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Family is important
August 24, 2020

Family is important

Family is important is a central theme in all the Blue Zones of the world.

Greetings from Bernard Preston to this seventh email about how to create a Cyan Zone at your home; this week it is a blue issue.

If you have not watched the Ted Talk on YouTube about why Blue Zone folk are far more likely to reach healthy old age, make half an hour; it is inspiring.

There are only five of these zones in the world, each quite unique but having many things in common; strong family ties is one of them.

Blue zones Ted talks

Today we talk about family.

Folk in Blue Zones keep the senior generations in the family; or at least they live nearby. Old age homes are an anathema.

The benefits for all are so evident. The Little People gain much from interacting with their grandparents; and it releases Mom and Dad from many of the time constraints that plague those in the middle years.

The traditions of the family are handed down faithfully from one generation to the next.

Financially it makes sense too

Most of us can use an extra buck or three. There are various models for young and old to share a home; with either a separate cottage or a conversion of part of the original house.

They have one big financial factor in common; it costs a lot less to have three generations sharing a large property. There is one utility bill, a single set of municipal rates and the internet costs can be shared.

There will be none of the costs associated with old age homes; and the elderly may well keep working and contributing to the family purse.

Shared labour

Families living like this in community generally get to share the labour. Granny may cook several times a week, a son maintains the lawns and grandpa does the maintenance, for example.

Caring for the children after school is simplified; they can be kept safe and busy with either homework or helping their grandparents with some aspect of their shared communal life.

This reduces a lot of the stress for both families.

Granny loves being with the kids

There are few richer experiences in our dotage than having the grandchildren on our doorstep; and it's good for them too.

Grandparents have one big commodity that the Little People need that their parents often are short on; time, of course.

Granny can teach them to sew and knit and help with maths or computers; Bha has time to get them involved in painting, fixing things and playing chess. It is vastly enriching for both parties. It gives the elderly the Ikigai, as the people of Okinawa call it; a reason to wake up in the morning.


Interestingly, Blue Zone folk drink natural wines and beers daily, in moderation. There is plenty of research that provided your unpasteurised tipple is the serf, and not the master, it adds years to life.

However the Seventh Day Adventists in a Californian Blue Zone community don't drink at all; it is not essential to reaching sparkling old age. But it is also not a bad thing.

It is usually a couple glasses of wine, no more; but in our case we are into ciders, meads and perries that we brew ourselves. Some are very simple and inexpensive and ready to drink within a few days; others may take a year or more to mature.

Unlike commercial alcohol, natural wines, meads and ales act as probiotics. In moderation they are very healthy.

Merrylegs perry cider

"It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth, and that we have no way of knowing when it will be up, that we will begin to live each day to the fullest; as if it was the only one we had."

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross


Covid-19 is not wreaking havoc in the Blue Zones as it is in the rest of the world; there are infections but few are dying. Research at this stage is lacking about exactly why this is; there are almost certainly numerous factors.

1. Moderate daily exercise keeps the biggest threat, raised blood glucose, in check.

2. Seniors are not dumped in old age homes where the virus can spread like wildfire.

3. Blue Zone people spend a lot of time out of doors; they get plenty of vitamin D that is known to give protection against inflammation.

And many more; but there is no dread fear in the hearts of the elderly that they will die when they are eventually exposed to the bug, as we all surely will be.

Vitamin D Levels Appear to Play Role in COVID-19 Mortality Rates

The best source of vitamin D is sunshine; a daily 15 minute walk at lunchtime with a hat on is ideal.

"The happiness that is genuinely satisfying is accompanied by the fullest exercise of our faculties; and the complete realization of the world in which we live."


Keep granny and gramps busy, stimulated and fulfilled; then they are far less likely to lose their marbles and break your hearts.

And perhaps you'll just find that, in their golden years, they are the ones who keep you stimulated and more fulfilled; there are only winners in this scenario as those in Blue Zones know well.

Holding your tongue

It is essential on both sides that one learns to hold the tongue. The Little People are not granny and gramp's children but now and again they will feel very strongly about some issues; they will speak out but for the relationship to work, they must then be quiet.

Likewise, older folk do get cranky, have some old-fashioned and odd ideas and generally may be forgetful and irritate; say something once and then hold your tongue.

You too may one day, if you follow the dictums of Blue Zone living, be lucky enough to be old, cranky and have some odd opinions and ideas; and enjoy the support of your children.

Whole grains

There is a huge body of knowledge now confirming what we really do know deep down; refined carbs are positively dangerous. And whole grains promote well-being by protecting our eyesight from macular degeneration, our intestines from the ravages of constipation and from cardiovascular mishaps; the research is unequivocal.

Just look at someone who has had a stroke before dismissing the importance of whole grains; one in four adults.

More powerful still is to try every day to replace one refined carb with a whole grain. Take out a cookie and add in a helping of brown rice.

It takes only five minutes to mix the dough to make the finest tasting and nutritious bread in the world. I know; I do it every day.

Why is whole grain better?

What is artisan bread?

Next week

Next week features a Green Zone issue; something of importance for saving the planet.

Pass this newsletter on to friends and family; soon greenies are hoping that awareness of the way we are destroying the environment will reach a tipping point; the place where a substantial number of people all try to do some small things to reverse the destruction of the place where our grandchildren will have to live.

And start planning how you could accommodate granny and gramps in your home, separate and private; yet so they feel included.

Or perhaps it will be granny and gramps who make a place for one of their children and their family. Be flexible in your thinking.

Perhaps a cottage around the corner might suit your purposes better.

Whilst these emails are not long, you may not have time to read and watch right now; save them for later.

Take care of yourself; look after the planet. Plan to live to a strong and zestful ninety; and who knows perhaps even one hundred.

Till next week.


1. Bernard Preston Homepage.
2. Back Issues for Create a Cyan Zone at your home.

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