The keys to living a long and healthy life

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Baking and sharing bread are two of the keys to living a long and healthy life…

10 years ago, National Geographic magazine, Dan Buettner, and a group of demographers began a search for the keys to a long and healthy life.  They identified five “blue zones” – places in the world where people live to 100 years of age at a rate 10 times greater than in the United States.

Only 25% of the story of long life can be explained through genes.  To that end, the team looked to identify “evidence based common denominators” that explain why people in the blue zones live longer.  Three of the “Power 9” include moving naturally, having a purpose and belonging a to “tribe” (surrounding yourself with people who support healthy behaviours).

Enter bread….

I had the pleasure of listening to Dan Buettner speak the other day when he was delivering a lecture in Monterrey, Mexico.  On the topic of moving naturally he stressed that people who live in the blue zones do not go to the gym or do aerobics classes necessarily.  What they share is a high level of “natural movement”.  On  average, they sit still for only 20 minutes at a time (unless they are sleeping) and when they are up and doing, they are moving naturally:  walking to visit their friends or enjoy nature, swimming, cycling, gardening, cooking from scratch, kneading bread…..yes, he actually said, “kneading bread.”

Kneading bread
Kneading dough

So, if kneading bread is one of the things that, by dint of the natural movement involved, will help you live a long life (not to mention the benefits of eating real versus industrial bread) let’s all get kneading!

Another of the Power 9 is living with purpose, something that adds seven years of life expectancy.  The definition of living with purpose is broad.  To the Blue Zone team is translates to, “why I wake up in the morning”.  Whilst I agree with that, I also think it includes a large component of living for others – living beyond the self.  We all need to have a reason to get up (it adds seven years…) and we all need to live beyond the self to be happy.  We here at the global HQ of Virtuous Bread would say that, given we are all about forging and maintaining positive and progressive relationships and believe that happiness is the sum total of those relationships in our lives – and the thing is we genuinely believe it.  Our evidence based common denominator is what we see every day among the bread baking community – with which we are intimately familiar.  Baking and sharing read bread builds relationships and forges a sense of purpose.  Ask any of the micro bakers and they will tell you – it’s kind of like magic.

Lisa's purpose:  to educate, to lead, to develop young people
Micro Baker Lisa’s purpose: to educate, to lead, to develop young people through bread

The final of the Power 9 that is achievable through baking and sharing bread is belonging to a “tribe” of people who share healthy behaviours.  Healthy people, just like ill people or people with unhealthy habits (smokers, those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, obese people) tend to group together.  So if you are around people with healthy behaviours you will find it much easier to have healthy behaviours.  If you bake and share bread you meet people who are interested in good bread.  And if they are interested in good bread they are usually interested in good food.  They may be interested in regular exercise or growing a garden or pickling vegetables, sewing their own clothes or making jam.  It may sound crazy, but it’s true.  Certainly the people I know by dint of being a baker are very different from the people I knew when I was a banker.  I move in different circles now and, yes, they are healthier ones.

Surround yourself with happy healthy people!
Bake and share: surround yourself with happy healthy people!

All this to say that being a micro baker – baking and selling good bread locally – can probably increase your chances of living a long and healthy life.  And if you don’t want to be a micro baker but a SUPER micro baker – baking for you or your friends and family once a month – it can probably STILL increase your chances of having a long and healthy life.  Good food.  A reason to get up. Good company.  It’s all in the bread.

If you are interested in becoming a micro baker or just want to get kneading and bake good bread, click here.

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