How To Live to be 100 – Make a Blue Zone

Blue Zone Solution – How to Live to 100

Reference:   Blue Zone Solutions by Dan Buettner

August 31, 2015

What’s a Blue Zone?   It’s the places in the world where people live up to 100. This is a research-based book that looks at those little “hot spots” where there are the most centarians and tries to ferret out just what got them to 100.

The places listed are Ikaria, Greece, Okinawa, the Ogliastra Region of Sardina, Loma Linda, California (7th day Adventists), and Nicoya, Costa Rica.

Dan Buettner has done more than list the common findings that appeared to contribute to their long lives. His core thesis is that it’s not just one thing that makes for healthy life style, it’s the totality, the ecosystem.   He has started a project of creating Blue Zone communities in America.   He has found four towns in Iowa that have agreed to participate in the key feature of being a Blue Zone: changing the overall environment to make “healthy” choices something that enough people do that your ecosystem supports it naturally.   Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Spencer and Mason City have all signed up. In each of those communities up to 40% of the residents thave agreed to participate in moving more, eating differently and focusing on community and relationships.

The list of what Buettner says makes for longevity include his “Power Nine”.   First, Move More Naturally. Add walking, gardening, less driving. Two, have a purpose when you wake up. Three, find a way to let go of stress. Downshift.   Four: Hara Hichi Bu – eat till you are 80% full, with your smallest meal late in the day. Five: Plant Slant – more vegetables, beans, soy, lentils with meat here and there. Six: Have Wine at Five.   Seven: Moais – social groups of support that connect regularly and have your back. Eight: Community – 258 of 263 centarians belonged to some faith community. Attend some sort of faith community and add 4-14 years to your life. Nine: Loved Ones First. Commit to a life partner and add 3 years. Take care of frail elderly in your home.

Eating is a big part of it.   In all the varied cuisines, he found some commonalities.   The Mediterranean diet was 50% fat, but that was from almost all olive oil. It also included daily doses of greens right from the garden. The Seventh Day Adventists were almost vegans with only tiny amounts of meat.   None of the diets had sugar, or modern vegetable oils, or trans fats, or high glycemic grains. The Sardinians had dense durum wheat but ate much more barley. The Okinawans had tons of sweet potatoes. A sprinkling of meat here and there, or fish.

What the book doesn’t address is that all these societies had women spending all day making food, not in careers or jobs.   They were all of “modest means” in “traditional societies” with clearly defined gender roles, on the margin of modern society.  Even the Seventh Day Adventists  fit the description of being pretty “traditional”.  What to make of that?

This book might be your pathway on what to do once you have lost weight and reversed the toxicity of our modern American diet, rich in sugar, processed fats and grains and abundant in fake chemicals and mass produced vegetables picked for shipping and handling, not directly from a local garden.  Certainly, the strong emphasis on friends, stress and environment is something we should all pay attention to.

WWW. What will work for me.   I’m eager to see what lab testing shows on folks who do this. I’m completely on board with the community data. We all need and yearn for love and connection in our lives.   Our American suburbs isolate us into lonely cells walled off by green lawns.   Now I understand the wonderful role played by my church community, my hiking club, my bridge club, my fishing buddies. They have my back. They check in on me. They are my Moais.   Can you create your own Blue Zone? Can we encourage one another by our group participation? Check out your next potluck dinner, see what you can create. Find someone else’s back to cover.

Pop Quiz

  1.   A Blue Zone is an place of unusual “excellence” in biological survival – where more of us humans live longer, better and well.   T or F

True

2.   All the Blue Zones in this book showed that aging folks woke up with something to do and look forward to, a purpose.  T or F

True

3.    All long lived societies have food emphasizing vegetables, locally grown foods, less sugar, less meat and no modern trans fats – fats being animal origin or olive.   T or F

That seems to be the general trend.

4.    The Blue Zone experiment in America involves 4 towns where up to 40% of people are participating in making a “healthier” environment that includes exercise, friendships, social belonging and reinforced food choices.   T or F

That is the premise.  That we need to change our whole environment.

5.   Participating in a faith community once a month appears to add time to your life.  T or F

Well, it may, but the data seems to be four times, and that adds from 4 to 14 years.