Natural Health: Blue Zones

Contributing Writer, Dr. Alex Ognibene

Teams of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers, and epidemiologists have searched every corner of the earth to find what they have dubbed Blue Zones. These are the pockets of people around the world with the highest life expectancy, or those with the highest proportion of people who live to be 100. Their behaviors and commonalities have since been studied extensively to answer the question of how to live a longer, happier life. Dan Buettner explains these nine shared traits in detail in his book Blue Zones. This article will briefly touch on each.

  1. Calorie restriction and fasting. Avoiding overeating and making a conscious effort to fast occasionally keep people in Blue Zones at a healthy body weight.
  2. Strong family connections. Blue Zone centenarians put family first. They commit to their life partners, and invest in their children with time and love.
  3. Having a meaningful life purpose. Having a strong sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of added life expectancy.
  4. Low-level physical activity throughout the day. Spending the majority of waking hours doing things like walking, gardening, chopping wood, and other household chores keep these individuals with a proper ratio between body fat and muscle mass.
  5. Staying stress-free. People from Blue Zones routinely practice stress-relieving techniques such as meditation, prayer, naps, and taking time to remember ancestors.
  6. Consume high amounts of legumes. Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils are foods with low glycemic index, and they make up a significant portion of all Blue Zone centenarians’ diets.
  7. Close social engagements. The world’s longest-living people choose, or are born into, social circles that support healthy behavior.
  8. Moderate alcohol consumption. With the exception of the Seventh Day Adventists, all people from Blue Zones drink alcohol moderately and regularly.
  9. Belief in a higher power. Nearly all centenarians belong to some faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter.

To live to 100 like many people from these Blue Zones, a lot of things have to go right. However, adopting some or all of these characteristics will undoubtedly give us our best fighting chance. What do we have to lose?

Yours in Health,
Dr. Alex