According to this article on MindBodyGreen, the populations who live in the Blue Zones have these three common habits. According to Dan Buettner, the author of The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons For Living Longer, the habits are:
- They Don’t Exercise: This may seem counterintuitive and I was thrown off at first, but Dan explains that they stay active instead of working out. He equates this as staying active is not the same as exercising. He said that instead of doing yoga or HIIT, they walk. They walk to a neighbor’s house to eat. They walk to work. They walk to a friend’s house. They also do mundane activities to stay active, such as housework, yard work, and kitchen work. Dan explains that they do these activities to stay active instead of going to the gym. This shows that you do not necessarily have to go to the gym or run a marathon or be a competitive swimmer to live a long life. However, I believe that going to the gym, running, and swimming laps can help you do these mundane activities faster and more efficient. As someone who runs, swims laps, goes hiking occasionally, and goes to the gym to lift weights, I noticed I can do these daily chores much faster.
- They eat carbs – a lot of carbs: This is a very important habit, especially with the low-carb diets gaining popularity. But people in the Blue Zones eat a plant-based diet, whether it’s 90% or 100% plant-based. We have been taught that carbohydrates are bad for us and we associate them with sodas, candy, sweets, and processed junk food. But no one knows that complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, oatmeal, potatoes, lentils, and whole-wheat bread. The only bad carbohydrates are refined carbohydrates, such as lollipops and chocolate candies. However, low-carb diets such as the ketogenic diet and the Paleo diet claim that all carbohydrates are bad. The problem with their logic is that complex carbohydrates are healthier and lower your risk of various chronic diseases. The diet of the Blue Zone populations is plant-based, consisting of a lot of healthy, complex carbohydrates.
- They do happy hour: What this means is that they spend time with friends, but only good friends. This shows that having a tight-knit community of good friends is linked with longevity. Only bad friends do the opposite by dragging you down and pressuring you to engage in unhealthy activities that shorten lifespan. However, friends who support you and positive social interaction is linked to a longer life.
Whole-Foods Vegan Diets Are Better Than Low-Carb Diets For Longevity
To go into more detail about the second habit, this shows that a whole-foods plant-based diet leads to a longer life compared to low-carb diets. Not all carbohydrates are bad. You need complex carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, brown rice, black beans, potatoes, and whole wheat bread. The fiber, vitamins, and minerals are what offset the blood glucose spikes. Candies, sodas, and refined grains do not have those factors that could offset blood glucose spikes. The fiber in fruit can offset the natural sugar you get in the fruit. The fiber helps slow down digestion of the complex carbohydrates, so one would only get a gradual blood glucose spike instead of one big spike that could increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition, the brain and nervous system need a constant supply of carbohydrates and the ketones are just a backup source of energy. I would also like to point out that when skeletal muscles contract, such as when you are exercising, they do not need insulin to store the glucose. Finally, us humans have the enzyme amylase in our salivary glands and in our pancreas that break down starch.
Excess Dietary Fat To Blame For Type 2 Diabetes?
According to this video by biochemist Cyrus Khambatta on Plant Based News, it is also how much fat you eat that determines blood glucose levels, not just how much carbohydrates you eat. He stated that excess dietary fat is also responsible for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. He used the standard American diet as an example that is high in fat and refined sugars. Cyrus said that it’s not just refined sugars that are responsible, but excess dietary fat is also responsible for insulin resistance. Cyrus stated that it is the dietary fat that starts the insulin resistance first before the carbohydrates exacerbate it. He said that the insulin receptors become dysfunctional when you eat too much dietary fat. Near the end of the video, he said that to see how effective a diet is, you study your diet in tens to hundreds to thousands of people and to study the outcomes over long periods of time (5+ years). A great example of such a study would be The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. This study covered 65 counties, 130 villages, and 6500 adults and their families. This massive study showed that a whole-foods plant-based diet is better at reducing the risk of chronic diseases, including insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. Such a comprehensive study shows that low-carb diets are not as effective compared to a whole-foods plant-based diet, especially a 100% whole-foods plant-based diet.
Want To Live Longer? Eat A Whole-Foods Vegan Diet Mostly High In Carbohydrates
The Blue Zones article showed that a whole-foods plant-based diet rich in carbohydrates leads to a longer life unlike the low-carb diets. Cyrus Khambatta stated that the same whole-foods plant-based diet can reduce the risk of insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. This is one of the chronic diseases that can lead to an early death. The comprehensive China Study also showed that a whole-foods plant-based diet can reduce the risk of these chronic illnesses that can lead to an early death. The only carbohydrates that are bad for your health are refined carbohydrates that you find in white bread, candy, sodas, chocolates, and processed foods. The standard American diet is not only high in refined carbohydrates, but also high in fat. The fat, as Cyrus explained, is also a major contributor to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. The only carbohydrates that are healthy are complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice and oatmeal. These Blue Zone populations eat these complex carbohydrates and that is why they have a longer lifespan. Therefore, a whole-foods vegan diet is the ideal way to live a longer life.