Why do some people live well into their nineties with zero health problems, while others get sidelined by diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune conditions? Sure, your genes play a role, but it’s your lifestyle that pulls the biggest lever. If you’ve followed the Primal Blueprint for more than a minute, you know it’s possible to reprogram your genes, regardless of what health struggles your parents or their parents faced. As a health coach, and someone who fully intends to become a centenarian one day, I’m fascinated by cultures who have their diet and lifestyle totally dialed in. Take the Blue Zones, for instance. These regions are spread throughout the world — but it’s not where they’re located that’s so important, it’s more about what the locals do on the daily that makes the biggest impact on their health. What’s Up with Blue Zones? Named by Dan Buettner, the National Geographic journalist who studied them, Blue Zones are five regions where people are known to live healthier and longer than anywhere else in the world, reaching the age of 100 at a significantly greater rate than most folks living in North America. Despite being scattered throughout the globe (the zones are in Greece, Italy, Japan, Costa Rica, and southern California), they share nine key lifestyle habits, including: Move naturally Have a clear sense of purpose Manage stress Eat ‘til you’re 80% full Consume a plant-based diet (stay with me here…) Drink in moderation Be part of a community Put family first Maintain a fulfilling social life I’m not saying you should drop your carnivore diet for one rich in grains and legumes, but you can’t argue with the fact that certain behavioural, societal, and environmental factors play a huge role in health and lifespan. Is It Genetics or Lifestyle? The study that fueled Buettner’s research was this one published in 1996, which evaluated 2872 pairs of Danish twins over a thirty-year period. Researchers looked at a variety of genetic and lifestyle influences and determined that only about 20% of how long you live is dictated by your genes, where the other 80% is all about lifestyle. Since then, more and more studies continue to roll out confirming his findings. Like this one that analyzed the DNA methylation levels of 318 men and women, ages 65-105, revealing that epigenetic control in aging had less to do with the participants’ chronological age and more to do with how they lived their life. Not only that, recent studies exposed the grim consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, showing how factors including stress, isolation, and lacking purpose had a direct correlation to a decline in mental and physical health. According to research, loneliness shaves fifteen years off your life expectancy – roughly the same impact as being obese or smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Since Buettner’s research has been out, several cities have adopted the Blue Zone principals and seen dramatic results. They’ve implemented these nine secrets of longevity to make it easier … Continue reading “What We Can Learn from World’s Longest Living Populations”
This is a beginner’s walking routine. A beginning beginner. If you’re starting from a full sedentary life, this is for you. If you can walk but you generally don’t “go for walks,” this is for you. You may shop in grocery stores, trundle down to the mail box, take the garbage out, walk from your car to the office, but you’re not hiking, walking to the post office, taking strolls around the block, logging 10,000 steps a day.
Make no mistake, walking is truly exercise and must be approached as such.
People who ask me how to get started with exercise are surprised when I say: Just f**king walk. That’s it. Go for a walk. Start walking. Get moving. The responses are pretty similar across the board.
Isn’t exercise supposed to be hard? Yeah, but you build up to that.
Isn’t walking too easy? Sure, and that’s the whole point of doing it.
Is walking even exercise? Absolutely. It’s the foundation of every human movement pattern. You gotta walk before you run, swim, sprint, lift, cycle, row, paddle, play Ultimate frisbee, and everything else.
You’ve heard of the Mediterranean diet, no doubt. Perhaps your doctor has tried to turn you onto it. Maybe your parents or co-workers are using it to lose weight and normalize blood pressure. Read a popular treatise on the “Mediterranean Diet” and this is what it’ll have you eating:
Whole grain pasta
Whole wheat bread
Bushels of vegetables
Bunch of beans
Wild bitter greens (salad)
Fish a couple times a week
A cube or two of hard cheese
Drizzle of olive oil on everything
Glass of red wine
Few scraps of meat if they’re lucky
It’s low-fat and low-protein, especially animal protein. It’s high-carb. It’s rich in grains and legumes, low in meat and dairy. And it’s based on the dietary patterns researchers observed after visiting post-WW2 Italy and Greece. These were real patterns, actual observations.
But is it really the traditional Mediterranean diet?
The liver is incredible. Most people think of it as a filter, but filters are physical barriers that accumulate junk and have to be cleaned. The liver isn’t a filter. It’s a chemical processing plant. Rather than sit there, passively receiving, filtering out, and storing undesirable compounds, the liver encounters toxic chemicals and attempts to metabolize them into less-toxic metabolites that we can handle.
It oxidizes the toxins, preparing them for further modification
It converts the toxins to a less-toxic, water-soluble version that’s easier to excrete
It excretes the toxins through feces or urine
Bam. It’s an elegant process, provided everything is working well back there. And it’s not the only process it controls.
Great news: If you’re already using collagen peptides for your hair, skin, and nails, you’re likely getting a bunch of other whole-body benefits.
Clearly we humans are meant to consume a good amount of collagen. Our ancestors ate nose-to-tail, consuming skin and connective tissue, and boiling down bones to make broth. Gelatin and collagen would have been abundant in the human diet. They provide amino acids needed for a dizzying array of metabolic functions. The amino acids also serve as blocks for collagen in the body.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, providing structure and support for the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. Crucially, we need glycine from collagen to balance the lifespan-shortening effects of methionine in meat.
Today I’m going to highlight some potential benefits that have nothing to do with skin, nails, or hair. I’ll say up front that I’m firmly on the pro-collagen train. I’ve noticed great results personally from taking it. That said, I’m not trying to make wild claims about collagen as a miracle supplement. These are areas of research I’m watching with interest. I hope to see more studies that help us understand when, why, and how collagen is most useful.
The way it’s reported, you’d think that susceptibility to COVID-19 severity is equally distributed across the world’s population. But when you compare case and mortality rates between countries, differences emerge. There are even differences within countries and states and cities. It’s clear that other variables besides simple exposure to the virus and infection are at play. Research continues to emerge regarding risk factors for severe COVID-19.
What are they?
And, more importantly, can you modify any of the variables?