What Long-Livers Eat and Drink Before Bed: Four Main Foods

Each region (of course) has its own special habits, cuisine, and culture. The largest number of long-livers live in the so-called “blue zones”.

This term refers to five regions of the world-Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California-where people not only regularly reach triple digits, but their minds and bodies still work well.

National Geographic journalist Dan Buettner has been writing about these regions for many years and has called them blue zones. Each region (of course) has its own special habits, cuisine, and culture, but all five places share a few values: keeping a firm sense of purpose, eating mostly plant-based foods, and moving daily are three such examples.

So how do they do it? Believe it or not, what they eat and drink before bed plays a big role. Here are five tips for long life from blue zone residents on food for better rest and longevity.

What the world’s longest-living people eat, drink, and do before bed for a restful sleep

People in the blue zones usually avoid foods with added sugar before bed, and always

Saying sugar = is bad is too simplistic because there are many different types of sugar (17 to be exact). But the one that is problematic for your health is added sugars. The food that people eat in the blue zones usually does not contain added sugars, unless it is meant for celebrations. Most likely, eating sugar is not a habit in these regions, and people living in them tend to consciously consume it.

When it comes to sleep, studies have shown that consuming added sugar before bedtime contributes to more restless, disturbed sleep and also primarily increases the time it takes to fall asleep. This is largely due to the sharp spike and drop in blood sugar levels that usually occur after consuming added sugar.

In blue zones, they drink green tea (lots and lots)

Tea is one of the few drinks that people in the blue zones drink (the others are water, coffee, and red wine). “Okinawans eat green tea throughout the day, and green tea has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers,” the Blue Zones website says. One of the many benefits of green tea is that it doesn’t cause a jittery feeling like coffee, but it’s also full of antioxidants.

If you are sensitive to even small amounts of caffeine, don’t drink it. Instead, drink herbal tea, such as chamomile or peppermint, before bed (or later in the day).

Drink red wine after 17:00 and in moderation

You may be surprised to find a wine on the list. And Buettner readily admits that there is disagreement about whether alcohol is good for health – let alone sleep – anyway. “I’m well aware of the recent studies on alcohol that show it increases the likelihood of breast cancer in women or that it can cause falls, car accidents, and other fatalities,” he says.

“But I can tell you that in all five blue zones, they drink a little bit every day, and it increases their quality of life,” he says. “If you drink a little red wine with a plant-based meal, it will about quadruple your absorption of flavonoids or antioxidants and lower your cortisol levels at the end of the day,” he also previously said.

Neuroscientist Kristen Villumier, Ph.D., said that “alcohol initially has a sedative effect, [but] once it is metabolized, it can lead to disruption and poor sleep quality later in the night.”

People in blue zones do not often eat right before bed

In Okinawa, Japan, they try to leave enough time between the last meal of the day and when they go to bed for the night-most of them make dinner the smallest meal of the day, and eat it in the early evening.

“Food causes our body to produce insulin, which works in opposition to the sleep hormone, melatonin. Eating too much or eating close to bedtime can reduce melatonin production in the body and make it harder to fall asleep,” Whitney English Tabai previously reported.

They eat whole-grain bread

Bleached white flour has no place on the menu in the blue zones, but that doesn’t mean that any bread is off-limits. People in these regions often eat whole grain bread such as rye and barley, which contain nutrients and minerals such as tryptophan and magnesium.

The former helps to increase serotonin levels, which is a precursor to melatonin production, and the latter helps to relax and get a good night’s sleep.

Avatar photo

Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Why Milk Spoils and How to Extend Its Shelf Life: Tips

Cardiologist Tells Why Freshly Squeezed Juices are Harmful to the Body