Have you ever wondered how some communities across the world seem to live such long, happy, healthy lives? This can be especially perplexing when you look at the growing statistics of how many people in the US are living with things like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. While there are so many possible factors for these types of health problems, one common risk factor for Americans is abdominal obesity.
Abdominal obesity can be harmful to your health because this type of fat can actually grow around your abdominal organs, which is what can lead to more complications. And while this is common here in the states, it’s not something you see at all in the Blue Zone regions of the world.
These five regions are known as the healthiest in the world and are home to the largest concentrations of people that live beyond 100 years. These places also have some of the lowest rates of disease, which is why researchers are continually looking into their daily habits and practices.
Continue reading to learn some of the common ways these communities avoid gaining abdominal fat, and for more healthy eating tips, check out The 5 Drinks the Longest Living People Enjoy Every Day.
All five Blue Zone regions incorporate whole grains into their daily diet, which keeps their fiber levels much higher than the average person in the United States.
Dietary fiber has been known to have an array of health benefits, ranging from helping reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, lowering cholesterol, managing blood sugar, and helping to minimize abdominal fat.
In fact, one study found that increasing your daily fiber intake by 10 grams could help reduce your risk of abdominal (visceral) fat by 7.4%. Another research study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism That there is absolutely a link between greater fiber consumption and a lower risk of adiposity (abdominal obesity).
Along with whole grains, many Americans also don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables during the day, something that Blue Zone centenarians don’t seem to have a problem with. Many of these regions follow what researchers call a “Plant Slant,” meaning they fill their stomachs with mostly plant-based foods and very little meat. Because of their focus on fresh, whole foods like fruits and vegetables, many of these centenarians have avoided adiposity or abdominal weight gain.
For example, veggies like spinach, bell peppers, and broccoli have been known to help with belly fat because of their nutrient density and high fiber content. And delicious fruits like apples and berries have been found to have similar effects.
Making sure that you get enough water during the day is foundational not only for your weight loss goals but for your health in general. And the longest living people in the world make this a priority every day.
For example, the Seventh-Day Adventists of Loma, Linda (the only American Blue Zone) make sure to drink enough water throughout the day because it can lower your risk of heart disease or a heart attack. And those who have studied the region of Nicoya in Costa Rica have attributed much of this community’s longevity to its water consumption.
But research also shows that drinking water can help keep abdominal fat away as well, and one review shows that increased intake of water and hydration is associated with greater overall weight loss.
The people of Okinawa in Japan are known for their practice of hara hachi buwhich is an ancient Confucian practice of only eating until you’re 80% full at every meal.
Across the globe in Loma Linda, California, the Blue Zone Adventists often live out the saying, “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” They eat smaller portions in the evening because they like to eat more during their active hours of the day.
And lastly, you won’t normally see someone in a Blue Zone community at the gym or in a spin class. However, they still remain some of the most active people in the world because their lifestyles are built around natural movement.
In Sardinia, Italy, many people enjoy daily gardening, walking, or biking to a friend’s home. In Okinawa, people not only walk and bike to get to most places, but they sit on the floor for activities like reading, eating, and visiting with their loved ones. Because of this, Okinawans are constantly sitting and standing up throughout the day, which involves more natural movement than many of us are used to.