By Catherine McGeer •
Published: 12 Jul 2023 • 19:10
Embrace the Mediterranean Lifestyle and live like those in the Blue Zones.
Image: Shutterstock/ View Apart
In today’s fast-paced world, where stress and unhealthy habits prevail, the Mediterranean lifestyle offers a refreshing approach to well-being. Inspired by the traditional habits of people living in countries such as Greece, Italy, and Spain, the Mediterranean way of life encompasses more than just a diet. It is a holistic approach that emphasises a wholesome diet, social engagement, and the joy of simple pleasures. As we delve into the various aspects of the Mediterranean lifestyle, we discover how it can contribute to improved health, both physically and mentally.
At the core of the Mediterranean lifestyle is a delicious and nutritious diet that has been scientifically proven to promote good health. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and olive oil while incorporating moderate amounts of fish, poultry, and dairy. This diet is low in red meat, processed foods, and saturated fats, making it heart-friendly and helping to prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular ailments and type 2 diabetes. The abundance of antioxidants, fibre, and healthy fats found in Mediterranean cuisine nourishes the body Improving brain and gut health and promoting weight loss, providing a wide range of essential nutrients.
The Blue Zones, regions around the world where people live the longest and healthiest lives, have shed light on the power of lifestyle choices in promoting longevity. One striking similarity among these Blue Zones, such as Ikaria in Greece and Sardinia in Italy, is the adherence to a Mediterranean plant-based diet. The emphasis on plant-based foods in the Mediterranean diet contributes to the overall well-being and longevity observed in the Blue Zones.
Another simple tip, people that live in Blue Zones don’t typically eat after late afternoon. This is also reflected in the Mediterranean lifestyle with the main meal eaten around 2 pm after which some sleep the ‘siesta’ and then just have something light to eat in the evening.
Another key element of the Mediterranean lifestyle is the emphasis on social interaction. In Mediterranean cultures, meals are seen as a time to gather with family and friends, fostering strong social connections. This communal approach to eating has numerous benefits for overall well-being. Engaging in conversations and sharing laughter not only reduces stress but also helps combat loneliness and depression. Research suggests that individuals who maintain strong social ties have a lower risk of cognitive decline and enjoy better mental health. Another Blue Zone tip is to be part of a community that influences you to live healthily!
An intriguing aspect of the Mediterranean lifestyle is the tradition of ‘sobremesa.’ This term, originating from Spain,(literally means on the table) refers to the leisurely time spent at the table after a meal, conversing with loved ones. Sobremesa encapsulates the relaxed and unhurried approach to life that characterises the Mediterranean way of living. Recent studies have shed light on the positive impact of sobremesa on brain health. Engaging in meaningful conversations and mental stimulation during this post-meal period has been linked to improved cognitive function, memory retention, and creativity. So, the next time you enjoy a Mediterranean meal, don’t rush off. Stay a while and savour the delightful conversations that nourish not only the soul but also the brain.
While the Mediterranean diet plays a vital role in maintaining health, the lifestyle also encourages regular physical activity. Whether it’s taking a stroll or engaging in outdoor activities, such as swimming or hiking, the Mediterranean region offers ample opportunities for an active lifestyle. Exercise not only strengthens the body but also stimulates the mind, promoting mental clarity and reducing the risk of cognitive decline. The combination of a nutrient-rich diet and an active lifestyle forms a potent recipe for a healthy brain and body. Daily physical activity is built into the lifestyle of those living in the world’s Blue Zones.
The Mediterranean lifestyle is a harmonious blend of nutritious food, social engagement, and a relaxed pace of life. By adopting the Mediterranean approach, we can reap the benefits of reduced chronic disease risks, improved mental well-being, and enhanced brain health. Let’s embrace the Mediterranean lifestyle, savour its flavours, cherish our loved ones, and find joy in the simple pleasures of life. Remember, good health is not just about what we eat but how we live.
For more information about Blue Zones click here
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I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!
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