Lifestyle Works

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Health MagazineOctober 2006 was our first Issue of Healthbites with the quote of the month being “There is sickness everywhere, and most of it might be prevented by attention to the laws of health”. This quote is probably more relevant to 2023 than it was back in our first issue in 2006. When we understand the laws of health and what is best for our bodies, we can implement changes to our lifestyle and diet to sustain a healthy, longer and more enjoyable quality of life.
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Our purpose for Healthbites has been to give you information of various topics affecting our health. There is continual study in the area of health and nutrition and this paper has endeavoured to share enough information for you to be able to chew on! As you would know, many articles in Healthbites have been condensed from larger articles from renowned sources. Also included have been vegan recipes for you to enjoy and share.

Since the first Issue of Healthbites a few changes have taken place, including a different location for our shop and resource centre. Starting out in a rural location, we are now in the township of Rangiora, with a bigger retail space, with a larger range of products (as you would have seen in the advertising being sent out with Healthbites) including juices, grains, supplements and food products. Grain mills have also been in higher demand, so we have extended our range to cater for a wider variety of needs including a hand operated mill in cases where people live off gird or just want to be prepared if there is a power cut.

We have also continued to have a presence at the Christchurch A & P Show and completed a number of cooking classes over the years.

As you will know Autumn Leaves is a Christian charity, resource and service organisation with a big focus on health. We purpose to serve communities and reach out to individuals who are searching for solutions for the spiritual, physical and mental challenges that we face from day to day.

As Christians we feel the importance of keeping our bodies healthy and to abide by the 8 laws of health covered in the acronym NEW START. Nutrition - eating the right foods. Exercise - maintaining Amazing Health Facts Mag Internal.jpgphysical health. Water - getting enough. Sunshine - at least 20 mins a day is ideal. Temperance - a good balance in eating and drinking. Air - fresh is best. Rest - get enough and at the right time. Trust - reduces stress and worry. With the purpose to have a balanced healthy lifestyle, it was our desire to produce Healthbites to be able to pass on some information to others to understand, prevent and reverse lifestyle diseases.

To learn more about NEW START and receive your free copy of the magazine Click Here

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Since we are celebrating the 100th edition of Healthbites, we thought for our main article we would look at some lifestyles habits of some of the oldest communities on the planet - some living over 100 years of age.

“Blue Zone” is a term given to geographic regions that are home to some of the world's oldest people which have low rates of chronic disease and live longer than anywhere else. While genetics somewhat determine your life span and susceptibility to these diseases, your lifestyle, as we will see in these 5 blue zones, probably has a greater impact.

Icaria (Greece):
Icaria is an island in Greece which has some of the world’s lowest rates of middle-age mortality and dementia. Their Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil, homegrown vegetables and contains smaller amounts of dairy and meat.

Okinawa (Japan):
Okinawa is home to the world's oldest women. The diet in Okinawa consists of a lot of sweet potatoes, soy-based foods, magwort, turmeric, and goya (bitter melon)  and practice tai chi, a meditative form of exercise.

Ogliastra, Sardinia (Italy):
The mountainous highlands of this Italian island boast the world’s highest concentration of centenarian men. Actively working on farmland, and consuming a low-protein diet which in turn gives them lower rates of diabetes, cancer and death rate for people under 65 years of age.

The Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California (USA):
The Seventh-day Adventists are a very religious group of people who have a active faith and follow biblical principles and consume a diet which consists of grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Some residents live 10 more healthy years than the average American.
Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica):
The Nicoyan diet is based around beans and corn tortillas. The people of this area regularly perform physical jobs into old age. Residents have the world’s lowest rate of middle-age mortality. The secret lies partly in there strong faith communities and their sense of life purpose known as “plan de vida.”

A number of studies have found that these areas contain extremely high rates of nonagenarians and centenarians, which are people who live over 90 and 100, respectively.

One thing common to Blue Zones is that those who live there primarily eat a 95% plant-based diet which typically are rich in the following foods:

    Vegetables: They're a great source of fibre and many different vitamins and minerals. Eating more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and death.

    Legumes: Legumes include beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas, and they are all rich in fibre and protein. A number of studies have shown that eating legumes is associated with lower mortality.

    Whole grains: Whole grains are also rich in fibre. A high intake of whole grains can reduce blood pressure and is associated with reduced colorectal cancer and death from heart disease.

    Nuts: Nuts are great sources of fibre, protein and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Combined with a healthy diet, they're associated with reduced mortality and may even help reverse metabolic syndrome.

In addition to Eating Healthy, Okinawans tend to follow the 80% rule, which they call “hara hachi bu.” This means that they stop eating when they feel 80% full, rather than 100% full. This prevents them from eating too many calories, which can lead to weight gain and chronic disease. Studies have also shown that eating slowly can reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness.
Periodic fasting also appears to be beneficial for health, for example, Icarians are typically Greek Orthodox Christians, a religious group that has many periods of fasting for religious holidays throughout the year. Some of the Seventh-Day Adventist in Loma Linda only eat 2 meals a day having their biggest meal for breakfast and a lighter meal during the day, also cutting down calorie intake and less tax on the body.

Aside from diet, exercise is another extremely important factor in aging.
In the Blue Zones, people don't generally go to the gym for their daily exercise. Instead, it is built into their daily lifestyle habits through gardening, walking, cooking and other daily activities.
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A study of men in the Sardinian Zone found that their longer life was associated with raising farm animals, living on steeper slopes in the mountains and walking longer distances to work.

Other studies have shown the benefits of exercise in reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease and overall premature death.

Another critical habit of the Blue Zone populations is getting sufficient rest. A good night's sleep also seems to be key a for living a long and healthy life.

In Icaria and Sardinia, daytime napping is also common. A number of studies have shown that daytime naps (no longer then 30 minutes), known in many Mediterranean countries as “siestas,” have no negative effect on the risk of heart disease and premature death and may even reduce these risks.

Aside from diet, exercise and rest, a number of other social and lifestyle factors are common to the Blue Zones. These include:

Being religious or spiritual:
Blue Zones are typically religious communities. A number of studies have shown that having a faith is associated with a lower risk of premature death. This may be due to social support and reduced rates of depression.

Older and younger people living together:
In many Blue Zones, grandparents often live with their families. Studies have shown that grandparents who look after their grandchildren have a longer, happier life.

In Summary

Each Blue Zone differs a little in their lifestyles, but what they have in common seems to have been associated with longevity of life: Eating a plant-based diet, being active, getting enough sleep and having a good spiritual, social, and family network. It’s never to late! By implementing some of these lifestyle factors, it may be possible for you to add a few years to your life.