PRACTICE: IMPOSSIBLE™

025 - Blue Zones Demystified - Will You Be a Centenarian?

February 24, 2022 Coach JPMD Season 1 Episode 25
PRACTICE: IMPOSSIBLE™
025 - Blue Zones Demystified - Will You Be a Centenarian?
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, join Coach JPMD as he provides an overview of the research done by Dan Beuttner and The Blue Zones.  Blue Zones are the areas described by Mr Beuttner as having the highest concentration of centenarians in the world.  You will learn how you can implement “Power Nine” features into your own life and community. This book also includes recipes made with ingredients linked to longevity in Blue Zones around the world.  Don’t forget to leave a review and tell me what you think about this episode.

Show Notes

Intro  0:00  
Welcome to the practice impossible podcast where your host, Jude Pierre MD, also known as Coach JPMD discusses medical practice topics that will guide you through the maze that is the business of medicine, and teach you how to increase profits and help populations live long. Your mission should you choose to accept is to listen and be transformed. Now, here's your host, Coach JPMD.

Coach JPMD  0:24  
Thank you so much for listening to the practice impossible podcast with me your host to Coach JPMD. And I wanted to thank you, and also remind you to leave a feedback if you haven't done so if you can pause this episode right now. And just leave me a review. Let me know what you think about the podcast. And let me know what topics you'd like to hear from or hear about in the in the future, that really would help me understand how I can provide even more value to you. So today's episode is a is a different episode. And it's somewhat of a podcast book review, which I'm not even sure if that's the thing, but I'm making it a thing this time. So as you know, my mission is to help populations live long by increasing physician awareness of spiritual, mental and physical health globally. And this is something that's been dear to my heart, knowing that the physicians struggle, and we all struggle with different stresses, and especially during the COVID times, and one of the things that we can do to help our patients is to really help ourselves first. And how do we do that? Well we learn, we go to school, we read books, we talk to other people, and I'll talk about that in episode one, where there are seven different areas of our lives that we can improve on, to really help ourselves help our patients even even more. And one of the things that over the past couple of years I've been researching and looking into was, and is life expectancy tables around the world. And if you look at life expectancy, you would think the United States actually ranks number one or number five in the world as far as life expectancy is concerned. And it was, to my surprise, probably about 10 years ago, I did the research and looked online. And currently, there's a website called worldometers.info, it's www.worldometers.info, and I'll leave the URL in the show notes. But it pretty much gathers data around the world from around the world. And the data is similar to the data that said to a World Health Organization. And the United States actually let ranks number 46 in the world, in terms of life expectancy, so an average person in the United States actually is expected to live 79.11 years. That's pretty bad. So you might wonder, okay, who's living the longest in the world? Well, people who live in Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, I had to look that one up, by the way, have Macau is actually a territory in China that was actually owned by the Portuguese at one point. That's a whole other story. So you know, that's the top three, and I'll list out the top 10 on this list, Switzerland, number four, Singapore and number five, Italy, number six, Spain, Australia, number eight, Channel Islands in the English Channel, and Iceland. So that's the top 10 countries in the world that have the highest life expectancy, with Hong Kong being number one, with a life expectancy for both sexes at 85.29. Now, if that doesn't give you some pause, not sure what will because here we are in the richest country in the world, the most powerful nation in the world, ranking number 46 life expectancy table. So when I learned that I actually started to do some research on what are the countries doing that, that make us different? And I came across the blue zone solutions, or the blue zones. And there's a book called The Blue Zone solutions that are written by Dan Buettner that I wanted to kind of highlight or give you some highlights or the cliff notes of the book. It's a great book I've been telling patients, or suggesting that patients read this book, because it gives such insight on what countries or where people live the longest, and what they do in those regions. So essentially, it's a research compilation of countries where their people lived to be older than 100 more than the rest of the world. So the highest concentration of centenarians in the world. And what were the those countries? Well, Icaria, Greece, Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, the adventus, Seven Day Adventist community in Loma Linda, California, which was the only blue zone in the United States and Nicoya Peninsula. I think it's Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. So those are the five blue zones that Dan Buettner and his colleagues and his researchers found and what they did was they went to these areas and they detailed. What were some of the characteristics of all of those areas that had the centenarians, and how common were those characteristics in other areas where they had high levels or high concentration of centenarians. And what they came up with was the power nine, and nine things that that were common in all of those regions. And I'm just going to list them out, I encourage you to read the book, I actually read the book, and then did an audiobook. And now I'm just going back and doing some research. Just because it's so impactful to what I've been doing over the past couple of years in my life, and what I think you can help your patients to, to help them live long. The one thing that they found was that people who lived the longest moved naturally, meaning that they didn't go to the gym, they didn't have treadmills and they have steppers, they just move naturally, they walked to the markets, they walked up hills, they garden, so they move naturally, they had a purpose. The second thing that, you know, they they didn't live life, not knowing what they wanted to do. They all had a purpose that was bigger than what they were doing in their profession. And that I believe the research has said that that was worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy. So when you have a purpose when you have a vision of what you want to do beyond what your work life is, that helps you live on. 

The third thing was that they downshifted and downshifting meant different things in different areas. Some people take naps in the afternoon, some had wine in the afternoon, some hung out with family or friends. And it's something that I remember doing growing up in Haiti, where, you know, in, in the afternoons, we we took naps, sometimes we call them siestes. I don't know if they have that in, in Latin American countries. But it's something that that was done routinely, particularly on the weekends. But I remember my parents would come home early from work, and they would just nap in the afternoon. And that was something very common. The fourth thing that they described in the book was the 80%, what they call the 80% rule. And in one area, they developed habit, when there they were eating, to stop eating when they were 80%. Full. And what that does, does, it helps it brains catch up to where their stomachs are, and helps them not overeat. And that's something I found very interesting because, you know, I eat until I'm really full. But if you eat slower, and you let the food kind of digest, you tend to realize that you don't have to eat as much as you do. And, and there's a saying that they use in the book that the Okinawans use is Hara hachi bu means it's a mantra that said before meals that reminds people to stop when they're 80% full. So that was something I learned. It's pretty interesting. There's plant slant is what they call it. Number five, where they eat mainly legumes and plant based diets. So that includes beans, which was very common in all of the regions, as well as soy, lentil. Those are somewhat, those were like the cornerstones of the diets. And that's not to say that they didn't eat any meat. But it there was definitely a plant slant. Number six was that they drink wine. So in all of the Blue Zones, and even some of the Adventists they drink one to two glasses of wine daily. And I think most of the wines that they they speak about in the book hard red wines, which has the resveratrol, which helps promote good memory and cellular function. So that's interesting. The seventh thing that they talked about was the right tribe. The Okinawa's call their tribes, the Moais, and that's moais, basically a group of friends that go through life together, through the ups and the downs. And they're the people that would help their tribe, tribe people to eat healthy to de stress, to help them motivate them to walk and exercise and maybe I shouldn't say exercise people walk or or be active. And that brings me to something I've been kind of trying to help my kids understand. And that is, you are the the average of the five people that you hang out with. I don't know if I've said this on the podcast before but if you hang out with five people that are obese, eating the wrong foods, not working out or not or overeating over drinking, then you're going to be the average of those people. If you hang out with five people that are powerful, have a purpose, are physically active, and are really doing things to help change the world, then you'll be the average of those five people. So my recommendation based on this book and based on what I've experienced is, find five people or find four people that can encourage you to push you to do the right thing in your health in your personal life, your spiritual life, mental health. Because if you hang out with five people that are very depressed, very angry or very negative, then you're going to be the average of those negative people. So figure out the right tribe, as they say, in this book, community. Community is the eighth thing that they found. And one of the things that they found was that most all of the centenarians in those blue zones had a faith based community that they belong to. And it didn't matter what religion that they were involved in. And this is something we discussed in the episode with Zach Elliot, I think it was episode six, or religion and longevity, and how that can help populations live on. And that was shown to add 4 to 14 years of life expectancy in the blue zone communities.

And lastly, the ninth power nine characteristics of the Blue Zone was that they put loved ones first. And I think that's, that's the most important for me, putting things in order successful. I'm going to quote this in the book because it has had powerful, successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first, they keep ageing parents and grandparents nearby or in the home, which also lowers disease and mortality rates of their children. So that is something that I think if we look at the blue zones, and we look at the power nine, I think, again, another quote from the book, was that what we discovered or what they discovered was that in every Blue Zone, the path to a long healthy life comes from creating an environment around yourself, your family and your community that nudges you into following the right behaviours suddenly and relentlessly, just as the Blue Zones do for their populations. Pretty neat stuff. So that was a power of nine. So what I really found really interesting and I listed seven things that I found pretty interesting was that here, there are certain foods that we should all be eating. And I'm going to go through each blue zone and kind of give you the, what they found was the top food, or the superfood that the centenarians ate, that helped them and Icaria, Greece it was olive oil, and Okinawa, Japan, it was bitter melon. And you can look at these fruits out but I think bitter melon is something that I've never even eaten before. But Okinawans also eat a lot of sweet potato, in Sardinia, Sardinia, Italy, a drink and eat a lot of goat, and sheep milk and cheese, which helps lower LDL cholesterol, and it has anti inflammatory properties as well. In the Adventist community in Loma Linda, California, they eat lots of avocados in the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. They they eat myxoma. And it's really their version of the tortilla that they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And one of the things that they do is that they take the corn before they make the flour, and they put the corn in lime and water and then grind the flour. And that supposedly releases or apparently releases some of the nutrients in the corn, that increases the body's ability to actually absorb this corn. So that's a pretty interesting thing that they do. And it's not something that is usually done in commercially available tortillas in this country. Obviously there are other foods that they eat in the Blue Zones, but I can't give you everything in this podcast so you can find out in the book. Another thing that I learned was that food intake has to be balanced. And that's something that I I kind of kind of had to learn the hard way about a year and a half, two years ago actually started my journey towards a plant based diet or mostly plant based diet. And I did add fish to that, or seafood. And what I noticed after about a year and a half was I was getting severe reflux, reflux that would actually last all day and kind of kind of worried me. And I called my my local gastroenterologist Dr. Muftah. And he said aw Jude just take some tums and some Prilosec and take it for six weeks and that should help. And I did that for a couple of days and actually it didn't help at all. And I was like what is going on here? Do I need an upper endoscopy? Do I need a upper gi series? Do I have a stricture in my esophagus causing all kinds of trouble swallowing with some gas pains it would actually get better with with soda gingerale and I said I can't keep doing this for the rest of my life. This is impossible, then my wife was like, maybe it's your diet, maybe you're lacking something in your diet. And I'm, like, interesting. So I then realized that I was eating a lot of carbs. And although I was calling myself saying I'm eating a plant based diet, I was still eating some pastas and lots of rice and, and no meat, no chicken, no eggs. And I think I was lacking some nutrients. So I shifted, moved to mainly a plant based diet, but I added, I added eggs to that diet, and but I also added some kombucha, which introduced some probiotics in my in my diet, and actually my reflux improved. So I think eating a balanced diet that has all the nutrients that you need, as as described in the blue zone, where you know, you can eat beans, but if you eat beans and rice that actually complements each other and actually decreases the glycemic load of the rice when you when you couple it with beans, very interesting stuff. I think we talked about relationships and longevity is linked to relationships. And I think that was fascinating to read about.

And another thing they talked about was, you know, you don't have to say the... I can't say that word. But the words that the Okinawans say before they eat, and it, you know, we say grace, well, at least we try to say grace and before every meal. And I think just being thankful for the meal that you have, allows you to pause and reflect on what you're eating, how are you going to eat it, how it's going to nourish your body. And I think that can be linked to longevity as well. Recently, I actually signed up for a gym membership. And I am second guessing that now after reading this book, because it really is not about going to the gym, and working out. It's about being active and doing things that are going to keep you moving. And one of the things I do is play soccer at least once or twice a week. And that helps kill two birds with one stone because I'm able to socialize and talk trash with the other want to be soccer players, or professional soccer players. And so I think it helps me stay active and, and keep my brain functioning at a at a high level. I think I talked about the beans and how they're super foods and all the Blue Zones actually consumed a lot of beans. And that's something I did not know. So how can Blue Zones crop up in the US? Well, that's already started and with, with the work that the blue zone Solutions team is doing, they actually started that in a couple years ago. And one of the communities that they started a project where they introduce some of the things that were that were being done in the Blue Zones. They introduce them into communities in Minnesota, I think one of the one of the first communities was the Albert Leia community in Minnesota, that helped that community, improve their life and improved rates of obesity, and which in turn will decrease rates of diabetes and decreased rates of hypertension, and lead to increase in life expectancy. So I think that's, that's my next project. I think, just understanding what we can do in our communities to help our populations live long. Because I think it's, it's through the work that we do in our personal lives, and our family lives that we can then translate to our professional lives in our lives or the lives of our patients. So I encourage you to read the book, get the book, to the audio book, if you can. I don't get anything from from promoting the book. But I just want to, I just wanted to share this knowledge that I've gotten I've gained from reading it. And hopefully in the near future, I can have someone from the blue zone solutions project on the podcast. So you can ask them questions and see where they are in their progress. But I also wanted to share one last thing with you guys. And that is the there is a live longer, better vitality test. And it's a test that will that was developed in collaboration with the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and essentially calculates your life expectancy, and how long you'll stay healthy and send you some personalized recommendations. Again, I thought this was pretty neat, and maybe I'll share some of my results with you online. But go ahead and take the test. I'll leave the link to the tests on in the show notes so that you guys can do some homework and see how your current life style will help you live longer or shorter. So as I said in the beginning, leave a review. Let me know what you think about this episode and any of the other episodes that you've listened to. And if you think this was not too helpful, leave that also. So I know not to ever do a book review again. But hope you enjoyed it. And we'll see you in two weeks with another episode of the practice impossible podcast and we thank you for listening. And please do share this episode with your friends.