Dan Buettner and the Blue Zone Research

Dan Buettner and his research team, working for National Geographic, set out to find the path to long life and health. They did this by studying “Blue Zones,” communities whose elders live with vim and vigor to record-setting age. He called them blue zones simply because of the color of ink used to circle the areas with highest life expectancies on a map of the world.
Buettner studied residents from the following four areas:
•Sardinia, Italy
•Okinawa, Japan
•Loma Linda, Ca., USA
•Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
What did the blue zone research show? It showed that all these different societies have 9 lifestyle common denominators.
How to live a long healthy life

Lessons from the blue zone research

1. Move naturally. Stay active. Exercise and Keep Your Body Moving naturally. These people didn’t go to the gym or exercise per se. They just lived a life that involved walking and doing things physically. If they needed to bake, they manually made the dough.

2. Have a Purpose in Life. Live for something bigger than yourself. These people all had something they were living for. In many of these cultures, there is no retirement. There is not even a word for it. People stay active their entire life and have a purpose that gets them up in the morning.
3. Take time off. Balance Work with Periods of Calm and Relaxation. The 7th Day Adventists keep the Sabbath. And the other groups have similar ways of getting rest and relaxation.

4. 80% Rule.
For the Okinawans, they had a saying that you eat till you are 80% full. They use smaller plates and keep food away from the table so that you have to get up and go get it. They set the environment up in a way that it is harder to overeat.
5.Eat vegetables. Eat more vegetables & plant based food, and less processed food. All these cultures did this. For example, the 7th Day Adventists followed a plant-based diet mandated in the Bible. These people ate some meat but only small quantities.
6. Drink red wine. These cultures drink red wine.

Stay Social and engaged with others. In addition to having strong family relationships, these people had social groups they spent time. For example, the people of Okinawa have half a dozen people with whom they travel through life and share fortunes as well as misfortunes.
7. Have faith: Participate in spiritual or religious life. They all tend to belong to a faith-based community, which Buettner’s research shows,  is worth between four and 14 extra years of life expectancy if you do it four times a month! If you’ve ever wanted to reason to go to church and join a small group and live life in community with others, there’s a motivation for you!
Stay connected to family. Put your family first. Honor family and the elderly in your family and community. Celebrate life.
9. Right tribe. Have you ever heard the saying, “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are?” Well, the people you hang out with matter. From the Framingham studies, we know that if your three best friends are obese there is a 50 percent better chance that you’ll be overweight.  Choose the right tribe.

You can read Buettner’s work in his book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest

A summary of the book can be found here: https://bluezones.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Nat_Geo_LongevityF.pdf

You may listen to his TED talk, here.

The book’s website is bluezones.com