“The premise of blue zone: If we could find the optimal lifestyle of longevity we could come up with a defacto formula for longevity.” ~ Dan Buettner
Dan Buettner explores the premise of blue zones in his popular Ted Talk How to Live to be 100+. He teamed up with the National Geographic and the National Institute on Aging on a quest to find four demographically confirmed areas whose populations are experiencing higher than usual life expectancy rates.
The four identified Blues Zones are:
- Sardinia, Italy
- Okinawa, Japan
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
- Icaria, Greece
Buettner explains that the capacity of the human body is about 90 years. However, the life expectancy in the United States is about 78 years. Buettner suggests that ‘we have 12 years that we could still get’.
A team of experts was brought in to find out exactly what the individuals aging in the Blue Zones do to stay healthy and live longer. The team was able to identify several common life-style characteristics found in these cultures:
- Move Naturally. They set up their lives so they are constantly ‘nudged’ into physical activity. When they do intentional physical activity its things they enjoy. They all tend to have a garden.
- Right Outlook. Each culture takes the time to downshift. They all have a vocabulary for a sense of purpose.
- Eat Wisely. They all eat a plant-based diet and have strategies to keep from over eating.
- Connect. Each culture puts families first by taking care of their children and their aging parents. They all belong to a faith-based community. They actively surround themselves with the right people (individuals who have healthy lifestyles).
When tasked with finding a North American Blue Zone the team identified one in Loma Linda, California. The Blue Zone Foundation has partnered with AARP and the United Health Foundation to build more Blue Zones in the United States. Check out their website to see the progress of a Blue Zone in Minnesota.