In recent years, the concept of Blue Zones has become increasingly popular among health enthusiasts and researchers. Blue Zones are regions of the world where people live longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives than anywhere else, with the highest percentage of centenarians. The five identified blue zones include Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece; and the Seventh-day Adventists community in Loma Linda, California. These regions have been studied extensively by scientists, who have identified several key factors that contribute to the exceptional health and longevity of the people who live there.
Costa Rica’s Blue Zone of Nicoya Peninsula is located in the northwestern region of the country and has a population of around 160,000 people according to 2011 census data. Residents in this region have an average life expectancy of 90+, which is significantly higher than the average life expectancy of the rest of the country. And as noted prior, to qualify as a Blue Zone the area also has a very high percentage of centenarians. So, what makes the Nicoyan lifestyle so unique and beneficial?
One of the main reasons Nicoyans have a high life expectancy is due to their diet. Their diet consists mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans. They also consume a lot of water, which is essential for the proper functioning of the body. In addition, Nicoyans eat a lot of corn tortillas, which are made with calcium-rich corn, providing their bodies with the necessary nutrients for healthy bones and teeth. What is not seen in large amounts in their diets are meats, added fats, or dairy products.
Physical activity is another crucial factor in Nicoyan’s longevity. Most Nicoyans have active lifestyles and engage in physical activities such as walking, biking, and gardening. An active lifestyle promotes good health and keeps the body fit, which reduces the risk of chronic diseases.
Nicoyans also have strong social connections and support systems, which contribute to their overall well-being. The tight-knit communities in Nicoya provide a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning to their lives. These social connections help reduce stress levels and promote mental health, leading to a longer life. I recently heard it called their “plan de vida” (reason to live).
While living in Nicoya may not be practical for everyone, adopting some of their healthy lifestyle habits can benefit anyone living in Costa Rica and beyond. Incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans into your diet can improve overall health. Engaging in physical activities, such as walking, hiking, or biking, can also help maintain healthy body weight and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Joining local communities and engaging in social activities can help promote mental health and reduce stress levels.
Costa Rica, as a whole, offers many opportunities for adopting a healthy lifestyle. The country is known for its lush tropical rainforests and breathtaking beaches, which provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities. The country’s rich biodiversity offers a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are available year-round. The Costa Rican government has also taken significant steps to protect the environment, which benefits its citizens’ overall health.
Looking to explore Costa Rica’s Blue Zone, or experience the health and lifestyle benefits of this incredible country? Your Pura Vida is here to help you thrive!
And as always “Pura Vida” – or in this case, let’s help you discover your plan de vida!