Learn the Secrets of the Blue Zones, Where People Live Longer, Better Lives

by Brenna Kehew Sculley

by Amber Edwards
Summer is in full swing, and there’s never a better part of the year to be in touch with your wellness.
Perhaps in your summer travels, you’ve had the opportunity to experience the Mediterranean in all its glory, and beyond the beauty, there is wellness apparent in the way the elderly residents move about those charming old-world cities and towns. There are just places in the world that seem to have it all figured out, and researchers have been diving in to figure out what factors are the key.
First popularized after a 1999 study of elderly people living in Sardinia, a blue zone is a region where people live significantly longer, healthier lives. Funnily enough, the term came from the fact that the researchers studying this phenomenon simply circled the areas on the map that met their wellness criteria in blue pen. The concept was originally developed by Michel Poulain Professor Emeritus at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, Giovanni Mario Pes, and has now been developed and popularized by co-founder Dan Buettner, author and producer, and blue zone expert.
Buettner worked to identify the locations that featured the most centenarian and developed more research on select communities with a high propensity of centenarians. These locations: Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Icaria (Greece), and the Seventh-day Adventist community in Loma Linda (California, USA) are diverse but all share common traits. These traits include a plant-based diet, regular physical activity, strong social ties, moderate alcohol consumption, mainly wine, and a sense of purpose. These lifestyle factors contribute to their exceptional longevity and low rates of chronic diseases, offering insights into practices that promote extended health and lifespan.
You may have seen the excellent Netflix special, Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones which features Buettner as the host and immerses the viewer in the lives of these healthy, elderly, thriving people across the world. The factors that make this possible are not just the easy-to-assume, healthy diet, and generally active lifestyle. It is also in the steepness of the hills you walk in your everyday life, a connection to your family that grounds you, and living a life where stress is relieved or minimal.
The concept of a blue zone is now formally Blue Zones®, a trademark of Blue Zones, LLC, and reflects the lifestyle and the environment of the world’s longest-lived people. They have recipes, a meal planner, resources, a newsletter, and fresh tips for anyone looking to incorporate more Blue Zone habits into their lives.
So tap into the research and embrace what feels right to live well for longer. Eliza Cheng, a dietitian and nutritionist living in California’s Loma Linda, shared her daily diet in a piece for CNBC Make It. Adopting these habits can enhance physical health, improve mental well-being, and foster a supportive community environment. By integrating these principles into daily life, individuals can potentially reduce healthcare costs, increase life satisfaction, and contribute to a healthier, more sustainable society.

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