The Nicoya Peninsula. It's a land formation on the west coast of Costa Rica, a small but diverse country in Central America. Costa Rica is a beautiful country where rain forests meet the sea. It's home to some of the world's most interesting and rare creatures, rich coffee plantations, and on the Nicoya Peninsula, some of the world's healthiest and longest living people.
A "plan de vida" (or reason to live) sees the elderly engaged and remaining active in society. It gives them a purpose, which is believed to be one of the reasons the Nicoya Peninsula is a Blue Zone. It's not uncommon for centenarians to be heavily involved with family and friends, helping raise the next generation. The elderly often live with their children or grandchildren, keeping a tight bond with family.
You often hear "there must be something in the water" when the topic of something out of the ordinary comes up. This is very much the case in Costa Rica. Ground water in much of the country has the world's highest concentration of mineral calcium. It's not fully understood or known if this is a contributing factor to the longevity of the locals, but it could be a contributing factor.
In the western world, our night time meal is usually the largest meal of the day. This is not the case in Costa Rica, where dinner is often the lightest meal of the day. The traditional diet of Costa Ricans is based heavily around fortified maize and beans. This is one of the most nutritionally dense diets around, and most likely a significant factor behind Costa Rica's Blue Zone status.
In general, the locals live a happy and stress free life. They don't even have a military! What we're seeing as we travel around looking at these Blue Zones is that there's a pattern forming. Strong community and familial ties, good diet, and low levels of stress. Sounds rather ideal doesn't it?
Next newsletter we're off to Okinawa in Japan to see what's going on over there.