If there is one thing most of us have in common it is the desire for a long and healthy life. We want to live life fully, right up until the end. But how can we ensure this last? Is it left up to luck, good genes, hearty DNA or is it lifestyle?
It turns out that scientists say that 25% of our life span is based on genetics and 75% is our individual lifestyle choices. Lifestyle breaks down to things we can control and take action on in our everyday life. Healthy habits, having deep friendships, and creating a clean environment are conscious choices that contribute to longevity. It so happens that as they searched the world for places where people lived the longest they found one of them in Costa Rica!
‘The Blue Zones’ by Dan Bueter is considered an anti-aging book, however it is more profound and truly can be used as a guideline for a long and healthy life. The book lists nine powerful cross cultural distillations of the best practices from the four international locations chosen for their longevity. The models for this lifestyle come from the communities of those who have lived the longest.
The Blue Zones are found in these four populations:
Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Loma Linda, USA
Research found, that the daily lifestyle rules that apply to everyone are:
Stay physically active your entire life;
Sleep 7 to 9 hours per night;
Take care of your teeth; and
Eat fresh, and eat beans.
How to Create Maximum Health through the Traditional Tico Lifestyle
1. Move Naturally.
Beach walks and mountain hikes, swimming and surfing, kayaking and SUP. We can add these popular activities to our list as they are widely available here, yoga, pilates, tai chi, chi gong.
2. Hara Hachi Boo.
Cut out 20% of calories – eat less, the heat helps to temper our appetites. Arrange your servings of food to look bigger, or use smaller vessels. Make it difficult to get snacks. Buy the smaller sized packages, so you consume less. Eat Slowly. Eat Mindfully. Sit down to eat, take your time. Eat Dinner early (at susent) and make it your smallest meal.
4. Eat fresh, eat less meat.
Fruit and veggies grow easily every where. Eat 4-6 veggies a day – fresh and whole. Limit your meat and fish to just once or twice a week. Eat beans – every day. Eat Nuts – keep snack packages 2 oz or less, refridgorated so they keep their oils. Celebrate – Drink a glass or two of red wine or sake daily, with nuts as a snack or with your evening meal and a group of friends when possible.
5. Live on Purpose – Plan de Vida.
Know the answer to the question: why do I wake up in the morning? Do some thing you love and can become lost in. Learn or begin a new activity – a new language, a new skill, do things that are novel and complex, learn to surf, sea kayak, paddleboard, bird watch. Volunteer with a community project – work with something that you believe in or want to see change, work with children, teens, domestic violence, community food, nature – reforestation, animals – wild or domestic, sea turtle sanctuary.
6. Stress relief. Socialize with family and/or friends.
Limit or rid yourself of social media and electronic entertainment – power outages assist here. Be early for things – know how to get where you are going on our unmarked roads (ha,ha) in a place where Tico Time means being an hour late. Meditate – create quiet time for yourself.
Find your faith – What do you believe in. Get involved. Explore new traditions – find a community of like minded souls (Your Tribe). Just attend. Don’t think about it, just go and partake.
8. Put your loved ones first.
Family, is the highest degree of social ritual, and the Tico’s live that philosophy. Establish rituals – Use all the tools offered my the internet to stay connected from whats app, skype, Facetime, and stay connected with your loved ones. Create a family shrine.
9. Surround yourself with like minded others – Find your Tribe!
Create new relationships. Identify others who think like you. Be likeable. Be approachable. Create time together make time to exercise together, socialize together, eat together.
This article was originally published for Costa Pacifica Living, Costa Rica's premier lifestyle magazine.