Do you know who are your friends? I’m not talking about social media “friends” you barely know, but real friends who know and care for you. Friends who are willing to listen, stand by you, and offer support when you need it most.
Today we revisit the last of the lessons from the Blue Zones. We’ve been reviewing them in preparation for our upcoming Healthy Lifestyle Challenge.The lessons are simple, yet powerful, and can help put anyone on the path to a healthier and happier life.
Lesson Nine: Right Tribe
One of the most powerful things you can do to change your lifestyle for the better is to surround yourself with a strong social network—an inner circle of friends—that share similar values. Social connectedness is an integral part of life in each of the five Blue Zones. For example, Okinawans have moais—which roughly are social support groups. Originally created out of financial necessity, moais today are more of a vehicle for companionship. In communities where moais exist, young Okinawan children are put into small groups with other children with whom they share common interests or circumstances. The moai stays together throughout its members’ lives. They walk together, talk together, garden together, eat together, and share life’s joys and difficult experiences together. These moai communities are not made up of folks you call on just when something goes wrong. As their relationships have been in place for decades, moai members provide each other with lifelong support. Amazing.
Research supports the health benefits of surrounding yourself with the right tribe. Strong ties with friends, relatives, a spouse, club membership, and volunteerism all have an impact on how well people age. Members of longevity cultures often work and socialize with each other as this reinforces cultural behaviors. It’s much easier to adopt good habits when those around you are already practicing them.
Some speculate that a superior social network is one of the reasons why women live longer than men. Women tend to have stronger and better systems of support. They’re much more engaged with and helpful to each other and more willing to express their feelings.
Interestingly, Japanese women tend to live 8 percent longer than American women and their moai may very well be one of the reasons why. Chronic stress takes its toll on overall health and those who have an ingrained mechanism to shed stress daily, with friends and family, seem to fare better and longer.
Think about your friends and family. Reflect on the true meaning of friendship and identify your inner circle. Create your moai and reap the benefits of having a social network you can count on and who can also count on you. It’s much easier to go through life knowing there is a safety net of friends and family you love and who love you.
Tips and strategies to build your inner circle of your personal Blue Zone
Identify your inner circle
Know the people who reinforce the right habits, people who understand or live by Blue Zone secrets.
This may seem like common sense, but to many it is not. Of the centenarians interviewed, none were grumpy. Elderly who are likable are more likely to have a social network, frequent visitors, and de facto caregivers. They seem to experience less stress and live purposeful lives.
Create time together
Spend at least 30 minutes a day with members of your inner circle. Establish a regular time to meet or share a meal together. Building a strong friendship takes time and effort, but it is an investment that can lead to not only added years, but also happier, more fulfilled years of life.
One to nine, our journey through lessons from the Blue Zones is finished. However, your quest to discover the secrets to longevity need not end here. Although a true fountain of youth does not spring from the ground, it has come to us through centuries of trial and error. How we use the wisdom and information from healthy and happy centenarians living in Blue Zones is up us, the choice is ours.
I’m happy our Moai for the upcoming Healthy Lifestyle Challenge is growing! We’ll be supporting each other to start and reinforce healthy lifestyle behaviors. It’s much easier to adopt good habits when you have a “moai” to encourage you! Won’t you join us?
I hesitated to share this recipe with you today because it’s only been a few weeks since I shared recipes for my Hazelnut Buckwheat and Superfood Green-ola granola bars. Quite a bit of granola happening in my kitchen. I’ve been in love with granola lately. I’ve been eating the stuff for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner!!! Yes, I know, it sounds crazy. I wasn’t planning on sharing that bit of my craziness, but then I read, I know a Mama Who, a recent post from the blog Dash and Della. The post has been circulating on Facebook the past few days and found it’s way to me yesterday evening, just before I was about to eat another bowl of granola for dinner! As soon as I read it I knew I’d share this granola recipe with you, just after I ate another bowl of it for breakfast this morning!
Feel free to alter this recipe as you wish. Each time I’ve made it I’ve added more or less oats, buckwheat, ginger, hemp seeds, sweeteners, coconut oil, etc. This batch does not make a huge portion. Try it out, if you like it, you can always double the recipe and save the rest in an airtight container.
Ginger Almond Hemp Granola
Makes about 5 cups
1 cup/100 grams rolled oats (use gluten free, if preferred)
1/2 cup/100 grams buckwheat groats
1/2 cup/ 60 grams sliced almonds
1/2 cup/70 grams hemp seeds
1/2 cup/30 grams coconut flakes
1/4 cup/35 grams sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons/25 grams pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon/10 grams flax seeds (I used golden and brown)
1 tablespoon/10 grams sesame seeds
1/4 cup/40 grams coconut sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat oven to 325F.
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
In a small saucepan, gently heat the coconut oil and maple syrup. Pour into the dry ingredients. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, toss until well incorporated.
Spread to a 1/2-inch thickness onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Halfway through, toss the granola in order for it to bake evenly. Remove from oven and allow to cool on pan.