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Blue Zone Diet: Eating To Live Longer

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
  • The Blue Zones are home to the people with the highest longevity worldwide. 

    The diets of Blue Zone inhabitants differ from the standard American diet. By adopting a Blue Zone diet, you can lead a healthier life. 

    Choosing healthier foods and taking a supplement like fatty15 can help you achieve your health goal. 

Sure, you want to live longer and stay healthier, but how do you do it? Aging is inevitable, and sometimes, certain age-related illnesses seem just as probable. 

Thankfully, that’s not always the case. By studying people who live to be 100, known as centenarians, we can learn the lifestyle habits that underlie their longevity. 

Together, we’ll explore who these people are and where they live and learn about the diets they use to support their wellness. We’ll then discuss how we can adapt our American lifestyles and dietary intakes to match those of people living in Blue Zones, areas where life expectancies far exceed those in other parts of the world. 

We’ll also talk about how a particular fatty acid can help reverse aging on the cellular level and improve your overall health and wellness. 

What Are Blue Zones?

You might’ve heard about Blue Zones or seen the popular documentary featuring Dan Buettner while scrolling through Netflix. Blue Zones are regions of the world where life expectancy is longer than it is in any other place. To date, five Blue Zones have been identified. 

They are:

  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica

In these areas, the chances of living to 100 are far higher than in any other region of the world. What sets these people apart? Much of it has to do with lifestyle. 

The Blue Zone Power 9

Researchers studying the Blue Zones and their centenarians found nine key factors that each Blue Zone shared, on some level, that promoted their health and longevity. 

They include:

  • Moving naturally
  • Finding purpose in life
  • Managing stress
  • Eating to 80% fullness
  • Drinking wine after 5 p.m.
  • Establishing a tribe
  • Putting family first
  • Belonging to a group
  • Eating a plant-based diet

In this piece, we’ll focus on the last Power 9 component, the Blue Zone diet. Together, we’ll explore the details of what the centenarians living in Blue Zones eat and how they eat it. 

What Is the Blue Zone Diet?

The typical American diet differs from the standard Blue Zone diet. Even across continents and cultures, certain aspects of the diets in Blue Zones are so similar that researchers have identified them and built what they call “The Blue Zone Diet.”

The Blue Zone Diet consists of 11 guidelines that researchers suggest are practiced by the Blue Zone inhabitants and may play a role in their ability to live longer, healthier lives. 

1. Pick Plants

A plant-based diet is consistently linked with a lower mortality rate. Picking plants gives your body access to a higher level of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals than choosing non-plant-based foods. 

The diets of people living in Blue Zones are 95-100% plant-based. If the idea of going vegan is overwhelming, consider this: just making a few substitutions can make a huge difference in your diet. 

Instead of attempting to switch your diet entirely plant-based, make small adjustments like adopting one night per week to cook a meatless meal or changing to a plant-based meal once per day. 

2. Avoid Processed Foods

The people living in certain Blue Zones have less access to processed foods than we do. This benefits them because it means they choose more whole foods. 

Whole foods are single ingredient, raw, or unprocessed foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. You can avoid eating processed foods by shopping the perimeter of your grocery store, where the produce is typically found. 

3. Love Legumes

Beans and legumes are staples in the Blue Zone diet. People in these regions usually consume about ½ cup to one cup of beans or legumes per day. Lentils, fava, black beans, and soybeans are all choices of Blue Zone centenarians. 

People in Blue Zones eat as much as four times as many beans as Americans do. The Mediterranean diet consists of lentils, garbanzo, and white beans, while people in Nicoya enjoy black beans. 

4. Drink Your Water

It goes without saying that drinking water is vital, but it’s also consistent with the Blue Zone Diet. Blue Zone centenarians primarily drink water with limited amounts of coffee, tea, and red wine. 

It’s important to note that when consuming coffee and tea, you should avoid adding sugar and heavy cream to your drinks. In Okinawa, for instance, Okinawans sip green tea throughout the day without added sugar or sweeteners.

Likewise, wine consumption in Blue Zones is done in moderation and usually with friends. People in Blue Zones consume one to two small glasses of red wine per day with meals or with their social groups. 

However, if you don’t drink, this doesn’t mean you should start. There are numerous benefits to not drinking as well. 

5. Choose Bread Wisely

In Blue Zones, people eat only whole wheat bread or sourdough bread. Unlike the bread that is commercially available in the United States, Blue Zone bread isn’t heavily processed and is typically made with whole grains. 

Sourdough bread is made with naturally occurring probiotics, which aid in digestion and boost digestive health. 

6. Get a Little Nutty

Adding a serving of nuts to your daily diet can help decrease your risk for heart disease and stroke. Nuts are packed with healthy fats and protein, and in Blue Zones, they are consumed regularly. 

The best nuts to snack on include almonds, peanuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, and walnuts. Consumption of these types of nuts is also linked with lowering your cholesterol. 

7. Reduce Your Sugar Intake

It’s no secret: we love sugar. Americans intake more than 17 teaspoons of added sugar each day. In Blue Zones, sugar is consumed in the form of fruits and vegetables, and the occasional chocolate treat. 

Reserving sweets like candy and cake for special occasions can help you live more like a Blue Zone centenarian. 

8. Know Your Eggs

Blue Zone inhabitants eat eggs two to four times per week, but the eggs they have access to are largely different from the ones in America. They come from free-range chickens and never receive hormones or antibiotics. 

You don’t need to consume eggs to increase your longevity, but if you do, limit your egg consumption to free-range eggs and only eat them a few times per week. 

9. Don’t Drink Dairy

Reducing your milk intake might help you live more like the Blue Zone centenarians. In Blue Zones, the milk consumed is often from sheep or goats, not cows. In addition, it’s not often consumed as a liquid but rather in the form of cheese or yogurt. 

10. Avoid Fishy Business

You’ve probably heard that eating more fish is part of a healthy diet, but in Blue Zones, people are eating less fish and consuming different types. 

In Blue Zones, the waters are not overfished, and the types of fish consumed are plentiful and small. Blue Zone inhabitants choose fish like anchovies, sardines, and cod as opposed to larger fish like salmon and swordfish, which can contain dangerous levels of mercury. 

11. Go Meatless

In America, we love meat, but studies consistently show that eating less meat is more beneficial to our health. In fact, eating less meat is one of the pillars of a Blue Zone diet. People living in Blue Zones only eat meat about five times per month and usually choose small portions of pork or small fish. 

These 11 principles may seem challenging, but remember that you can adopt one or some of them and see a change in your health. You can also progress through the changes slowly and give your body (and mind) time to adjust. 

In addition to these dietary recommendations, recent science supports that adding C15:0, a newly discovered as essential fatty acid to your diet can further improve your health and longevity. 

What Is C15:0?

C15:0 is an odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that is essential for our bodies. That means we need it to thrive but can’t make it on our own. 

We have to get it from food or supplements. C15:0 is found primarily in whole-fat dairy products, which, as we have previously noted, aren’t part of a Blue Zone diet. 

In addition, whole-fat dairy products provide a wallop of calories, including sugars (aka lactose), that also require cows. The calories in whole-fat milk likely explain why a large-scale recent study showed that adults who drink more dairy milk are more likely to have a higher body weight. 

Further, the movement to more plant-based milk and meat replacements are driven by a desire for more animal-free products, as well as a desire to veer from cows and cattle because of concerns around methane production. Interestingly, plant-based milk replacements lack C15:0 altogether.

A solution? Fatty15

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Fatty15 is the world’s first and only C15:0 supplement. Fatty15 contains pure C15:0 in a sustainably produced, vegan-friendly, and award-winning form called FA15. Developed by doctors and scientists studying longevity in dolphin populations, fatty15 helps support your longevity by targeting the very foundation of your health: your cells. By keeping your cells healthy, you can keep your body healthy.

Fatty15 reverses cellular aging and repairs cells by: 

  • Strengthening cell membranes. Cell membranes are important for protecting your cells and maintaining their shape, and C15:0 integrates into cell membranes to help keep them strong. In studies, C15:0 strengthened cell membranes by 80%.
  • Activating AMPK. AMPK helps clear away damaged cells and supports total body homeostasis. C15:0 helps support total body homeostasis by activating these molecules so they can work effectively. 
  • Stemming cellular senescence (zombie cells, a key hallmark of aging). C15:0 inhibits mTOR. This nifty skill helps to effectively knock out dysfunctional ‘zombie cells’ that damage our bodies and result in aging-related breakdown.
  • Lowering inflammatory response. C15:0 significantly calms and lowers levels of proinflammatory cytokines, which are known to be a key driver in the aging process. 
  • Supporting mitochondria. The mitochondria in our cells begin to lose their function as we age. They produce less ATP (cellular energy) and more ROS (reactive oxygen species that is toxic to cells). C15:0 helps restore mitochondrial function, reduces ROS output by 45%, and increases ATP production. 
  • Activating PPARɑ and PPARẟ receptors. By activating these receptors, C15:0 has been shown in peer-reviewed studies to support metabolic, immune, heart, and liver health in relevant models. These receptors also help to improve mood and deepen sleep.

By focusing on your cellular health and practicing healthy eating, you can adopt a lifestyle that supports and increases your long-term health and longevity. 

Going Blue

A healthy life is possible; choosing healthy foods is part of a healthy diet. Focus on the 11 suggestions from the Blue Zone Diet, and remember that you can make these changes slowly and still reap the benefits. 

Augment your Blue Zone Diet with fatty15, the award-winning, vegan-friendly, pure C15:0 supplement that fortifies your cells naturally and can improve your long-term health and wellness. 

Sources:

Power 9® - Blue Zones | Blue Zones.com

Food Guidelines | Blue Zones

Role of plant-based diets in promoting health and longevity | PubMed.gov

Short- and Longer-Term Benefits of Temporary Alcohol Abstinence During 'Dry January' Are Not Also Observed Among Adult Drinkers in the General Population: Prospective Cohort Study | PMC

Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health | Mayo Clinic

Plasma, Urine, and Adipose Tissue Biomarkers of Dietary Intake Differ Between Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Diet Groups in the Adventist Health Study-2 | ScienceDirect

Dairy consumption and overweight and obesity: a systematic review of prospective cohort studies - Louie - 2011 | Wiley

Efficacy of dietary odd-chain saturated fatty acid pentadecanoic acid parallels broad associated health benefits in humans: could it be essential? | Scientific Reports

A review of odd-chain fatty acid metabolism and the role of pentadecanoic Acid (c15:0) and heptadecanoic Acid (c17:0) in health and disease | PMC

Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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