On Our "Virtual Route 66" With this Special Quarter-End Edition

 

9 Secrets of Blue Zones: How Many Do You Follow?

 

Average Americans are living 10-15 years less than people in other developed countries.

 

That's a shocking finding, but what's driving it?

 

I recently sat down with author, researcher, and explorer Dan Buettner on my Moonshots podcast to help answer this question. Dan is a brilliant friend who has spent the last few decades researching "Blue Zones," a phrase he coined for regions of the world where people routinely live beyond 90. (Note: Dan now uses a new metric called "health adjusted life expectancy," meaning the years of life you can expect to live in full health, without chronic disease or disability, what I call healthspan.)

 

In today's blog, I'll summarize Dan's research findings and the 9 fundamentals of Blue Zone wisdom that could help you add years to your life.

 

Let's dive in…

 

 

9 Fundamentals of Blue Zone Wisdom

 

During Dan’s decades of research, he’s identified 9 common denominators of Blue Zones. Let's explore them – which of these do you implement in your life?

 

#1. Move Naturally & Incorporate Physical Activity into Daily Life

"More than 75% of Americans don't even get 20 minutes of physical activity," Dan notes. But the good news is, "The biggest gain is to go from zero activity to 20 minutes a day. That's 3 years of life expectancy right there."

 

For those over 60, building and maintaining muscle is crucial. Simple activities like after-dinner walks or walking meetings can have a huge impact. As I've been saying, "Sitting is the new smoking!"

 

#2. Find Your Purpose

Having a purpose in life can add up to 7 years of extra life expectancy. This is why I talk so much about having a Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP). A purpose-driven life naturally leads to higher energy and better social connections.

 

#3. Downshift

This one is personally my biggest challenge! Downshifting means finding ways to unwind and reduce stress daily. In Blue Zones, this often involves gardening, after dinner walks, and rituals like expressing gratitude before meals. As my Chief Medical Officer at Fountain Life, Dr. Helen Messier, suggests, taking deep breaths before eating can put you in a "rest and digest" mode.

 

#4. Aim to Be 80% Full

This principle comes from an Okinawan adage to stop eating when your stomach is 80% full. In practice, this often means “pre-plating food” and putting the rest away, rather than eating family-style and stuffing yourself. It's about limiting the amount of food you intend to eat upfront. (Note: there is a time delay between consuming food and feeling full.)

 

#5. Eat a Whole-plant Diet

Blue Zone diets typically include meat only about 5 times per month. As Dan notes, "The average American eats about 240 pounds of meat a year!" In contrast, Blue Zone residents eat about 20 pounds annually. They also consume about a cup of beans daily, which is associated with living about 4 years longer. (Note: I’m intending to increase my bean consumption.)

 

#6. Alcohol Intake

Interestingly, despite conflicting research, Blue Zone residents often drink 2 glasses of homemade wine per day. Dan's observation? "A little bit doesn't seem to get in the way of living a long time in Blue Zones." (Note: from a medical standpoint, I still believe there is likely more negative impact of alcohol consumption, than positive. I’ve cut it out except for an occasional glass of wine.)

 

#7. Spirituality

Participation in faith-based services 4 times per month is associated with 4 to 14 extra years of life expectancy. Dan shares, "I interviewed personally about 430 centenarians and 425 of them said they belong to a faith-based community."

 

#8. Keeping Parents & Grandparents Close By

In Blue Zones, it would shame the family to put older relatives in a retirement home. As Dan points out, "I think we're quick to dismiss the benefits of having our aging parents around." Doing so can lead to a 2 to 6 year drop in life expectancy.

 

#9. Importance of Community & Your Social Circle

You're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Dan shares a striking statistic: "We know that if our three best friends are obese or overweight, there's about 150% better chance that you'll be overweight. Who we hang out with has a huge and lasting impact on our health."

 

 

Why Your Mindset Matters So Much

 

Adopting these Blue Zone behaviors long-term requires what I call a “Longevity Mindset.” It's about having a positive motivator stronger than the immediate gratification of unhealthy choices.

 

I didn't develop my Longevity Mindset until after I turned 50. Now, I've trained myself to love healthy foods. My favorite food used to be chocolate chip ice cream, now it’s broccoli with olive oil and lemon.

 

A fundamental component of my upcoming Longevity Platinum Trip will be helping you develop your Longevity Mindset and covering the key “Longevity Basics,” including diet, sleep, fitness and other areas of your life that you can control to extend your healthspan. If you choose to join us, get ready for some life-changing habits!

 

As I’ve mentioned before, your mindset matters... a lot! A study of 69,744 women and 1,429 men, published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that OPTIMISTIC people live as much as 15% longer than pessimists.

 

So, a lot is under your control! By adopting these Blue Zone principles and cultivating a Longevity Mindset, you have the power to significantly extend your healthspan. 

 

The question is: how long do you really want to live?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Notations On Our World (Special Edition): Prepare for Hurricane Ida

On Our "Virtual Route 66" : Thoughts on Safety & The Future For the Month