Kimberly Garrison: Get in the 'Blue Zone'

Posted: January 10, 2013

HEY, "FAMILY GUY" Peter Griffin: Ditch those weight-loss resolutions - being a Fatty Fat Fatty may not be so bad after all.

According to a study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who were overweight, defined as a body mass index of 25 to 29.9, were less likely to die prematurely than people of normal weight (a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9).

I scratched my head and laughed when I read this one.

Here's the thing, folks: This report was about death rates, which aren't the same as life expectancy or longevity. Also, BMI is not the best measure of health. The researchers were not sure why overweight people with heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes and high blood pressure lived slightly longer than the normal-weight participants with same conditions. This "obesity paradox" has come up in other studies, but its cause isn't yet clear.

The study's conclusions are not a green light to start expanding your waistline, elevating your blood glucose, increasing your blood pressure and cholesterol. Don't get confused about the real health risks that excess pounds create.

I prefer the health advice offered in best-selling author Daniel Butner's book The Blue Zones, about the healthiest, longest-living people around the world. I am especially fascinated by the power and simplicity of the nine traits these people share, according to Butner.

Here's an abridged version of the nine traits - being overweight is not one of them!

1. Move naturally: The world's healthiest and longest-living people don't run marathons, nor do they go to the gym. Their body is the gym, and life is a workout.

2. Purpose: Know and live your life with purpose.

3. Downshift: Stress leads to chronic inflammation, which is associated with every major disease. Cultivate daily rituals and strategies for managing stress. Prayer, mediation and naps are among "Blue Zone" techniques.

4. The 80 Percent Rule: Stop eating when you're 80 percent full. Don't snack all day. Eat your smallest meal in the evening.

5. Plant slant: Eat a more plant-based diet with lots of beans. Have just 3 ounces of meat about five times a month.

6. Drink a little vino: That's one to two glasses - 3-ounce glasses, that is!

7. Belong: Faith-based communities play a big part of Blue Zone lifestyles. According to the research, participating in a faith-based community four times a month adds 4 to 14 years to your life.

8. Loved ones first: Put family first. Blue Zoners have committed relationships, investing time and love with their children and their aging parents. Sorry, no nannies and no nursing homes.

9. It takes a tribe: Blue Zone communities share and support healthy lifestyle behaviors, and these values are passed on to subsequent generations.

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