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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Finding Your “Blue Zone” for Health, Healing and Happiness

Dr. Cecelia Hill, DOM, AP, CCT


Did you know that researchers have been looking for the healthiest places in the world to live? These locations have been labeled “Blue Zones,” and they where people achieve measurably longer lives. Two noteworthy books of interest have been written on the subject, titled The Blue Zones: 9 lessons for Living Longer by Dan Buettner and Healthy at 100 by John Robbins.

So where are some of these well-documented sites, and what does it mean to be well-documented? This refers to proving a person’s identity and verifying their date of birth with local records, so it is absolutely certain the centenarian who lives there is, in fact, a centenarian. Some of the most notable sites where these people live are the Hunza Valley, Pakistan; Vilcabama, Ecuador, and Okinawa, Japan.   

How can you create your own personal “Blue Zone” right here in Southwest Florida? It is not left to physicians or scientists to halt or reverse the aging process. This is in your hands, and you can create your own Shangri La by applying what has been studied about these “Blue Zones” and start implementing healthy changes now.

The main difference between a Blue Zone diet and a Standard American Diet (SAD) is the Blue Zone cultures eat no refined sugar or carbohydrates. Instead, they consume locally grown vegetables in season, and incorporate healing foods like turmeric, ginger or oregano, and superfoods like acai or maca into their diets naturally.  

Vegetables have a prominent role in the Hunza diet, for instance—particularly mustard greens, spinach or lettuce, root vegetables like carrots, turnips, potatoes or radishes, and beans, chickpeas, lentils or sprouted legumes. In addition, they use herbs for both culinary and medicinal purposes such as mint and thyme.

A large part of their diet is also eaten uncooked. Vegetables in season are picked just prior to consumption, and are almost always raw. Fresh corn on the cob is never cooked. It is a rare meal that does not contain flaxseed freshly ground and eaten uncooked.

No single food item creates disease and no single food cures it either. Start looking at your diet and lifestyle as a whole to assess the results you want to achieve. If you have IBS or digestive issues you could use a VitaMIx or blender to make this more workable. Here are the top five secrets for longevity and anti-aging from Healthy at 100:


  1. Eat many colors. Foods’ natural colors are not just treats for the eye but also signs of important nutrients such antioxidants.
  2. Eat raw vegetables and nuts instead of salty chips.
  3. For the fat in your diet, eat walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, avocados, and other nuts or seeds.
  4. Avoid from trans fatty acids, margarine, vegetable shortening, commercial pastries, deep-fried foods, and prepared snacks or convenience items.
  5. Don’t pollute your body. Evaluate your kitchen cupboard and eliminate any food products that no long serve your potential to be radiantly fit and healthy. Don’t overeat either.


In addition, daily exercise is an integral part of life and has a major role in the anti-aging process. There is an expression in Vilcabamba that each of us has two “doctors,” the left leg and the right leg. The Blue Zone cultures have traditional exercise that involves movement and mediation. This addresses the mind-body connection which is essential to wellness. So here are six more pointers to create a personal Blue Zone for yourself in Southwest Florida:


  1. Eat an organic and nutrient-dense diet, comprised of mostly raw foods.
  2. Minimize stress with yoga and meditation, or simply turn off the news.
  3. Exercise daily and remain active. Daily walks appear to reduce your risk of heart disease and certain forms of cancer.
  4. Cultivate friendships and meaningful relationships. 
  5. Find a sense of purpose in your life. Successful centenarians feel needed and want to contribute toward the greater good.
  6. Take time to rest and fast occasionally.
  7. Drink fresh herbal teas made from peppermint, oregano, rosemary, chamomile or sage, and consume healing foods like fresh turmeric, ginger and garlic. This helps the body to detoxify on a regular basis.


This coming year, be proactive in caring for your own health. And with that goal in mind, at Sandhill Healing Center, we look forward to helping you maximize wellness through acupuncture, Chinese herbals, thermography, nutrition and massage. 


Dr. Cecelia “Cheech” Hill is the owner of Sandhill Healing Center. Her practice is located at 24901 Sandhill Blvd Suite 8, Port Charlotte.  For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 941-235-8929 or visit our


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