Secrets to Living Longer: What We Can Learn from Blue Zones

Secrets to Living Longer

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Secrets to Living Longer: What We Can Learn from Blue Zones

Global life expectancy in 2016 72 years – but today, more people than ever are joining the ranks of centenarian (person who lives to be 100 (or more))

Worldwide centenarian* population is projected to grow 8X by 2050
2050: 3,767,000
2015: 451,000

Secrets of People Who’ve Lived the Longest

From Ponce de León to present, everyone is looking for a way to live longer ― what can we learn from those who are among the oldest in the world?

When asked, centenarians accredit varying reasons to their extended lifetime:

Positivity
“Attitude, attitude, attitude” – Trudi Fletcher, 100
Exercise
“Move it or lose it” – Louise Calder, 101
Clean living
“Just stay out of trouble” – Harry Adler, 101
Cigars and Whiskey?
“Just keep living, don’t die” – Richard Overton, 112
With so many factors, is there really a way to predict who will live the longest?

Gender
In 2016, the global average life expectancy after age 60
Men: 19 years
Women: 22 years
Genes
The offspring of centenarians stay healthier than same-age counterparts
60% lower prevalence of heart attacks
71% less risk of cancer mortality
Geography
Blue Zones are geographic regions of particular longevity and health
Higher concentrations of centenarians
Lower risk of middle-age mortality
Fewer cases of dementia and Alzheimers

What is it about Blue Zones that cause people to live longer?

Secrets of the Blue Zones

Okinawa, Japan
Life expectancy is 85.3 years ㅡ the highest overall life expectancy in the world
Emphasis on plant-based diet and lifelong social groups
Tradition of Ikigai or “reason for being” emphasizes a purposeful life
Loma Linda, California
Life expectancy is over 10 years longer than for average Americans
Follow “Biblical diet” of vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts
Tight-knit community stems from strong religious motivations
Ikaria, Greece
1 in 3 Ikarians live to be at least 90 years old
Prevalent Mediterranean diet ― healthy fat, small amount of meat and dairy
Mountain living means vigorous exercise is part of daily life
Sardinia, Italy
Home to nearly 10X more centenarians than the US*
Traditional lifestyle features low-protein, plant-based diet
Close family relationships tie into a strong sense of community
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Men over 60 are 7X more likely to reach age 100*
Roots of indigenous diet linger with diet of mostly squash, corn, and beans
A strong sense of life purpose is cultivated ㅡ a plan de vida
Patterns within these Blue Zones ㅡ like diet and emphasis on community ㅡ contain possible answers for prolonging and improving quality of life

Not-So-Secret Ways to Live Longer

How long we live is determined by
Genetics: 25%
Lifestyle and choices: 75%

“It follows that if we optimize our lifestyles, we can maximize our life expectancies within our biological limits” ― Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones

Physical
Exercise:
30-minute intervals of physical activity, 5X per week helps keep weight and blood pressure under control

Diet:
Recommended to eat lots of vegetables and low amounts of meat and dairy
As far as what not to do ㅡ not smoking is one of the most important factors in maintaining good health

Social
Family:
Having a close familial bond can help prevent behaviors stemming from childhood that would negatively affect physical health over time

Community:
Socializing and engaging with others releases natural pain-relieving hormones and lowers stress levels

Mental
Purpose:
Enjoying work is associated with living a longer and healthier life

Attitude:
Those with a positive outlook on aging were 50% less likely to develop dementia than those with a negative view

What habits can you start now to help you live better and longer?

Secrets to Living Longer

SOURCES:
https://www.who.int/gho/mortality_burden_disease/life_tables/situation_trends/en/
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/21/worlds-centenarian-population-projected-to-grow-eightfold-by-2050/
http://www.thecentenarian.co.uk/how-many-people-live-to-hundred-across-the-globe.html
https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2013/08/20/7-life-secrets-of-centenarians/#111aa0291af5
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/05/11/richard-overton-americas-oldest-man-smokes-drinks-and-turns-112/601804002/
http://apps.who.int/gho/data/view.main.SDG2016LEXREGv?lang=en
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0029848#s2
https://books.google.com/books?id=8vrz6l1t6T0C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
https://www.bluezones.com/exploration/sardinia-italy/
https://www.bluezones.com/exploration/ikaria-greece/
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html
https://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/world-health-statistics-2014/en/
https://www.bluezones.com/exploration/okinawa-japan/
https://www.bluezones.com/exploration/loma-linda-california/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241350/
https://www.bluezones.com/exploration/nicoya-costa-rica/
https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/why-is-physical-activity-so-important-for-health-and-wellbeing
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(18)30135-X/fulltext
https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/tips-for-a-longer-life
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28880102
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321019.php
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110311153541.htm
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0191004