Menopause and Healthy Aging Tips from the “Blue Zones”
In the quest for healthier, longer lives, the inhabitants of "Blue Zones" have long been a subject of fascination. These regions, where people seem to age more gracefully and live to be 100 years old or greater. These five regions include Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California and are the subject of Dan Buettner's popular Netflix documentary, Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones.
As we seek to understand and navigate the complexities of menopause, the women in the "Blue Zones" offer a unique perspective on various aspects of life, including menopause.
Here are the four biggest takeaways from the Blue Zones that can support your (peri) menopausal journey:
Eat More Plants:
Embrace nutrient-dense foods like nuts, legumes, and whole grains. Explore plant-based diets such as the Okinawan and Mediterranean Diets, known for their anti-inflammatory benefits that can aid in managing menopausal symptoms. Add some extra virgin olive oil -- considered to be the ‘gold-standard’ for preventing inflammation and improving brain health, or try some sweet potato (orange and purple) or seaweed in your next dish.
Move Every Day:
Regular movement is paramount. Take the stairs more, schedule walking meetings to get up from your desk, and incorporate weight bearing movements into your routine. Small, consistent changes over time can create an environment that supports your health and resilience during menopause.
Follow the Blue Zone approach—rise with the sun, sleep with the night. Try to get some morning sunlight in your face to help regulate your circadian rhythms. Aim for 8-10 hours of sleep (we know this can be a big challenge during peri menopause!), and consider a nap if you are able to manage stress, brain fog and support overall well-being.
Recognize the power of friendship and community during menopause. Cultivate close relationships, and consider the Okinawan concept of 'Moai' where individuals form supportive social circles that bring joy, contribute to stress reduction and overall well-being.
As women transition through (peri) menopause, embracing the lessons from Blue Zones offers a holistic approach to well-being. By incorporating plant-based nutrition, purposeful movement, quality sleep, and nurturing social connections, menopausal women can draw inspiration from the remarkable longevity and vitality observed in Blue Zone communities.
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