Picture yourself as really old. What are you imagining? Are you experiencing social isolation, ageism, or health problems? Or do you see an active lifestyle, strong social connections, health, purpose, and respect from your community?
If it's the former, you should look into the Blue Zones, regions where people tend to live longer and healthier lives than in other areas. You don't need to move to those areas, but we can all look at what they can teach us about living a long, healthy, and happy life.
What are Blue Zones?
The leading voice in this conversation is Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow, author, researcher, and founder of Blue Zones. Buettner has traveled the world researching areas and studying the lifestyle, cultural, and environmental factors contributing to longevity.
Buettner and fellow researchers recognized five areas named Blue Zones, where people live long and healthy lives. These areas include:
- Okinawa, Japan
- Sardinia, Italy
- Nicoya, Costa Rica
- Ikaria, Greece
- Loma Linda, California
Through extensive research and analysis, Dan Buettner and his team have uncovered the common lifestyle principles and cultural factors that contribute to the longevity of people in these areas.
The 9 Blue Zone Principles
Based on their research, Dan Buettner and his team have identified nine common principles among people in the Blue Zones. These principles are:
- Move naturally: Engage in physical activity as a part of your daily routine.
- Purpose: Have a sense of purpose that gives your life meaning and direction.
- Downshift: Learn to manage stress and find ways to relax.
- Eat wisely: Follow a plant-based diet low in processed foods and high in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.
- Wine at 5: Enjoy a glass of wine with friends or family in moderation.
- Belong: Be part of a community that supports and encourages healthy behaviors.
- Loved ones first: Put your family and loved ones first and prioritize spending time with them.
- Right tribe: Surround yourself with people who encourage healthy behaviors.
- Keep learning: Continually challenge your mind and engage in new activities and experiences.
The Science Behind Blue Zones
Implementing Blue Zone Principles into Your Life
- Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, whether walking, taking the stairs, or doing yoga.
- Find a sense of purpose that gives your life meaning and direction.
- Make time for relaxation and stress management, whether it's through meditation, journaling, or spending time in nature.
- Adopt a plant-based diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in processed foods and sugar.
- Spend time with friends and family, prioritizing relationships over work and other responsibilities.
Check out these other posts to help you incorporate more plants in your diet:
For more information on Blue Zones and the science behind it, watch Dan Buettner's docuseries on Netflix, Live To 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones. You can also visit Blue Zones, watch his Ted Talk, How to Live to be 100+, or grab one of Dan Buettner's many best-selling books on the topic:
- The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest
- The Blue Zones Challenge: A 4-Week Plan for a Longer, Better Life
- The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People
- The Blue Zones American Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100