Blue Zones and the Elixir of Youth
Updated: Sep 1
Lessons from Blue Zones: Minerals in hard water are key to living a long healthy life.
Why Are Blue Zones Special?(1,2)
There are five Blue Zones scattered across the globe, which are home to the highest concentration of centenarians in the world1. Not only do they live long, but Blue Zone inhabitants are also remarkably healthy, both physically and mentally, and are active members of their communities.
The first Blue Zone community was identified in March 2000 in Sardinia, Italy by Michael Poulain, PhD, a demographer who specializes in longevity studies and Gianni Pes, MD, PhD, a medical statistician.
The word “Blue” in “Blue Zones” comes from the blue pen they happened to use to draw concentric circles on a map identifying the cluster of villages with the highest longevity. “Blue Zone” was coined to refer to the areas within that circle.
The Secret is in the Water
Nicoya, Costa Rica, is one of the Blue Zones identified by Poulain and Pes along with the National Geographic Fellow and Explorer, Dan Buettner, BA.(3)
While they discovered nine lifestyle factors common to all of the five communities, unique to Nicoyan’s longevity is their water, or rather, what is in their water. Water in Nicoya is exceptionally hard and is full of essential nutrients, especially calcium and magnesium.(4)
Denizens of Nicoya use this hard water for both drinking and cooking - enough to supply their daily calcium and magnesium needs. It is these two essential nutrients in hard water that are said to be keys to the Nicoyan’s longevity by improving the health and strength of their hearts and bones.
A public health data analysis study, spanning almost two decades (1999 - 2018), by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists diseases of heart (their words) as the number one cause of death among the elderly, unintentional injuries or accidents associated with bone loss as number seven.(5)
Calcium and Magnesium, the Elixir of Youth? 6,7,8
Both calcium and magnesium are essential nutrients. Inadequate intake of either results in adverse health effects.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body and is primarily used to build and strengthen bones and teeth. In fact, 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in bones and teeth while the remaining 1% is found in blood and soft tissues. Even though it may seem insignificant, this 1% is critical for our survival. Maintaining calcium levels in blood and soft tissues is so important that our bodies will compensate for even minor calcium decreases by extracting calcium from our bones to deposit in our blood.
Importance of the 1 %
Calcium found in soft tissue is essential for the following:
· It is critical for the function of neurons and allows the brain to communicate with all other parts of the body.
· The contraction and use of muscles (remember our heart is one of the most important muscles).
· To activate coagulation and repair damaged tissues.
· Regulates many hormones (such as insulin, which decreases blood glucose) and enzymes (such as glycogen phosphorylase which increases blood glucose).
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and is a cofactor for at least 350 enzymes that regulate diverse reactions in our bodies from protein, RNA and DNA synthesis to energy production and transporting calcium and potassium ions across membranes. Without magnesium, all processes that need calcium-neuro transmission such as muscle contraction and a normal heart rhythm will stop.
What Type of Calcium/Magnesium is Better? Dietary vs Supplements
For both calcium and magnesium, dietary sources are better than store- bought supplements, with none of the potential side effects associated with supplements.
Your Home Can Be a Blue Zone
We at NuvoH2O think it is immensely helpful to our health to keep the good nutrients in our drinking and cooking water (Hard Water). It is not only us (and the Nicoyans), the World Health Organization (WHO) in their 2010 Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, cites several studies that find hard water to be beneficial to human health with no adverse health effects associated with the consumption of hard water.(9)
In the same report the World Health Organization also encourages those who sell or install water softening devices to make the users aware of the possibility of a reduced intake of essential minerals.(9)
We know that hard water can be damaging for a house and leave hard water deposits if left untreated. NuvoH2O products are designed to stop the damage caused by hard water, such as scale buildup, without removing beneficial minerals from your water. You can create your own Blue Zone and keep drinking healthy hard water, while helping our blue planet stay green.
About the Author
Dr. Mahika Weerasekare is a synthetic organic, and analytical chemist with over 20 years of work in research and development. Her experience ranges from small molecular drug develop
ment to biomaterial synthesis. Dr. Weerasekare became interested in water chemistry while developing synthetic biopolymers that mimic natural underwater glues for use as water-borne surgical adhesives.
References / Links
2. Michel Poulain, Giovanni Pes, Claude Grasland, Ciriaco Carru, Luigi Ferrucci, et al. Identification of a geographic area characterized by extreme longevity in the Sardinia Island: the AKEA study. Experimental Gerontology, Elsevier, 2004, 39 (9), 1423-1429.
3. Dan Buettner, BA, and Sam Skemp, BA. Blue Zones: Lessons from the World’s Longest Lived, American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 2016., 318-321
4. Mora-Alvarado, Darner A.; Portugez-Barquero, Carlos F.; Alfaro-Herrera, Nuria and Hernandez-Miraluth, Michael. Differences water hardness and longevity rates in the Peninsula of Nicoya of Guanacaste and the other districts. Tecnología en Marcha 2015, vol.28, n.3, pp.3-14. ISSN 0379-3982