There is a wealth of nutritional and health knowledge available today, but we might all agree on one basic point: what you consume matters. That much is obvious after reading through a number of studies and articles and viewpoints. Food is medicine, and like any medication, it has the ability to strengthen your body’s performance.
Food, for example, may help you live to be over 100 years old. There have been 70,000 Americans that celebrated their 100th birthday as of 2021—and what they eat has a lot more to do with it than you’d think. The Blue Zones project has looked at how centenarians manage to live so long; its research centers on five “blue zone” communities where people enjoy the longest life expectancies in the world.
From Okinawa, Japan to the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, the individuals in these communities exhibit a variety of activities that improve their longevity. Community, mentality, and movement are all crucial factors. However, there is no match for the nutrients supplied by the foods they nourish themselves with. We delved into it further and uncovered the top five eating habits shared by centenarians.
1 — They go by the 80% rule.
The 80% kitchen, 20% gym maxim is well-known, but this is a new 80%, dating back 2,500 years. It’s apparently connected to a Confucian saying called “hara hachi bu” in Okinawa, which advises you to stop eating when you’re 80 percent full. As the Blue Zone initiative points out, “the 20% difference between feeling full and not being hungry might be the difference between gaining weight or losing it.”
2 — They eat less and less as the day goes on.
Intermittent fasting is a form of eating window management that restricts food intake to a specific period each day. Intermittent fasting may be done at any time during the day, although it’s typically done in the afternoon or evening. The idea here is that as the day progresses, humans should consume fewer calories. People in Blue Zones tend to consume their smallest meal last—and not particularly late at night—and then do not eat for the rest of the day. It’s excellent news for those who enjoy hearty breakfasts!
3 — They load up on beans.
Beans, beans, the wonderful fruit. It appears that their magic extends all the way to longevity—a bean-rich diet is the foundation of most centenarian lifestyles. This might include fava beans, black beans, soybeans and lentils.
4 — They eat meat sparingly.
Given the growing cultural shift away from meat to plant-based diets, it’s perhaps not so surprising. On average, people in blue zones eat meat just five times each month. What may surprise you, though, is that pork is the most prevalent type of meat consumed.
5 — They keep serving sizes small.
Here’s another health hack that has been hyped on many channels, but the centenarians confirmed it: serving size is important. According to the Blue Zone Project, the serving sizes are normally kept at 3 to 4 ounces, which is approximately the size of a deck of cards.