At some point in our lives, we've probably all searched online for a variation of 'most nutritious diet plan', 'most nutritious meal', or 'how to get more nutrients'. It may have come after a particularly decadent evening of socialising, or we may have come to the realisation that our diets are missing some vital ingredients. Either way - if there's a recipe for success, we want to know about it.
We can look to the New Zealand Eating and Activity Guidelines for help with this. But we can also look to other countries. Data gathered from certain geographical locations across the globe shows us that there are health correlations between particular diets and good health. National Geographic has published a popular body of research looking at this relationship. The Blue Zones, which is now a popular series of books, investigates particular cultures and the ability of their cuisines to keep us healthier for longer. Researchers travelled to five different zones -Greece, California, Italy, Japan and Costa Rica - to uncover the secret to a long life. These 'secrets' are a combination of lifestyle and dietary habits.
One particular diet known universally for its healthy properties is the Mediterranean diet. With vast quantities of colourful fruit and veg and plenty of extra virgin olive oil, the Mediterranean diet has been known to improve heart health, and is also recommended as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. But what lessons can we take from the other diets and lifestyles studied in The Blue Zones? Some of these diets included goat milk, herbal tea, nuts, vegetarianism, strong red wine, soy and always, always plenty of water.
We've decided to take fundamental bits of information from each and draw parallels in order to work out what they have in common, and what simple learnings we can take from these healthy diets in order to improve our own.
Here are some simple suggestions to do 'more' and 'less' of when it comes to your consumption habits.