The Blue Zones books are based on the initial five areas (which have since grown in number) around the entire world where the healthiest, longest-living people reside. Cameron Diaz’s new book, The Longevity Book, captures that same essence of healthful living comprising your complete body and life. Is it possible to do? It is already being done.
As a quick background to the healthy foundation of the Blue Zones idea (from the book The Blue Zones Solution), there are five places in the world (Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, CA; and Nicoya, Costa Rica) that share nine elements (natural movement, a purpose, downshifting, the 80 percent rule, a plant-based diet, wine, the right tribe, community, putting loved ones first) that have now been scientifically proven to promote longevity and health in its residents.
Blue Zones communities, restaurants, and businesses have even popped up across the United States promoting healthier living and lifestyles, and making healthier choices easier to access. You can check out the nine U.S. cities promoting the Blue Zones Project, and be sure to visit one!
Especially here in America, there is a pervasive urgency to hurry and cut corners. Hurry when we’re driving, when we’re walking, hurry through the store and appointments, hurry through the work day, then hurry home to get dinner made and homework done, all to hurry and relax. Not very conducive to relaxing, is it? We have a workaholic, there’s-not-enough-time-in-the-day mindset, and anything that makes things easier, any kind of shortcut that comes along, many will grab at it.
This means opting for fast food, which is usually unhealthy; canned, prepared meals at the grocery store; and driving through anywhere instead of parking and getting out of the vehicle and walking into an establishment. The simple act of parking 10 spaces further than you normally would and walking into the grocery store adds time to your life, and it is good, healthy time. Simple, natural movement like walking is an easy addition to anybody’s day, even for rushed or lazy people.
It’s not just physical benefits that are experienced when people participate in the nine pointers. Emotional, spiritual, attitudinal, and productivity benefits are also seen. When you feel better about yourself in all or some areas, it feeds that positivity into other areas, and also into your interactions with other people.
We are living longer than at any time in history. The general life expectancy in the last half of the 1800s was around 40 years old. It is now around 78 years, and is expected to rise again to 98 years by the last half of this century. But the point is, life expectancy has doubled over the last 150 years. At 40 years of age, people’s lives were ending. Now we have virtually a whole additional life’s worth of years to live. Shouldn’t we at least try to make them as healthy and enjoyable as we can?
In Cameron Diaz’s newest book, she touches on the same types of ideas as Dan Buettner in his Blue Zones books. One area she really focuses on is how we do have control over how we age. “We do have a certain amount of control over how well we do it, and to understand what that means, that’s empowering,” Diaz said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Aging is a natural process that everybody and everything go through — people, animals, food, inanimate items. As time passes, we all age. But we can control how healthfully we age, and what our mindset is that surrounds the concept.
Diaz says she feels lucky to be able to age, that aging is a privilege. Some people don’t have that privilege of growing older because they die. She thinks of it as a gift, which is not the usual way to think of it in our culture. She has also learned a lot on her journey about many aspects of the aging and beauty equation, one being that “Beauty is not just something you are born with. Beauty is something you grow into.”
It isn’t just the kind of looks that land you on a GQ cover or a runway or print ad. The most important beauty comes from within, from feeling good about yourself, from giving to others, from being healthful inside in all aspects (or at least most) of your life. Having a healthy inside overflows to your outside and actually gives you another dimension of beauty.
Have you ever put together a puzzle and had a missing piece? Then you find the missing piece but it’s bent up a little because it got stuck in a couch cushion (or the dog’s mouth)? It might not be perfect, but with that piece, you can complete the puzzle. It’s that way with life and our health. We can take care of our pieces and have a complete healthful life, if we do it with intention.
In an interview with The Blue Zones‘ Dan Buettner, when asked for one piece of longevity advice, Cameron Diaz tells how important that purposeful intent is. “Pay attention. Be connected. Know your body. Listen to it.”
[Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images]