They are called blue zones – places in the world where people live longer and healthier than anywhere else on earth. Several of these blue zones exist, and in each of these places people living to 90 or even 100 years is common. And they aren’t just living long either—these people are living healthy—without medication or disability (see video later in this post).
Five blue zones have so far been identified and thoroughly researched by journalist Dan Buettner in a partnership with National Geographic during more than five years of on-site investigation. So what is the secret to longevity and health underlying these fascinating communities? Do they possess modern technology, do they take massive amounts of supplements, do they run on treadmills, do they have special genes? As you may have guessed, the answer is none of these.
The five blue zones are as follows:
- The Italian island of Sardinia
- Okinawa, Japan
- Loma Linda, California
- Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula
- Ikaria, an isolated Greek island
Its Lifestyle, Stupid!
So lets cut to the chase instead of building up the suspense any further. After more than five years of investigation, what has Buettner discovered about why people in these places are living so long? The secret is lifestyle. Quite simply, these people live a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet, daily exercise, and a low stress life that incorporates family, purpose, religion, and meaning. Sure we can go into more detail, and we will, but at a high level it really is this simple.
Although it may seem hard to achieve this lifestyle, the absolute simplicity and power of it should actually be refreshing and uplifting. People are always thinking that complicated medicine and expensive modern technological therapies are required to live long and healthy. But it simply isn’t so. The gift of a long and healthy life is already in the hands of each and every one of us. It is up to each of us to choose the lifestyle of health, and sadly most of us are choosing not to live that lifestyle. To each his own.
Pollute Your Body And It Suffers – Imagine That!
So lets get into a bit more detail. First off, what do we mean by a healthy diet? A healthy diet, according to mountains of literature, and now supported by blue zone investigation, is one that is loaded with vegetables, fruits, fish, and nuts and low on meat, sugar, fat, and the toxic processed foods of modern civilization. Buettner actually goes into even more detail, highlighting red wine, goats milk, local teas, and several other aspects of blue zone diets that seem to be beneficial. Sure you can get all precise about it if you want, but my take is that the exact details, such as red wine, are not so important. What is most important is the high level theme of generally eating good stuff (fruits, veggies, fish) and cutting out the bad stuff (meat, fat, sugar).
Your body is a living biological machine. Is it surprising our bodies suffer when we stuff them with inflammatory, chemically destructive diets high in saturated fat and sugar? The literature shows that heart disease and diabetes can often be almost 100% attributed to a lifetime of obesity and poor diet. It has been documented in thousands of trials and scientific studies that the incidence and severity of several major diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s, can be severely restricted by a healthy diet.
People in blue zones eat healthy diets, and not surprisingly they suffer from these major diseases either less frequently or not at all. That means they live longer and healthier. According to Beuttner, in blue zone Ikaria the people suffer from one half the rate of heart disease and 20% less cancer than Americans and there are more healthy people over 90 than anywhere else in the world.