Are you familiar with the concept of blue zone? This term is used to identify a geographic and/or demographic area of the planet where, statistically, people live longer lives owing to factors such as the lifestyle, low stress levels, natural diets and less smoking, among others.
Do you want to know which are some of the 'purest' spots on Earth? Take a look at the following places, which, who knows, might make you reconsider your destination for this summer.
1- Okinawa (Japan)
The southernmost prefecture of Japan boasts about having the highest life expectancy in the world, set at 86 years (women) and 78 (men). Plus, the Ryukyu islands gather more centenarians, over 900, than any other area of the planet, which comes as no surprise given the way Okinawans live. Most of them have a plant-based diet, including tofu, sweet potatoes and soy, and they also drink very little alcohol and barely smoke. To cap it all, Okinawans stay active until the end of their days through relaxing hobbies like gardening and, in general, seem to be delighted by life's simple pleasures. And, well, they also have fabulous beaches!
2- Ikaria (Greece)
Image by Stelios Kiousis: https://ow.ly/eDUk3017jTH
Located in the Aegean Sea, this Greek island ranks high on the list of healthful sites around the globe. It represents the greatest expression of the Mediterranean lifestyle through combining a balanced diet (with olive oil as its highest exponent!), regular exercise, social bonding and strong family ties. In addition, many Ikarians work outdoors and carry out physical activities, like harvesting, which make them burn extra calories. Such factors put them at a lower risk for life-threatening diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart conditions and even dementia.
3- Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica)
Costa Rica is jamped-pack with countless attractions that make it one of the major locations in Central America. Arenal Volcano, Puerto Viejo, the Corcovado National Park... the list of main spots to visit in such a delightful country goes on, and yet it offers an additional incentive when it comes to living a long life. Indeed, the Nicoya Peninsula, in the northwestern part of the country, is reported to have one of the highest longevity rates in the whole planet. Its inhabitants (around 75.000) have a varied diet that includes a wide range of fruits such as papaya, mango, coconut, passion fruit and cantaloupe. Many of them reach the ages of 80, 90 and, yes, a 100 too!
4- Sardinia (Italy)
The second largest island in the Mediterranean sea is also listed as one of the healthiest areas to live in; above all, if we consider the central region of Barbagia, where you can find some of the oldest people in the world. This tendency is most commonly seen in men, many of whom live off shepherding through rugged hills, which provides them with cardiovascular benefits. Not to mention that they are quite isolated and live their life at a slower pace, with a different sense of time and no deviations. Whole grain flatbread, tomatoes, garlic, greens, cheese, wine and olive oil make up their diet.
5- Vilcabamba (Ecuador)
The small village of Vilcabamba, 'hidden' in a valley that has historically been known as 'The Playground of the Inca', is shrouded in myth about longevity. This area has actually been referred to as the 'Ecuadorian Shangri-la', a place of 'eternal youth' where many residents seem to live very long lives, becoming even supercentenarians (living to the age of 110).
What's this 'sacred' place's magic recipe for ageing healthily? Apparently, this can be explained by different components that go from consumption of pristine water, organic vegetables and fruits to the fact of just living simple lives. Most locals are farmers, which allows them to feed on natural, unprocessed products, though new advancementes and the increasingly presence of tourists is already having an impact on Vilcabamban's way of living.
If you are looking for less exotic destinations, here are some other options that, despite not being as 'healthy' as the ones mentioned above, stand out for striking the balance in terms of quality health care, nutritious foods, little pollution and general relish in exercising: Copenhagen (Denmark), Zurich (Switzerland), Calgary (Canada), Monte Carlo (Monaco), Melbourne (Australia), Singapore (Singapore) and Auckland (New Zealand).
If you haven't decided where to go and spend your summer vacation yet, why don't you try something new? Maybe a trip aimed to open your mind to different (more frugal?) lifestyles? This may be a good way to reflect on the way we live and with what purpose.
Have you ever been to any of these places? If so, we'd like to hear about it!