As this is a community of Paleo eaters and one of our collective goals is to optimize longevity, I'm going to assume that more than a few of you have come across literature regarding the so called blue zones; areas of the world where people commonly live past 100 years.
My question is a simple one really. What is the Paleo community take on these people? Has any "heavyweight" in the Paleo diet community taken the time to compare what these people are doing with the Paleo lifestyle? Can we learn something significant from them?
One of the supprising elements I read was that every one of these populations eat legumes! Which ever since I started eating Paleo I have regarded as slightly bad for you and therefore better avoided.
They eat real food, don't live in a toxic stress environment, and have really tight-knit communities/friends/families.
There's more to the "paleo" lifestyle than diet. Or even diet and exercise. It should be (in my opinion) all about stripping away non-essentials and focusing on what's really important - meaningful experiences and relationships. We should all be focusing more on these elements and less on trying to find the "one" right diet. If we all focus on this bigger picture, then I think there's a lot of similarities between the paleo community and these Blue Zones.
Diet is but one factor in blue zones. Intact communities are crucial, along with strong faith traditions that provide a sense of the individual's place in the cosmos and the clan's place as well. Mindset is a huge factor in health longevity. Check out Seligman's positive-psychology studies in the importance of "explanatory style." And look into Ellen Langer's seminal 1979 "counterclockwise study" where men in their 70s and older agreed to live for a week in a residential setting as if it were 20 years earlier. Striking before-and-after measures, including hearing improvement, strength, dexterity, agility. No dietary or exercise interventions, by the way. The men simply lived in a setting where all the prompts (physical, visual, old tv and radio shows, Look magazine issues) were 1959. They talked to one another as if 1959 were "right now," not "back then."
I try to think of what Ayla would NOT have eaten personally. I eat beans to vary the protein intake and keeps enough carbs in me to keep me sane. I moved far away from my mother and sister and I think close knit family is more important than diet. Gosh I've had a few compulsive eating episodes because I've missed them. I'm not the model of Paleo diet more like if Ayla could go on vacation in the West Indies hehe.