Is there really a secret to living a long life? Dan Buettner, New York Times Bestseller, says there just may be.
Throughout his career, Buettner has studied the world's longevity hotspots, a.k.a the places people live the healthiest for the longest. And with a grant from the National Institute on Aging, Buettner, also a National Geographic fellow, set out “to reverse-engineer longevity,” as he describes it. He has been working with a team of scientists and demographers to hopefully explain the long life spans in these hotspots. Through their research, they uncovered five places that the longest-living humans call home.
If you're looking for the secret to living a long life, perhaps the below locales and the habits of their residents will inspire you.
The 5 "Blue Zones"
Wondering where the world's longest-living people are? Buettner's team has found that these zones are less about their coordinates on a map and more about the lifestyle.
1. Sardinia, Italy
The world's longest-living men live on this Italian island, with most of them being shepherds.
2. Loma Linda, California
Would you guess that the Americans who live the longest are those in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church? The Adventists have made Loma Linda, CA, a Blue Zone thanks to their religious beliefs.
3. Okinawa, Japan
Find long-living ladies on these islands, where the notions of ikigai (to be imbued with a sense of purpose) and moai (a strong social network) run strong.
4. Nicoya, Costa Rica
On the Nicoya peninsula, there is the lowest rate of middle-aged mortality.
5. Ikaria, Greece
In Ikaria, Greece, people live about eight years longer than the average American. The kicker? Ikarians have almost no dementia!
Why People Are Living Longer in These Places
So, why are these people living the longest? Buettner and his team found that most of these lifestyles included diets that led to their long lives.
In Sardinia, the shepherds typically eat a variation of the Mediterranean diet that is very high in beans, sourdough bread, and cannonau, a wine that contains more flavonoids than most others.
The Adventists in Loma Linda take their diet from The Bible (as their religion suggests), which is plant-based: "all plants that bear seeds and all trees that bear fruit." Health is a core value for Adventists, and they don’t tend to smoke or drink. They also tend to only hang out with other Adventists, which makes an interesting case for hanging out with people that inspire healthy habits instead of toxic ones.
The diet of the Okinawan women is also mostly plant-based. It is high in tofu, bitter melon, and turmeric.
'The people of Nicoya consume what I consider to be the best diet the human species has ever had,' Buettner says in the article. This diet is dominated by corn tortillas, black beans, and squash, and it's complemented with tropical fruits year-round. Cheap, tasty, and high in complex carbohydrates, Buettner says this diet has all the amino acids necessary for human sustenance. Plus, he says, it’s sustainable for the land—it doesn't deplete the soil or involve animal slaughter.
Lastly, in Ikaria, the purest form of the Mediterranean diet persists: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and olive oil. In addition, they drink plenty of herbal teas with sage, oregano, and rosemary.
'What’s most interesting about their diet, though,' Buettner says, 'is that it includes about 120 kinds of greens that we would essentially weed-whack in the US.'
He says, 'In Ikaria, they cut these greens down gingerly and make them into wonderfully exotic salads, or bake them into beautiful pies. Many of these greens have ten times the antioxidants you’d find in wine. And our study found that eating about half a cup of cooked greens a day is associated with about four extra years of life expectancy.'
Living a Long Life - What it Takes
There is no doubt that there are some common denominators amongst the five Blue Zones discussed above. It seems a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is ideal, along with an overall lifestyle that promotes wellness and wellbeing.
Do you have friends that contribute to unhealthy eating habits or substance abuse? Perhaps we can learn from these long-living folks—try to spend more time with people who support your goals instead of discourage you from reaching them. A Keto Diet may not be the one-size-fits-all answer to living a longer life, but it can certainly help some people reach a level of wellness they have never uncovered. Start being more mindful about what you put into your body, and your body will thank you with extra years.
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About the Author
Hi! I'm Viviana, a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach living in the sunny Miami, Florida with my husband. I'm the Health Coach here at WPN Supplements.
In my practice, I use a holistic approach to health and wellness, which means that I look at how all areas of your life are connected. My practice is based off of the concept of bio-individuality™, coined by The Institute for Integrative Nutrition - the idea that each of us has unique food and lifestyle needs and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
My goal is to help you to develop a lifestyle that promotes health, wholeness, self-acceptance and healing.
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