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Blue Zones Provide Secrets to a Long and Healthy Life

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Blue Zones Provide Secrets to a Long and Healthy Life

“Blue Zones,” as they were dubbed by Dan Buettner, author of the book “The Blue Zones Solution,” are areas in the world with the highest longevity. We can learn lessons about how to live longer and healthier lives from the five Blue Zones located in:


  • Okinawa, Japan

  • Sardinia, Italy

  • Nicoya, Costa Rica

  • Icaria, Greece

  • Loma Linda, California (Seventh-day Adventists)

Despite Blue Zones being located all over the world and their inhabitants living in very different cultures, nine commonalities were found between these groups of long-lived people. By trying to adopt these nine lessons from the world’s oldest and healthiest people, we can hopefully create positive change in our own lives.
The nine common elements (“The Power 9”) in the five Blue Zones:

  • Move Naturally

  • Purpose

  • Down Shift

  • 80% Rule

  • Plant Slant

  • Wine at 5

  • Belong

  • Loved Ones First

  • Right Tribe

Move Naturally
The longest-lived people reside in environments that naturally require movement. They don’t necessarily have planned “workouts,” they are just moving more often throughout the day – standing up, sitting down, squatting, lifting, pushing and pulling. Their lives are constantly filled with basic human movements.
According to the research done by Buettner, having a clear purpose in life has been shown to have a big impact on life expectancy. Having a bigger purpose allows for a more focused approach to life and all of the “little things” seem less important, leading to less stress (Down Shift).
Down Shift
We know chronic stress can be detrimental to our health, so it is no wonder the people with the greatest longevity and health also have routines that help them reduce stress. Building habits into your daily life that help you reduce stress can positively impact your life over time. Try meditation, “tea time,” a gratitude journal or going for a walk after dinner (which will also help you Move Naturally).
80 Percent Rule
Moderate calorie consumption is a big part of living a long life. The Okinawans say the phrase “hara hachi bu” (“belly 80 percent full”) before eating, to remind them that they should stop eating when they are 80 percent full. When you slow down and enjoy your food, it is a lot easier to stop when you are full, but not stuffed.
Plant Slant
Plant-based foods, especially beans, made up a large portion of the diet for the majority of the centenarians in the Blue Zones. They do still eat meat, but the focus of their diets is on plant foods, including vegetables, fruits and beans.
Wine at Five 
Moderate and regular alcohol consumption (one or two drinks per day) among friends and/or with a meal was another factor the Blue Zones had in common.
Actively participating in religious or spiritual groups (i.e., attending services and events) has been found to have one of the biggest impacts on life expectancy, according to the Blue Zone author. It can add up to 14 years to one’s life!
Loved Ones First
Putting family first is a common theme amongst the Blue Zones. These people live in communities with their elders still nearby, have a committed life partner and invest in their children.
Right Tribe
It is often said that we are most influenced by the five people with whom we spend the most time. The world’s longest-lived people were born into or chose to belong to social groups that support and value a healthy lifestyle.
By adopting even a couple of these habits we can cultivate healthier and happier lives for the long term. The environment, community and overall lifestyle of these populations have fostered habits that support longevity. Taking a holistic health and happiness approach to your life is the best way to begin incorporating these lessons into your daily life.
For more information on the Blue Zones visit: To learn more about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit or call 972.560.2655.

Article provided by Caitlin Allday, Texas A&M University student, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.