Man’s pursuit for comfort and convenient introduced an unhealthy lifestyle which lead to many diseases and lesser life-span. However, there are some places left in this modern world that is home to a healthy population, living longer than most people on earth.
Blue Zone refers to areas where a population lives healthier and way longer than the rest of the world. The term is coined after researchers studying the longevity in one village in Sardinia marked areas with high concentration of centenarians by drawing a blue circle on their map. To become a Blue Zone area, it must be a population or a village with residents having longer lives, not just one or two 90 year-olds. Currently, there are only 5 identified Blue Zones –
Nicoya is an 80-mile peninsula facing the Pacific. As tourism in Costa Rica flourished, Nicoya is also “rediscovered” by travelers but this region in a developing country like Costa Rica is hailed more as one of the identified Blue Zones. Like other blue zone destinations Nicoya is isolated especially before the construction of the Taiwan Friendship Bridge in 2003. To reach the peninsula, one must travel onboard a ferry crossing its crocodile-infested river.
Each Blue zone has their own secrets to longevity and in the case of Nicoya, there are at least four reasons and lessons for living longer and healthier. Plan de vida or “reason to live” where elders still find a purpose in life and a sense of belongingness within their community. Elders are need by the younger generation especially when it comes to wisdom and advices. They are highly respected in their communities. Their faith, significance in their family’s life give them enough reason to continue living.
Residents in Nicoya have a more active lifestyle. They don’t go to the gym but their daily routines involve moving from tending their farms or walking each day as they sell goods. Its isolation and lack of modern-day comforts like cars promote physical activities. Sleep helps in regeneration of cells; as many areas of the peninsula lacks electricity, many of them are already asleep by 8:30 and wakes as the sun rises.
Diet is very important in living longer. In Nicoya, they eat whole foods like rice, corn and beans. Colourful fruits that are native in the area like maraňon and anona are packed with vitamins an anti-oxidants. The waters of Nicoya Peninsula is also rich in calcium and magnesium. Drinking water and using it in cooking makes their bones stronger. Add the all-year round sun for Vitamin D and the population shows signs of osteoporosis and weak bones way later in their lives.
Nicoya residents spends only a fraction on healthcare compared to other population like the Americans yet they have the lowest cases of cancer in the world. Nicoya like other Blue Zones areas leads a path towards healthy living that we should all follow. A model to live and enjoy life. Pura Vida!