Explorer and author Dan Buettner and his team of researchers have discovered the secret to a longer life. You’d think a story like that would be front page news, but the answer they’ve uncovered is not the sexy silver-bullet solution headlines are made of. Instead they have found that the secret to prolonged good health is doing exactly the opposite of what all the fashions and fads prescribe.
Instead of taking up one strategy after another, hoping that each will be the golden ticket, the researchers found out that the way to be healthier and live longer is to consistently practice some simple, life-affirming habits day-in, day-out forever. No fads, no biggest-loser diets, no drama.
Buettner’s team and National Geographic researchers have been working for the last eight years to illuminate the secrets of the people in five specific places known as “Blue Zones,” spots in which residents live considerably longer than people elsewhere. These places are Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and Icaria, Greece.
“We found that all five Blue Zones possessed the same nine lifestyle characteristics,” Buettner writes on CNN’s opinion page.
Among them: a low-meat, plant-based diet (all of them ate a lot of beans) and a ritual of “downshifting” each day. They experience the same stresses we do — kids, health, finances — but they managed it through daily prayer, meditation, ancestor veneration or city-wide happy hours (like the Sardinians).
Social and physical environments that encourage the lifelong practice of these habits have residents living well and long. Unfortunately, you can’t just manufacture a healthy-making culture out of whole cloth. You can do as much as you can in your own life to take up these practices long-term, but if you really want to get serious about longevity, you might need to move to someplace a little more “blue.”
See Buettner’s TED talk here: