PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID MCCLAIN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Kame Ogido, 89, a resident of Okinawa, holds a handful of edible seaweed. The Japanese island is defined by the author as a ‘Blue Zone’, where people live longest.

Diet is the key to longevity — but also sex, naps, wine, and good friends.

At Venerdi, we’re big believers in the Blue Zone way of life; it underpins the food policies which we follow and stay true to when creating any of our Venerdi range. Our food policies see us eat mostly plant-based foods; not too much – eating more food than you need puts extra stresses on your body –  we follow a high-fibre diet from diverse sources, eat a good portion of anti-inflammatory foods by balancing Omega-3 and Omega-6 intake and avoid sugar and empty calories, particularly from processed foods. We use spices, nature’s powerful healers, and we use natural fermentation or sprouting where possible to aid in digestion and add to flavour. We are mindful of the concentration and simplification of diet and we keep an eye on calorie load.

So, when reading an article in National Geographic Magazine by Simon Worrall, it struck a few chords in terms of how we see things.  Here are a few of our favourite snippets that we thought you might find interesting… one man’s well-researched view on how Blue Zoners have cracked it!


The secret:

Commonalities in Blue Zones: They eat a plant-based diet; they live in walkable communities; their life is imbued with purpose.

The big health facts:

If you’re napping 30 minutes a day, five days a week, your chance of heart disease is about one-third lower than if you muscle through the afternoon.

We know that people who are having sex after the age of 50, at least twice per week, have about half the rate of mortality than people who aren’t gettin’ it.

In Ikaria, it incubated a set of lifestyles and a population that lives about eight years longer than average, with just a fraction of the average rate of dementia. Whereas here in America, about 50 percent of people over 85 are suffering from dementia.

The Food:

Sweet potatoes and turmeric are two interesting longevity foods. Sweet potatoes are high in flavonoids and complex carbohydrates. Turmeric has been associated with lower rates of cancer and healthier hearts.

…Greens they call horta, they use them as salad greens or greens that they’ll lightly steam and bake into pies. These greens are the food that’s most highly associated with healthy ageing.

Connections:

If you’re lonely, it takes about eight years off your life expectancy as compared with the most connected people.

In Okinawa, another stand-out Blue Zone, they traditionally don’t have to worry about loneliness because when you’re a child, you’re put by your parents into these Moais. It can be defined as a committed social network that lasts a long time: a personal board of directors. I profiled several 102-year-old women who had belonged to the same Moai for 98 years.

Movement:

The secret they teach us is the importance of engineering ‘nudges’ for physical activity into our daily life, like planting a garden, which sets up a nudge for the entire growing season to be out there watering, weeding or harvesting. Don’t look to completely convenience your life with mechanised tools.

Although we’re innovators at heart, we don’t change for the sake of change.  If something’s working, we look at why and how and apply it to our methodologies. Blue Zones have been a focus for the health-conscious and mindful amongst us for many years; so, what’s the secret? Diet is typically linked to health, but what is most fascinating is the role other factors like movement and connection play.  

Firstly, let’s get clear on what a Blue Zone is. Simply put, it’s the fascinating parts of the world where people live the longest – either reaching age 100 at extraordinary rates, have the highest life expectancy, or the lowest rate of middle age mortality.

But why? According to the Ikaria model, it’s down to having lots of sex, drinking wine and napping a lot. The Ikaria model is named after the Greek Island of Ikaria where its inhabitants are some of the healthiest people on the planet.

Simon Worrall from National Geographic explores the questions on everyone’s lips. Why the diet you follow, where you live and the company you keep, determine your longevity? You can read his full article  here.