Blue Zones is a term used to describe geographic locations where a high concentration of centenarians, people who are over the age of 90 and 100, live. The term was first coined by Dan Buettner, an author who was investigating these particular regions. He found that there are five blue zones:
- Icaria, Greece.
- Ogliastra, Sardinia.
- Okinawa, Japan.
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
- The Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California.
Buettner discovered that, despite the immense geographical variation in these Blue Zones, the citizens who resided in them had many lifestyle characteristics in common. These healthy life habits are an effective way to add days to one’s life, and they should be adopted by the Jewell student body. In this way, we can create a healthier campus environment mentally, spiritually and physically, thus enabling greater learning and critical thinking.
Here are some lessons that we can take from the 5 Blue Zones:
Dietary Commonalities in the Blue Zones
While the people of the Blue Zones are not necessarily vegetarian, 95% of their diets came from plant-based products. Furthermore, many of these plant-based products came directly from their own gardens, and thus they were free of pesticides and other chemicals that normally pose a threat to the average American consumer. Many of the Blue Zone residents also eat a large amount of legumes and nuts, which help to reduce the incidence of chronic illnesses associated with greater age as a result of their high protein and fiber content, and healthy fat and high fiber content, respectively.
While it is understandably difficult for a college student to cultivate their own produce, Liberty has a farmer’s market where one can purchase organic products that are salient for a healthy mind and body. Our cafeteria food, which is overseen by Fresh Ideas, a food management service, provides food created with “the freshest ingredients.” To help aid you in your quest for healthy foods, the Fresh Ideas website also provides a menu with nutrition facts about each of the foods served in the cafeteria. Ditch the candy, chips and popcorn, and opt instead for roasted chickpeas, almonds and other healthy foods as a study snack– your future self will thank you for it.
Finally, the people in the Blue Zones value not only high quality food, but also high quality meal time. To them, eating is a social event that allows individuals to unwind and connect with members of their community. Instead of buying fast food and eating it in the car, take time to schedule lunches with your friends. Enjoy the food and have meaningful conversations with the people you love– not only will this help to lengthen your life, but it will also allow you to immerse yourself in the Jewell family.
Living an Active Lifestyle
Blue Zone residents engage in healthy exercise on a day-to-day basis, and this helps to keep them active and mobile, even at an advanced age. That’s not to say that they engage in high intensity workouts, but they often opt to walk to their destinations, as opposed to simply driving, and they frequently engage in gardening activities. Often times, one can hear a Jewell student complaining about how far away the commuter parking lot or the dorms are from the learning facilities. Try to keep in mind that while it is very tedious to climb all those stairs just to get to your classes, it is in fact benefiting you immensely. The more mobile you are on a day-to-day basis, the higher the chance for you to stay lithe in your old age.
Relaxation and Sleep
These two things seem impossible for a college student to achieve. Blue Zone residents get a full night’s sleep and often take naps throughout the day as a way to quietly recharge. They also have times of the day in which they pray, meditate and engage in relaxing activities, which helps to lower stress levels. This is important, as high stress can often lead to an early death. It is understandably very difficult for college students to ever catch a break, what with the unrelenting stream of essays, readings and other activities. However, you should try to set aside an hour or so every day to engage in an activity that you find to be soothing. For example, you can sit down with an adult coloring book, do some light yoga or take a short nap. All of these will help you to be more productive for longer periods of time, and will actually help you catch up with all your work.
By emulating the lifestyle of those who live in the Blue Zone, we can create our own Cardinal Blue Zone that promotes longevity, relaxation and healthy living.
I was wondering if there was a way to go even further with one of these topics. What would it take to be able to create a garden right here on campus? Then we could make campus a little healthier and in some ways more beautiful. What would it take to get this started here on campus? Who would we have to talk to to get this started for the future of Jewell?