Our Core retreat - Tierra Encantada

The Blue Zone of Nicoya, Costa Rica

Blue Zones® are located around the world and reportedly have amazing health benefits. There are five pockets around the world where the locals are living verifiably longer lives. Those zones include Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy and Nicoya, Costa Rica. 

Tierra Encantada is fortunate to be located in the Blue Zone of Nicoya, Costa Rica. Every day we wake to a beautiful, healing environment where we are able to live our optimal lives. 

What makes the blue zones special?

In each of these five places, the populations live longer lives than average. Some live to the age of 100 years or older. More importantly, these centenarians are living active lives; swimming, surfing, lifting weights, working, and volunteering in their community. They have balance in their day to day life. They eat well. They move daily. They live their days with purpose. They surround themselves with their loved ones. 

These people did not take up yoga later in life or adjust their supplement schedule. Instead, they lived long, active lives because they were in the right environment – an environment that fostered a lifestyle of health. Each of the five blue zones have the same nine lifestyle characteristics, which are known as the “Power 9®” principles. Activity, outlook, and diet are key factors, but the underlying foundation is how people in blue zones connect with others.

blue zone costa rica

The Blue Zone Diet – Now and Then

The traditional diet of those living in the Blue Zone of Nicoya, Costa Rica has evolved over the years. The ancestors of this particular blue zone ate a mostly plant based diet, with the foundation of that diet being the “three sisters” (more on that below). However, as with all things, those traditions have changed and are mostly lost to the new generations. 

Today, meat is a more prominent part of the diet. Grass fed beef and chicken are the primary sources of protein now. They pair perfectly with the “three sisters”, which are corn, beans and squash. These are typical Mesoamerican ingredients and find themselves as part of almost every meal. 

Corn tortillas are a key part of the diet and use a unique process called nixtamalization. Nixtamalization takes whole kernels of organic corn and cooks them in water with a small amount of crushed limestone. After cooking, the solution steeps and undergoes a chemical process, causing the corn to soften and absorb calcium and potassium (this is the key to absorb the nutrients). The kernels then get washed and all the other elements like the hulls, starch & other corn matter are removed. At this point, the nixtamal is formed and made into masa, which can then be made into delicious tortillas. 

The water that those corn kernels are cooked in also plays a role in the health of the residents of Nicoya. The water here is hard water, meaning that it is rich in minerals like calcium and minerals. Nicoyan water boasts the highest calcium content in all of Costa Rica, which may explain the region’s lower rates of heart disease, stronger bones, and fewer hip fractures.

For all these reasons, at Tierra Encantada, we strive to follow in the footsteps of our amazing ancestors by offering clean, organic food grown right here on our own land. We are one of the few wellness resorts in Costa Rica, if not the only one, that refuses to compromise on the food that we serve to our guests. We take the health of ourselves and everyone who visits seriously and insist on receiving the nutritional blessings that our environment provides.  

Natural Movement

In the Western world, many of us rely on smart watches to remind us to stand up as we spend most of our time sitting at desks, in cars, while eating and watching television. Countless studies have shown the negative effects of this much time in a seated position. The residents of the blue zone of Nicoya never heard these issues. Natural movement was part of every day life, from dusk to dawn. 

Agriculture was a foundational piece of daily life for many in the community. They worked very hard to grow their own food. Power tools and tractors were not a part of the traditional way of farming life. The old farmers used machetes, oxen and carts to work the land. They moved with their animals, they worked with their families and they cultivated the land with their own hands. 

The result is an older population that ages gracefully and with strength. Fewer hip fractures are reported in Nicoya, one of many factors leading to longer lifespans in this blue zone.

Connected to Community

There is a collective spirit in Nicoya where their robust social network reinforces with purpose and joy of live. Multi-generational households find centenarians sharing the same roof with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Neighbors collaborate on community projects, food is shared and their incredible natural surroundings are appreciated and enjoyed together. 

In all blue zones we find a deep respect for the community elders. Instead of being isolated in nursing homes or care centers, blue zone elders are kept ingrained in their families. They remain integral to the community which in turn gives them a sense or purpose that is often missing from the elderly’s lives. This ‘plan de vida’ creates a positive outlook and extends their healthy lifespans. 

How can you incorporate the Blue Zones of Costa Rica lifestyle into your life?

Obviously, not everyone can move into the Blue Zone of Costa Rica. So how can we change our lives for the better to emulate the environment of the blue zones while living our daily lives in our current location? 

Here are five ways to bring more “blue zone” into your daily life no matter where you live.

  1. Find purpose with a “plan de vida”-  What is your purpose in life? Not in the existential sense or “what is the meaning of life”, but rather what can you do to support your family and community. What daily actions will lead to a better life for those around you?
  2. Drink water that is rich in minerals – Nicoyan water has the country’s highest calcium content, which could explain the lower rates of heart disease, as well as stronger bones and fewer hip fractures among their elders. What ways can you incorporate a diet more rich in calcium and other healthy minerals?
  3. Keep a focus on family – Nicoyan tend to live with their extended families, with adults, children and grandchildren all under one roof. While this might be impractical in your life, how can you incorporate more family time into your regular schedule to help provide support and a sense of purpose and belonging.
  4. Eat for health – This is likely the easiest blue zone secret you can add to your daily life. Eat organic, whole foods. When possible, eat grass fed meats. Eat more vegetables. Avoid highly processed foods and keep your diet simple. Eat food to nourish your well being. And eliminate sugar in your diet as much as possible.
  5. Move – Find a way to incorporate movement throughout your day. Going to the gym is great but adding natural movement throughout your day has both physical and mental benefits. Try adding a walk outside first thing in the morning. Then a trip to the gym, pool or yoga studio as usual. Consider working in your garden in the evening or doing some manual chores around the house instead of watching TV. You’ll be surprised by how much more energy you will feel and how much better you will sleep.  

 Visit the Blue Zone of Nicoya

If you’re ready to go one step further then plan your visit to the blue zone of Nicoya, Costa Rica.. At Tierra Encantada experience the magic of this enchanting sanctuary and connect with Pacha Mama – the jungle, wildlife, ocean, mountains, and river. Here you’ll find a powerful energy vortex, where the forces of nature come together to rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit.

We are proud to incorporate the blue zone lifestyle into everything that we do. Organic ingredients grown on site make up the ingredients for our guests meals. Our resort was constructed with a focus on sustainability, using eco-friendly materials like HempCrete – a mixture of hemp, sugar cane, lime, and water – and reclaimed woods. Our commitment to sustainability is evident in our use of solar power, recycled water systems, and rainwater collected for our gardens. 

Join us in the Blue Zone of Nicoya, where every aspect reflects our dedication to harmonizing with the land.

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