Longevity & Blue Zones

Our future promises technologies that will radically extend our lives, but right now there are tested methods for living long, exciting and healthy lives, even beyond 100 years. Dan Buettner has studied the world’s best aged people and found the lifestyle features that they have in common, creating a set of guidelines for living better and longer.

In a recently released TED Talk, “How to live to be 100+“, Dan outlined how he conducted his study by visiting regions of the world with higher rates of centenarians and noting what these communities have in common. He dispelled some longevity myths at the start and then laid out some of the key features shared by each long-lived community.

To find the path to long life and health, Dan Buettner and team study the world’s “Blue Zones,” communities whose elders live with vim and vigor to record-setting age. At TEDxTC, he shares the 9 common diet and lifestyle habits that keep them spry past age 100.

National Geographic writer and explorer Dan Buettner studies the world’s longest-lived peoples, distilling their secrets into a single plan for health and long life.

~ TED: “How to live to be 100+”


Some key points to take away from the talk:

  • Eat a mostly plant-based diet.
  • Avoid processed foods.
  • Eat 20% less food.
  • Drink wine sparingly each day.
  • Do low intensity physical activity regularly, through everyday activities.
  • Always have purpose.
  • Have regular periods of meditation, contemplation or calm.
  • Place value in the equity of age.
  • Surround yourself with many good friends.
  • Associate with people who live well too.
Move Naturally – Make your home, community and workplace present you with natural ways to move. Focus on activities you love, like gardening, walking and playing with your family.

Right Outlook – Know and be able to articulate your sense of purpose, and ensure your day is punctuated with periods of calm.

Eat Wisely – Instead of groping from fad diet to fad diets, use time-honored strategies for eating 20% less at meals. Avoid meat and processed food and drink a couple of glasses of wine daily.

Belong to the Right Tribe – Surround yourself with the right people, make the effort to connect or reconnect with your religion and put loved ones first.

~About Blue Zones

Dan has published the book Blue Zones to present his findings and launched the Blue Zones website. There’s a lot of very practical advice scattered throughout the website and, though I haven’t read it yet, I suspect the book is just as useful.

One feature of the website that I was impressed with was the Vitality Compass, a quick assessment of lifestyles that gives personalized recommendations for living better. It must be taken with a grain of salt and an unusual degree of honesty, but it seems to be a useful tool.

Much of what Dan presents in this work serves as validation for a lot of things we have already known to greatly increase health. What is most valuable in this work is that it gives us a framework that combines these scientific and folk insights and says unequivocally that this is how we should live if we want healthy and rewarding lives.

What will I take away from this and add to ways I am reshaping my life? I think I’ll likely start drinking wine more than just a couple times a year.

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