How to live longer: Centenarians in the Blue Zone follow this diet rule – what is it?

Centenarians dotted around the world seemingly follow one rule: it’s helped them to surpass 100 years old. What is it?

The Blue Zone was identified by researcher Dan Buettner, who investigated the common threads found in those who made it to the third digit.

Clusters of centenarians live in: Icaria, Greece; Ogliastra, Sardinia Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California USA.

A lifestyle rule followed by people in the Blue Zone is known as “hara hachi bu” in Okinawa.


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It means to stop eating whenever you feel 80 percent full, rather than completely full or eating till you feel bloated.

This sensible way of eating prevents the excess consumption of calories, which can lead to weight gain and disease.

The Pacific Health Research Institute looked into this phenomenon by investigating six decades worth of archived population data on Okinawans.

They analysed data collected on those aged 65 and above, and sought out evidence of a calorie-restrictive diet.

As data references, they collected information on diet composition, energy intake, energy expenditure, mortality from age-related disease and current survival patterns.

Findings included low caloric intake, little weight gain with age, life-long low body mass index (BMI), low risk for mortality from age-related diseases, and maximum life span.

As a result, the study concluded that calorie restrictive diets in humans is consistent with healthy ageing.

If you’re a big fan of clearing up your plate, leaving some food left over may be a bit of a struggle.

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However, scientific research points towards a way in which we can curb our appetite.

The Department of Metabolic Medicine at Hammersmith Hospital, in the UK, suggests eating slowly.

Their experiment highlights how eating slowly increases a person’s level of satiety (fullness), thereby preventing overeating.

For the study, they recruited 20 overweight and obese participants who had type 2 diabetes.


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A test meal (300ml of ice cream) was provided in two different and random sessions to each participant.

The meal duration either lasted as long as 30 minutes or as quick as five minutes.

Fullness and hunger was assessed by visual analog scales, and each of the following, below, was measured at baseline:

  • Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Appetite-related gut hormones peptide YY (PYY)
  • Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), and ghrelin.

These were then measured again, at 30 minutes intervals, three hours after finishing the meal.

The data revealed that fullness ratings were significantly higher at each time interval for those who consumed the meal in 30 minutes.

Additionally, the hunger ratings were the lowest at each interval for the people who consumed the 30-minute meal.

They concluded: “Slow spaced eating increased fullness and decreased hunger ratings in overweight and obese participants.

“[Slow eating] might also curb food intake in those already suffering from obesity.”

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