Secrets from the world’s longest-lived people
In 2004, National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner and some of the world’s premier longevity researchers began identifying and studying places where people lived measurably better, longer. During their research, they began to focus in on five areas where residents were obviously doing something right. People were reaching age 100 at a rate 10 times greater than in the United States, and with lower rates of chronic disease.
Despite these communities being scattered across the globe and representing a variety of different cultures, there are characteristics that all blue zones have in common, like minimizing stress, moving regularly throughout the day, having a clear sense of purpose, and sticking to a mostly plant-based diet.
This island off the coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea has some of the world’s lowest rates of middle-age mortality and dementia. Ikarians’ increased longevity has been linked to their traditional Mediterranean diet, which is heavy in vegetables and healthy fats and contains a smaller percentage of dairy and meat products.
This island in a subtropical archipelago is home to the longest-lived women on the planet. Staple foods like Okinawan sweet potatoes, soybeans, mugwort, turmeric, and goya (a bitter melon) keep Okinawans living long, healthy lives.
A cluster of villages on this island make up the first blue zone region identified, boasting nearly 10 times more centenarians per capita than the U.S. Sardinians still hunt, fish, and harvest the food they eat. They laugh and drink wine together, and remain close with friends and family throughout their lives.
Loma Linda, California
A community of about 9,000 Seventh-day Adventists in the Loma Linda, California, area is the core of America’s blue zone region. They live as much as a decade longer than most Americans by following a biblical diet of grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Plus, Adventists don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
Nicoya, Costa Rica
In this Central American region, the population has the world’s lowest rate of middle-age mortality and the second-highest concentration of male centenarians. Their longevity secret lies partly in their strong faith communities, deep social networks, and habits of regular, low-intensity physical activity.