Wellness Culture, Wise Gurus

Wellness & Longevity Takes Work in a Sick Culture…

At World Wise Beauty we wellness passioneers take a holistic lens to everything when we consider our personal health and well-being. We connect the dots by reviewing the research, we synthesize the best health practices for our bio-individuality, and we employ the timeless wisdom of lifestyle as medicine. No, we aren’t perfect people living in wellness utopia! We work hard at staying well and we could probably share a few scary stories about our health trials, mishaps, and tribulations. We live, we learn, and we course correct. We keep on learning because the culture around us demands we be self-advocates for our own individual health. We also have learned to love ourselves holistically and respect all the parts of our bio-individuality that make us uniquely who we are.

Just as a refresh, if you are new to this term that I use quite a bit, here is the definition of bio-individuality…

Bio individuality is defined as the understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all diet we can default to because every person is a unique organism with unique nutritional needs. When we look at holistic wellness this term really applies to our own unique nature too (mind, body and spirit).

So why did I use the word ‘sick culture’ in the headline of this post? For starters it’s because nearly 40% of American adults aged 20 and over are obese. 71.6% of adults aged 20 and over are overweight, including obesity. According to the CDC six in ten Americans live with at least one chronic disease, like heart disease and stroke , cancer, or diabetes. These and other chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in America, and they are also a leading driver of healthcare costs. What could be the main factor for these statistics? It can only be one thing…

“It’s The Culture Stupid”

I played with a famous quote from a former president who said “It’s the economy stupid”. The fact is living in modern culture today ( the last 50 years to be specific) it is no easy task to stay healthy and avoid illness and disease. Everything around us is essentially not good for us! So for the wellness superiors who judge people who are unhealthy and eat poorly, it’s time to get off your high horse and take a long hard look at the culture that all of us are steeped in, albeit to varying degrees. The truth is our health and wellness is really about the luck of the draw. Things like socio-economics, education, culture, and public policy all come into play. This is why Public Health matters to every culture. We certainly connected those dots when the Covid Pandemic hit the world. Why did some countries and communities do better than others? Culture and public health policy is what it really came down to.

Longevity Takes Work & Support

Wellness shouldn’t be a luxury or a privilege, but like everything else in our society today, it is. The biggest disadvantage is not having access to data/information and a support system around you.  As a certified integrative health coach, I have a health history form I give to my clients to complete, and one of the questions I ask is, “will your family and friends be supportive of your desire to make food and/or lifestyle changes?” This is an important question because as social creatures we are influenced and affected by everyone around us. Our well-being depends on our family, our friends, our community, and the surrounding culture we are apart of.  Our healthcare system is also part of our culture. Who you are with, where you live, and what healthcare you have access to, really does matter to your health and longevity.

In 2004, Dan Buettner, of Blue Zones LLC, set out to uncover the specific aspects of lifestyle and environment that led to longevity. Blue Zones uncovered 9 evidence-based common denominators among the world’s centenarians that are believed to slow the aging process. I add a Health Coach Tip to each of them for a flexible and integrative perspective. My new coaching practice is focused on ‘nurturing our nature’ for longevity and vitality. I am pretty passionate about what it takes, and I am on the wellness journey with you.

1. Move naturally. The world’s longest-lived people do not pump iron, run marathons, or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it.

LCHC TIP: Move wherever and however you can. Your current health status and lifestyle TODAY is what matters, and where you should begin.  If you can get to a gym–go! If you can’t get to a gym, then garden, walk, or hike in local parks. It all counts! In reality and with medical science, we now know that depending on our condition, we may need specific focused exercise to address our vulnerabilities as we age. We all have choices and options. The important wisdom gleaned from Blue Zones is to move. Our bodies are designed to move! When we don’t move it slows down, breaks down, and malfunctions.

2. Downshift. Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. What the world’s longest-lived people have that others do not are routines to shed that stress.

LCHC TIP: The Blue Zones have a ready made culture with established rituals (routines) built into their culture. In many modern cultures we have to make time and create rituals in the middle of our busy lifestyle. This means we have to cultivate new habits to help manage our stress. Health coaches can help you with this. You need support because new habits are hard to cultivate especially when we are older!

3. 80% Rule. Hara hachi bu—the Okinawan 2500-year old Confucian mantra said before meals reminds them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it.

LCHC TIP: This is a common sense approach to eating, but keep in mind that unhealthy diets and habits are developed because of multiple factors that should be considered and explored with ideally your doctor, nutritionist, and health coach.

4. Plant slant. Beans, including fava, black, soy, and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only 5 times per month. Serving sizes are 3 to 4 oz, about the size of a deck of cards.

LCHC TIP: There must be something to the Blue Zones diet as their people are centenarians. But diet alone does not promise a long life. A good diet for your unique bio-individuality will certainly keep chronic illness at bay, but more than likely it is a combination of several lifestyle factors as the Blue Zones research ultimately flushes out. Lifestyle as medicine is the foundational philosophy for longevity!

5. Wine People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Moderate drinkers outlive nondrinkers. The trick is to drink 1 to 2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food. And no, you cannot save up all week and have 14 drinks on Saturday.

LCHC TIP: This is a wonderful moderate approach to drinking, but unfortunately for some people one drink ‘taste like more’! What you really need to look at is how alcohol affects your unique bio-individuality. Women need to keep in mind that our bodies are changing during peri-menopause and through menopause. Alcohol interacts with hormones. Your chemistry is unique and you should decide what amount works best for you. Less could be more. And abstaining could be protective of genetic vulnerabilities you may have. Always look at your own epigenetic profile holistically.

6. Belong. All but 5 of the 263 centenarians interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Denomination does not seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services 4 times per month will add 4 to 14 years of life expectancy.

LCHC TIP: The takeaway here is to belong.  Sure, faith based institutions do a good job of creating community. But in today’s modern culture we can gather and connect through hobbies and causes too. There are always opportunities to belong.

7. Purpose. Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to 7 years of extra life expectancy.

LCHC TIP: Your purpose can be your family, work. or passion. It’s yours to nurture and keeps you going!

8. Loved ones first. Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (it lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home too.). They commit to a life partner (which can add up to 3 years of life expectancy) and invest in their children with time and love. (They’ll be more likely to care for aging parents when the time comes.)

LCHC TIP: This is a big one! Love and family is important to all humans. Unfortunately, our modern society holds many who come from broken homes, or are estranged from their family. What is key for humans is finding relationships and community we can feel loved and supported by. It takes a village is a healthy approach and mindset when you have divorce rates at 44% in our country.

9. Right tribe. The world’s longest lived people chose—or were born into—social circles that supported healthy behaviors, Okinawans created moais—groups of 5 friends that committed to each other for life. Research from the Framingham Studies2 shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. So the social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.

LCHC TIP: Find your tribe. This is the secret sauce! Read on…

The Right Tribe

Number 9 is the ‘right tribe”, and it happens to be the most challenging aspect of getting healthy and staying healthy long into your golden years. This is why health coaches like myself will ask about your support system. It’s also why many traditional doctors would rather give you a medication than get involved with your nutritional habits and lifestyle. I am not prescribing the Blue Zones diet over another, although it is a very healthy one for longevity. The reason I shared the Blue Zones power nine,  is I believe the most important insight from the study is found in number nine. It is last on the list but I believe it is the secret sauce of longevity. Our habits, rituals, or lack thereof, starts first with our family unit and then branches out to our tribe around us. Sometimes we have to find our tribe.

It can be hard work to change and improve our health when we are not supported or have to go it alone. It can take courage and independence to do what’s right for our own health. It also takes a supportive tribe to help nurture our progress. Last but not least, it takes self-love to nurture your own nature. We are all unique and have different health requirements, but the healthier the tribal values, the healthier the individual and culture. This is the best motivation for investing in wellness culture and values.

May you live holistically well, not just long.


Laura Connolly, Founder of World Wise Beauty, CHC