Blue Zones are home to the world's longest-living people. Learn from them, then live like them.
We’re not denying the seductive promise of eternal youth. But in our relentless pursuit of time-erasing solutions, we may all be asking the wrong question from the start. Instead of trying to stay young forever, shouldn’t we be wondering how to age better than ever before?
That’s what National Geographic writer Dan Buettner set out to discover in his groundbreaking study on the world’s Blue Zones — geographical pockets where citizens are up to 10 times more likely to live to be 100 than in the United States. Through his books, articles, and viral TED talk, he’s captivated wellness-seekers with decade-long research about long-living, cancer- and depression-averse communities from Loma Linda, California to Okinawa, Japan.
What the Blue Zones and Buettner’s work teach us is that there’s no silver bullet or magic pill to stave off aging. Instead, it’s a combination of factors: drastically reducing stress, eating antioxidant-rich whole foods, living life with a sense of purpose, and enjoying strong family and community ties chief among them. Not surprisingly, ultra-accelerated modern life with its endless staring at computer screens and always-on workweek aren’t doing us any favors.
The good news is there’s plenty to be learned from the garden-obsessed Okinawans and shepherds of Sardinia. Chill out a little. Savor that glass of red wine. Take more naps. Make hosting friends part of your family’s traditions. Consider making your next vacation a pilgrimage to one of the four most picturesque Blue Zones across the globe. You'll find a mini travel guide in the slideshow above. And in the meantime, bring the Blue Zone to you by putting into practice the habits listed here:
1. Eat a Mediterranean diet of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish.
2. Bulk up on antioxidants, especially from red wine, high-quality tea, and leafy greens.
3. Get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
4. Stay away from processed foods.
5. Cultivate family and a strong sense of community.
6. Go easy on dairy products.
7. Keep an active sex life into old age.
8. Walk, take the stairs, climb hills: move constantly, not just during “workouts.”
9. Find a stress-management strategy, whether it’s through spirituality, meditation, or lots of naps.