Blue Zone guts are pretty impressive. I’m not talking about the bellies in the Labatt section of the stadium, either. I mean the global blue zones: places around the world where inhabitants regularly live in good health to over 100 years old.
Gut heath is dominating conversations about health and longevity. And why shouldn’t it? Research shows the microbial population living in your gut – your microbiome – can play a role in immune strength, mood, inflammation, and cognitive function.
What’s really cool is that people living in blue zones live in entirely different environments. They live in different parts of the world, eat different foods, and come from different cultures. But they share health and longevity.
And it might have to do with, among other things, gut health.
Here are a few things that may contribute to blue zone gut health:
Eating More Whole Grains, Nuts, Veggies, and Fresh Fruit: All of these things are rich in fiber, which feed good gut microbes. These microbes help you maintain a diverse and strong microbiome.
Beans may have some extra benefit, too. Some data suggest that a cup of beans per day may add as many as four years to life expectancy.
Besides fiber, all of these foods are nutritionally rich and feature inflammation-fighting antioxidants.
Fermented Foods: Fermented foods seem to be another common feature of Blue zones. They can help increase the population of good bacteria, preventing chronic inflammation.
Plenty of Polyphenols: Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds that may help protect cells from damage in various ways. Many of the blue zones have abundant natural sources of these polyphenols, which show up repeatedly in the foods they eat.
Some examples include coffee, berries, nuts, and spinach.
Low in Processed Foods: People in these areas do not eat many processed foods. That means their diets are rather low in sugar, and most added sweetness comes from sources like honey. Processed foods and high levels of added sugar can contribute to a very unhealthy gut.
Instead of salt, food is more likely to be seasoned with healthier options like turmeric, garlic, ginger, and others.
Gut health and diet aren’t likely to be the only reasons that add length to people’s lives in blue zones, but they are modifiable factors that you might be able to implement.