Exploring Longevity: Enter the Blue Zones

January 31st, 2020

Two men sitting at a table

By: Kevin Gorom – Fit and Food Connection Board Director

Learning to Live Longer, Better

Like many people, I have my perspective on the healthy activities I need on a regular basis to be ‘healthy’. This has been influenced by family, friends, diet fads, news articles, US social norms – the list goes on. For me, it’s important to understand the factors of longevity; otherwise, it becomes much easier to fall off the bandwagon of healthy living without a target end state in mind.

A few years ago, I read ‘The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer’ and was immediately inspired. Since then, I’ve consumed all related books available, seen a live speaking engagement on the topic, and invested a great deal of time telling my circle of friends and family about the topic. Dan Buettner is an explorer, who worked with support from National Geographic, to understand hotspots of longevity. This meant finding locations around the world with high concentrations of centenarians (people living over 100) – but living to that age without the common health problems our society encounters (ex: heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia).

When traveling around the world, Dan and his team found five locations that he dubbed blue zones:

  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Loma Linda, California

Genetically, there is no difference between people from these areas and the surrounding population. The difference in health outcomes is driven by behavioral factors. Dan Buettner’s team sought to identify commonalities across these regions that drive improved health outcomes and distilled them to the Power of 9 below:

  1. Move naturally – Live in an environment where you’re constantly moving (these populations do NOT go to the gym, they move naturally throughout the day)
  2. Purpose – Have a reason to wake up in the morning
  3. Down Shift – Embrace mechanisms that reduce stress (nap, yoga, etc.)
  4. 80% rule – Consume fewer calories
  5. Plant Slant – Eat a mostly vegetarian diet
  6. Wine @ 5 – Moderate alcohol consumers outlive non-drinkers (1-2 glasses)
  7. Belong – Build a sense of community (Church)
  8. Loved Ones First – Take care of your family (aging parents, spouse, children)
  9. Right Tribe – Your outcomes are heavily influenced by your circle of friends; choose wisely

Blue Zone Graphic

I encourage everyone to learn more about the blue zones. There is no better way to learn how to live a long life than pursuing the regimens commonly pursued by those who, on average, live not only longer, but healthier lives until the end.

Kevin Gorom

Image: Fit and Food Connection Board Director Kevin Gorom trying his hand at Ikarian Longevity Stew

Notice of Non-Affiliation and Disclaimer

The Fit and Food Connection is not affiliated, associated, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the Blue Zones, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates. The official website can be found at https://www.bluezones.com/.