and eat healthier“, as this shallow approach doesn’t account for these underlying issues.
It’s no coincidence that Bluezones cultivate environments that make it easy and natural to be active, eat what science considers healthy and avoid chronic distress.
There has to be a change in how we as a society think about health and we need to create environments that are more supportive of our well-being.
Big-picture change always starts on the individual level, so it’s our responsibility to take action.
Commitments to stress management, building social connections, moving more, and eating a whole-food diet are necessary to make this change.
As entrepreneurs, we are in the position to go ahead and create the change – let’s do it and create a healthier world for everyone.
That’s it for today, until next week!
If you want to learn a holistic approach to creating the body you’ve always wanted and boosting your vitality without depriving diets, click HERE to schedule a free 30-minute breakthrough call to learn more about it.
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