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    The role of stress reduction in Blue Zones

      |  Nov 15, 2023

    The lasting effects of stress

    Stress doesn’t just feel bad, it does harm to our bodies. Stress, mental and physical, can cause inflammation in your cells. When cells are inflamed, they’re not able to function properly, and this can lead to symptoms and chronic illnesses like fatigue, inflammation, and even cancer. All of us experience stress at some point — it’s a natural part of life — but how you manage stress on a daily basis can make a huge difference for your current and future health.

    For tips on how to reduce stress, why not look to the people on Earth who live the longest, healthiest lives? These people live in the world’s five Blue Zones: places across the globe where the population regularly lives past 90 years old. Discovered by Dan Buettner, the Blue Zones represent a wide range of people who all share common habits, and make successfully managing stress a part of everyday life.

    How to reduce stress like a Blue Zone resident

    Create strong social connections

    While some Blue Zones might be literal islands, no man (or woman) is an island in the world’s Blue Zones. Community is key to life in these regions, both formal and informal. Having the support of friends and loved ones can reduce the stresses associated with aging. Some studies even show that loneliness can lead to increased risk of stress, cardiovascular disease, and depression. The residents of Loma Linda, California find community through church, while Okinawans maintain lifelong bonds with groups called Maoi. 

    Maintain a healthy diet

    A diet rich in nutrients is key to fighting physical effects of stress on the body. Antioxidants, which can be found in food like sweet potatoes (a staple of the Okinawan diet), blueberries, and kale all defend your cells from the damage of oxidative stress. There’s no one best diet to follow, but if you look at the Blue Zones, you’ll find that across countries and cultures the diets of the oldest living people are mostly plant based, contain little sugar and dairy, and only moderate or no alcohol use. Both sugar and alcohol especially can cause an excess of free radicals in your body’s cells (a precursor to oxidative stress) so it’s no surprise that the world’s longest living people eat them sparingly. 

    Get moving

    Daily movement is a surefire way to reduce the effects of mental and physical stress. Exercise increases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in your brain, and actually helps your body fight stress by stimulating its effects and practicing a response. In Blue Zones, residents incorporate daily movement into their everyday life through activities like walking, hiking, swimming, and gardening. If you don’t know where to start, try replacing one car or subway ride a day with a brisk walk, even if it’s only 20 minutes.

    Stay mindful

    Finding time to relax and unwind is not unusual advice when it comes to stress management. But if you have a busy life, filled with work, kids, and social obligations, it can feel nearly impossible to have a mindful moment or truly relax without a to-do list running through your head. But mindfulness doesn’t have to look like an hour long meditation practice – in fact, it can just be a small reminder throughout your day of your gratitude and purpose. Buettner’s findings in the Blue Zones showed that nearly all Blue Zone residents lived life with a defined purpose, citing studies that show a sense of purpose can increase lifespan by 7 - 15 years.

    Manage stress with Modern Age

    Alongside healthy habits, treatments and supplements for stress reduction can help you reduce the everyday symptoms of chronic inflammation and lead a longer, healthier life. Modern Age’s IV Drip for Stress contains vitamin C and glutathione, a natural antioxidant that helps reduce stress and anxiety. Supplements like NAC by Thorne can also help. N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is an amino acid and a precursor to glutathione. When taken as a supplement, NAC helps replenish glutathione levels in your body, healing inflammation in the process. If you’re experiencing symptoms of stress and inflammation and want to uncover the root causes, take our Aging Wellness Assessment. Through comprehensive tests, including a blood panel of 55 key biomarkers, you’ll uncover the causes of inflammation and work with a licensed clinician on a customized plan to treat them.