What I Ate Today #14

Good morning, all you beautiful Internet people out there! How the hell are ya? My bedhead and I are feeling pretty good despite not having any solid food for 32 hours or so. Maybe there’s something to that “intermittent fasting” thing that so many folks keep talking about.

Living Longer & Staying Healthy

I said yesterday that I’d hoped that I’d use my extra time to share some other things here besides what I’m eating. Today, I’m going to try harder. Starting with a link to this article about the health benefits of living in a “Blue Zone”. Basically, Blue Zones are places were, statistically speaking, people tend to live longer and healthier than average. Places that have the highest concentrations of centegenarians (people who live to be 100 years and older).

I liked the article because it emphasises the importance of your your physical and social environment. I was thinking about this yesterday when I was in the supermarket, walking past the display of Krispy Kremes, chocolate chip cookies, and heavily-discounted chocolate bars at the check-out. They never try to tempt you with a basket of apples for that last-minute purchase, do they? There’s always plenty of talk about personal responsibility, but often without consideration with how many factors in our immediate environments are deliberately setting us up for failure.

The article also talks about the factors these Blue Zones have in common, and things that are generally helpful for living healthier. Most of them probably aren’t surprising. Eating healthier, moving more, having friends, reducing long-term stress, etc. but it’s interesting to think about how they all fit together, and how many of them can’t be done individually. This article lists the nine lifestyle habits of the healthiest, longest-lived people:

  1. Natural movement — not working out or exercising, just walking around and getting stuff done.
  2. Living with purpose — apparently just feeling a sense of purpose can add up to 7 years to your life.
  3. Chill out — take at least a few minutes every day to relax and reduce stress–meditation, prayer, a nap, etc.
  4. Eat plants–either vegetarian or relatively low meat consumption.
  5. Not too much–eating until you feel 80% full. To be honest, I don’t know how they can tell.
  6. A little wine–1 or 2 glasses per day, with a meal, and preferably with friends.
  7. A little faith–apparently people who regularly go to church live longer. I’m an atheist, but I can see value in being involved in a non-religious alternative.
  8. Family–it turns out that building and maintaining good relationships with your family–parents, siblings, spouse, children, etc. has health benefits. Who knew?
  9. Find your tribe–habits (good and bad) are contageous. Hanging out with people who live healthier lifestyles, and support and encourage you to do the same, is good for you.

I’m not entirely convinced that these “Blue Zones” are quite as awesome as claimed. I mean, there’s still plenty of fast food and freeways in Loma Linda, and even in Owinawa. But I understand that all these beneficial factors are on a spectrum, and even small advantages can make a big difference. Like the way my wife prepping my veggies makes it easier for me, and has resulted in a HUGE increase in the amount of vegetables I’m eating. Or when there was a Dominos only a 3 minute walk from our house, we ate a lot more pizza. One of the cool things about living there was that the shops were only a 3 minute walk from home. But it might’ve had a more positive impact on our health if those shops hadn’t consisted of a pizza joint, a convenience store, and a liquor store (with an awesome selection of whiskies, many of which were also not healthy for my bank account).

Would it have been better if those nearby shops had offered more healthy food options? Probably. Would it have been even better for our health if we’d been friends with many of our neighbours, and regularly got together for BBQs, dinner parties, potlucks, or whatever? Yeah, more than likely. And it’s entirely possible that it would’ve been better if I’d visited that bottle shop to buy a couple of bottles of wine to share with dinner at the neighbours’ instead of a bottle of very fine bourbon that I’d drink while binging Ted Lasso. That makes sense.

Song of the Day

I guess all this reading about the value of our social environment made me think of this song. Enjoy, beautiful Internet people. Take care of yourselves. And each other.

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