TRUE HealthCare should focus on SO much more than insurance, pills, fancy tests and access. Don’t you think it should be centered around RESULTS like Vitality and Quality of Life? Sadly, despite spending the MOST money, per capita ($8713/ year) of any of the 34 OECD countries, the life expectancy in the United States is #27 (78.7 years vs the average of 80.20). We are obviously not getting much Bang for our Buck! Instead of arguing about EXPANDING ineffective HeathCare (like we have now) why don’t we examine cultures on Earth where people enjoy the highest life expectancies and quality of life, overall. It seems logical to learn from those who have succeeded, instead of continuing to support a failed system in the USA. A team of researchers did just that over a decade ago. They searched for evidence-based commonalities among all the places on Earth with the highest life expectancies. The concept first appeared as an international concept in the November 2005 National Geographic Magazine cover story "The Secrets of a Long Life" by Dan Buettner.
The Secrets of a Long Life
Here are the nine things they found in common; NONE of which require a lot of money or high tech interventions. These lessons can help you — and those you love — live longer, healthier, and happier lives: Move naturally. People in Blue Zones move throughout their day. They walk, grow gardens, and are active without thinking about it. *No gym membership required. Have a purpose. According to research, knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to 7 years of extra life expectancy. *What makes your heart sing? Do it! Finds ways to slow down and deal with stress. Everyone deals with stress, but people in Blue Zones have routine ways of dealing with it, including napping and getting together with friends. *Kairos vs Chronos time management… Eat less. The Okinawans have a saying to remind them to stop eating when they are 80% full. This 20% gap can make a difference between losing weight or gaining it. *It takes at least 20 minutes for our brain to catch up & say “enough”! Eat plant-strong. The vast majority of the food eaten in Blue Zones is derived from plants. They eat what we would call “whole foods” rather than processed food-like products. Buettner says beans are a cornerstone of many of their diets. Drink in moderation or not at all. People in all Blue Zones, except Seventh-day Adventists in California, drink 1 to 2 glasses of red wine per day, often with a meal and with friends. But they never drink to excess. (The Seventh-day Adventists generally don’t drink alcohol at all.) *Yeah… happy dance! Have faith. Almost all centenarians interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. *Connection to a Power outside of ourselves is part of our body/mind/spirit balance as human beings. Find what works for YOU! Put loved ones first. People in Blue Zones put their families first. They keep aging parent and grandparents nearby and invest in their children with time and love. *Sharing our TIME with family is MUCH more important than sharing money! Ask anyone on their death beds… no one says, “I wish I spent more time at the office!” Be social. Join or create social circles that support healthy behaviors. *OK, this is the one where I (as an introvert) must stretch outside my comfort zone… baby steps with some like-minded souls.
NOWHERE does it say that we must take 5-10 prescriptions medications daily, as is espoused by the pharmaceutical industry! These very vital, alive elders are celebrating many more birthdays without becoming sick and frail prematurely. I suggest that we follow their lead and put more Life into our Years, instead of merely adding “sick years” to our lives… I think the most interesting finding in the Blue Zone research is that the factors which seem to most EFFECTIVELY improve overall health, vitality AND longevity, have more to do with Non-HealthCare components listed in the OECD tables as Tobacco, Alcohol, Food consumption (fats, sugar, etc) and Body Weight. It’s ALL about healthy lifestyle choices and movement! Imagine how liberating it would feel to envision a life of vitality and purpose well into our 80’s and 90’s… It IS possible and I support this amazing new narrative!!! We create the reality that we are constantly holding in our consciousness. Instead of worrying about the current HealthCare bill in congress, I suggest that we do what WORKS! Stop worrying… get outside and move… reconnect with friends and family… and eat a smaller, sensible plant based diet (without sugar). These are PROVEN to be the most EFFECTIVE way to improve health!
Our Healthy New Narrative
Less is More! There is NO COST to do these simple lifestyle modifications; nor is any special “insurance” needed. IF a PILL could be marketed to add 10-15 extra HEALTHY years to our lives, everyone would be insisting that their healthcare provider ordered it for them. We obviously don’t need any more pills- we simply need to embrace our innate health! We are NOT broken and can make fresh choices each day! As can be seen by the Blue Zone cultures, we need NO EXPERT OR MEDICATION outside of ourselves to lead positive, empowered, and vital lives. If we are making sensible life-style choices, we don’t have to worry about the HealthCare safety net. My challenge to us all is to reclaim our “joie de vivre” and find our reason to get up each morning. In so doing, I suspect we will begin to truly FLOURISH and enjoy this crazy adventure called LIFE, so much MORE! The “experts” in Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan and even Loma Linda, CA have figured it out and are LIVING IT… so can WE!