One of most significant revelations someone can experience is that their body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. (1) In fact, the Bible says that our bodies are not our own. They have been “bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body!” (2)
If our bodies truly belong to God, then we have a moral responsibility to take care of them, right? What better excuse to throw away the “I have to exercise or eat right because I don’t want to get sick or die early” mentality than to be eternally obligated to honor our Creator by taking care of our health? No wonder most diets and exercise regimens fail us.
By having a purpose and vision that only satisfies ourselves, they are destined to fall short as we lose focus and motivation to continue. However, like most commandments in the Bible, the obligation to eat right and stay fit to honor God supersedes our “me-centered” focus. It gives us eternal significance and even benefits those who practice healthy behaviors in practical, tangible ways.
Learning from the “Blue Zones”
During his TED talk, “How to live to be 100+,” National Geographic reporter Dan Buettner shared some key insights in what make the world’s “Blue Zones” uniquely distinct from average communities. Blue Zones are regions of the world whose elders live with vim and vigor to record-setting age and include the following areas: the highlands of Sardinia; the northern part Okinawa; and the Seventh-Day Adventist community in Lomo Linda, California. (3)
Blue Zone commonalities to emulate
- Live a life of motion: None of these communities exercise. They live a life of movement and they tend to walk a lot, the only proven way to prevent cognitive decline. They also tend to garden. In addition, Blue Zoners deliberately lack the many conveniences that we take for granted and do things “by hand;” forcing them to stay active.
- Keep the right outlook: Blue Zoners downshift regularly which helps them see purpose in their lives. Most Blue Zone communities actually have distinct words to express a sense of purpose and destiny for their lives. Not surprisingly, prayer and slowing down one’s lifestyle pace has been shown to reverse the inflammatory responses that are responsible for most chronic diseases.
- Eat Wisely: Every Blue Zone eats a predominantly plant-based diet and a few eat just moderate amounts of meat. Most importantly, they don’t overeat and have strategies to stave off gluttony. The Okinawans, for example, have a 3,000 year old adage credited to Confucius that they say before their meal to remind them to stop eating when their stomach is 80% full.
- Esteem Elders: In Sardinia, honoring the aged – instead of seeing them as burdens – has proven to not only increase life expectancy, but also has benefited their youth as well. In what has become known as the “Grandmother Effect,” it has been suggested by researchers that evolutionary selection favors survival to increasing age because older members of a social group can increase the survival chances of their grandchildren. (4)
- Never retire: In Okinawa, there is no word for “retirement.” They work till they die in whatever capacity they are able to and this gives them purpose to their lives and a keen sense of accomplishment.
- Worship: Every Blue Zone is directly connected to a divine purpose in their lives. The Seventh-Day Adventists take this reality very seriously They have a sense of belonging to a faith-based community, which has been proven to be worth 4 – 14 extra years of life expectancy.
- Build lifelong relationships: We know that isolation kills. Blue Zoners value life long relationships. In his TED talk, Buettner reported on a group of five Okinawan women who have known each other for 97 years with their average age being 102! Like most Blue Zoners, Adventists spend time with like-minded people so they remain encouraged to keep the principles that have worked so well over the years.
- I Corinthians 6:19
- I Corinthians 6:20
Health coach, life coach, author and speaker, Eric L. Zielinski is a Chiropractor who continues to seek out ways to influence the world toward achieving the Abundant Life. Eric’s work can be seen in a wide variety of venues including Christian, health/wellness, and academic peer-reviewed literature. Eric lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife Sabrina and three children.