Learn about Blue Zones and what they can teach you about your life
The myth surrounding the Fountain of Youth, a spring that would give eternal life, has persisted through time. While we know that water can’t turn back time, Tony Buettner was interested in answering the question: What can we learn from the people who have lived the longest?
Working with his brother, Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest,” Tony and a crew of longevity experts, including anthropologists, demographers, epidemiologists and researchers traveled around the world to study communities with a high number of centenarians — people who are at least 100 years old.
He and the scientists interviewed hundreds of people about how they lived. They then completed analyses to find out what these communities have in common.
The team found five places that met all their criteria and dubbed them “Blue Zones”: Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Ogliastra Region, Sardinia; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.
What do Blue Zone communities have in common?
- They move naturally. People in Blue Zones aren’t avid runners or gym rats; they simply move naturally by walking or constantly being in motion. They garden and may do more manual work without the conveniences many use in their yard or homes.
- They know their purpose. Knowing “why you wake up in the morning,” or more simply, having a purpose can add seven years to your life expectancy.
- They make time to eliminate stress. Whether it’s taking time to remember loved ones, praying, enjoying a nap or happy hour, people in Blue Zones make time every day to destress.
- They follow the 80 percent rule. Eat until you’re 80 percent full.People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening, and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day.
- They eat more plants. Blue Zone communities eat more beans such as soy, fava and black, as well as lentils. They limit meat to about five times per month.
- They drink in moderation. People inBlue Zones drink alcohol moderately and regularly, around one to two glasses per day.
- They have faith. All but five of the centenarians interviewed belonged to a faith-based group; denomination was not a factor.
- Friends and family come first. Blue Zone communities put families first and keep grandparents and parents close. They commit to life partners and invest in their children.
- They have a healthy social circle. Studies show smoking, obesity, happiness and loneliness are contagious. Blue Zone people keep social circles that reinforce healthy behaviors.