March 4, 2022

Costa Rica’s Longevity Secrets

This Central American nation isn’t that far from the U.S. geographically, but it is way ahead of us in longevity. The Caribbean nation is economically secure and has excellent health care. But other factors are at play, especially in Nicoya, an 80-mile peninsula just south of the Nicaraguan border.

Have a plan de vida.

Successful centenarians have a strong sense of purpose. They feel needed and want to contribute to a greater good.

Drink hard water.

Nicoyan water has the country’s highest calcium content, perhaps explaining the lower rates of heart disease, as well as stronger bones and fewer hip fractures.

Keep a focus on family.

Nicoyan centenarians tend to live with their families, and children or grandchildren provide support and a sense of purpose and belonging.

Eat a light dinner.

Eating fewer calories appears to be one of the surest ways to add years to your life. Nicoyans eat a light dinner early in the evening.

Maintain social networks.

Nicoyan centenarians get frequent visits from neighbors. They know how to listen, laugh, and appreciate what they have.

Keep hard at work.

Centenarians seem to have enjoyed physical work of all their lives. They find joy in everyday physical chores.

Get some sensible sun.

Nicoyans regularly take in the sunshine, which helps their bodies produce vitamin D for strong bones and healthy body function. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a host of problems, such as osteoporosis and heart disease, but regular, “smart” sun exposure (about 15 minutes on the legs and arms) can help supplement your diet and make sure you’re getting enough of this vital nutrient.

Embrace a common history.

Modern Nicoyan’s roots to the indigenous Chorotega and their traditions have enabled them to remain relatively free of stress. Their traditional diet of fortified maize and beans may be the best nutritional combination for longevity the world has ever known.

This is an excerpt from Blue Zones: Lessons For Living Longer From The People Who’ve Lived The Longest by Dan Buettner, copyright 2008, all rights reserved.

100 Recipes to Live to 100 THE BLUE ZONES KITCHEN

The Blue Zones Kitchen fuses scientific reporting, National Geographic photography and 100 recipes that may help you live to 100. The Blue Zones’ food tradition is going the way of the dodo bird, thanks to the encroachment of the American Food Culture.

The Blue Zones Kitchen