I read a book years ago called “The Blue Zones.” It is a great book written by Dan Buettner. He has written another book recently called “The Blue Zones Solutions” which had brought him back in the spotlight. Buettner travels the world researching why there are certain places where people live well into their 90’s and have the largest population of centenarians in the world. He identifies these blue zones as Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California and Nicoya, Costa Rica.
We know now from research that our genetics only account for about 16% of our overall health and longevity. The rest is lifestyle which basically means it’s up to us.
Their eating habits are quite different than Americans, but it’s not only their eating habits that contribute to their health and longevity. They have community, most often religious, family is extremely important to them, they take time to de-stress (I guarantee they are not texting 24/7 and consumed with their jobs), their outlook on life and they move! This doesn’t mean they go to gyms and feel the burn….no, they walk and do things that require them to be mobile most of the day. Exercise is not something they dread doing. They don’t even think about it because they are moving all day long. We sit way too much in America whether it is at desk jobs, in front of televisions or computers. That behavior also lowers our sense of community which is something that all these areas have in common.
There is so much more to say about this wonderful book but I highly recommend that everyone read it. It might make you think twice about what you deem important and help you regain your health and well-being.
I will leave you with a recipe that I have been making over and over again. Both the dill and tomatoes came straight from my garden! It is a staple meal in Ikaria, Greece where people live about eight years longer than Americans and experience 20% less cancer, half the rate of heart disease, and almost no dementia.
Ikarian Longevity Stew With Black Eyed Peas
· ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
· 1 large red onion, finely chopped
· 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
· 1 fennel bulb
· 1 cup (8 ounces) black eyed peas (with dried peas, bring to a boil, boil for 1 minute, remove from heat, cover and let sit for an hour. Drain, rinse, and use.)
· 1 large, firm ripe tomato, finely chopped
· 2 tsp tomato paste, diluted in ¼ cup water
· 2 bay leaves
· salt to taste
· 1 bunch dill, finely chopped
1. Heat half the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion, garlic, and fennel bulb stirring occasionally, until soft (about 12 minutes). Add the black-eyed peas and toss to coat in the oil.
2. Add the tomato, tomato paste and enough water to cover the beans by about an inch. Add the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the black-eyed peas are about half way cooked. (Check after 40 minutes, but it may take over an hour.)
3. Add the chopped dill and season with salt.
4. Continue cooking until the black-eyed peas are tender. Remove, pour in remaining raw olive oil and serve.