“The calculus of aging offers us two options: We can live a shorter life with more years of disability, or we can live the longest possible life with the fewest bad years. As my centenarian friends showed me, the choice is largely up to us.”
Somewhere along the way, you’ve likely heard of something called the Blue Zones — a term coined in reference to five hidden slivers of the world that boast the highest per capita populations of centenarians – people who thrive to 100 and beyond. Unlikely locales were people not only live inordinately long, but also seem resoundingly happier than their fellow western world equals.
Places where people forgot to die.
This is the work of my friend Dan Buettner.
A renaissance man in the truest sense, Dan transcends categorization. Global adventurer. Three-time Guinness Book world record holding endurance cyclist. National Geographic Fellow. Multiple New York Times bestselling author. A wellness and longevity superhero, Dan has keynoted speeches for Bill Clinton’s Health Matters Initiative, Google Zeitgeist, and TEDMED. He’s appeared on Oprah twice and his TED Talk “How to live to be 100+” has been viewed over 2 million times.
Without mincing words, Dan is my hero. A man who exudes life. A man with huge vision. And a man whose life work has positively, permanently and quite unequivocally improved the well being of millions.
You might have caught Dan on The TODAY Show (which is featuring segments on Dan and his work throughout the week), read about him in last Sunday’s PARADE magazine, seen him on NBC News or caught him on CNN’s The Wonder List a few weeks ago. The common theme of these stories? Grappling with the lifestyle tenets that govern Blue Zone cultures as a means to help the rest of us live longer and better.
According to Dan, Blue Zone cultures extending wellness into Ponce De Leon territory all live in accordance with 9 identifiable, convergent lifestyle principles (listed in the show notes below). Principles that are replicable on both the individual and civic level, as demonstrated by Dan’s Blue Zones Project– a community well-being improvement initiative that has wholly transformed 20 cities and municipalities to date by implementing permanent changes to environment, policy, and social networks that make healthy choices easier.
The Blue Zones Solution, Dan’s new book out this week, is a highly detailed primer that extrapolates from these principles powerful eating and lifestyle tools to transform your health. Buttressed with highly entertaining stories from Dan’s travels, I highly recommend checking it out – I was lucky enough to get an advance copy, and it’s a terrific read.
This is a phenomenal conversation that explores Dan’s new book, the aforementioned principles and what this means for you – how we can all implement certain lifestyle tenets to live longer and, most importantly, get the absolute most out of our years.
Beyond the Blue Zone universe, I tackle the story of the man behind the vision. A story that begins with Dan’s improbable encounter with the singular George Plimpton (lion of The Paris Review and another personal hero of mine) — a visionary man who catalyzed Dan’s purposeful life with one simple, yet powerful idea:
Above all, invest in adventure.
I sincerely hope you enjoy the exchange.
Peace + Plants,
Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson. Thanks boys!
Books by Dan:
- The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People *
- The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest *
- Thrive: Finding Happiness The Blue Zones Way *
The 5 Blue Zones:
- The Italian island of Sardinia.
- Okinawa, Japan.
- Loma Linda, California.
- Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula.
- Ikaria, an isolated Greek island off the coast of Turkey.
Dan’s 9 principles of a Blue Zone:
- Move naturally: Get more physically active by walking in the community, do manual labor around the house and yard, and grow gardens.
- Know your purpose: People who know why they get up in the morning live up to seven years longer than those who don’t.
- Down shift: To reverse inflammation related to every major age-related disease, find time each day to meditate, nap, pray or commune with friends.
- 80 percent rule: It takes the stomach 20 minutes to tell the brain it is full, causing most people to accidentally overeat. Stop eating when 80 percent full.
- Plant slant: Eat a mostly plant-based diet heavy on beans, nuts and green plants. This is consistent with U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations.
- Wine at 5: For those who have a healthy relationship with alcohol (not me), enjoy a daily glass of wine.
- Family first: Living in a thriving family is worth six extra years of life expectancy.
- Belong: Recommit, reconnect or explore a faith-based community. No matter which faith, studies show that people who show up to their faith community four times a month live an extra four to 14 years.
- Right tribe: Friends have a long-term impact on well-being. Expand a social circle to include healthy-minded, supportive people. This could be the most powerful way to add years to a life.
More cool stuff by and about Dan:
- TED.com: Dan Buettner: How to Live to 100+ (2.3 million views)
- TODAY Show: Living to 100 in Loma Linda (April 8, 2014)
- TODAY Show: Wine, Beans and Family: Sardinia’s Secret to Living to 100 (April 7, 2014)
- NBC News: Texas Mayor Hopes to Turn Cow Town into Long Living ‘Blue Zone’
- NYTimes.com: The Island Where People Forgot to Die, by Dan Buettner
- TED.com: Dan Buettner at TEDMED 2011
- CNN.com: Uncovering Secrets to a Longer Life, by Dan Buettner
- CNN.com: The Wonder List: The Island Where People Forgot to Die
- HuffingtonPost.com: The Fountain of Youth, by Samantha Boardman MD
- PARADE.com: The Cheaters Guide to Living to 100, by Ginny Graves
- Reddit.com: Reddit AMA with Dan Buettner
For the full reports on the Danish Twin Study and the North Karelia Project in Finland:
- “Genetic influence on human lifespan and longevity”
- “Successful prevention of non-communicable diseases: 25 year experiences with North Karelia Project in Finland” (Public Health Medicine, 2002)
*Disclosure: Books denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to our Amazon affiliate code. Any purchase will not cost you a cent extra but will support the show by shaking loose a little Amazon affiliate change in our direction.
CONTEST GIVEAWAY! This week three lucky listeners will win a Coco Jack Set (each valued at $36.95) from our friends at Coco-Jack.com (consider “liking” their Facebook Page and follow them on Twitter! ). It’s a safe, easy and fun way to open up your Young Thai coconuts, extract the juice and scoop out all the meat with one simple swoosh, no matter what your size or strength. It’s a gorgeous handy device. Our kids love using it!
To be eligible for this contest (and future contests we will be running each week through April 28), all you have to do is join our Thunderclap campaign — a crowd sourcing platform whereby you “pledge” a social media post in support of The Plantpower Way on April 27. Our goal is 1000 supporters to join our campaign, so show your love for the movement and let all our voices be heard all at once! To join, just click on the below banner and follow the simple instructions. It only takes a minute tops (did I say it’s free?). Thanks so much for the anticipated support. We will announce the Coco Jack winners on next week’s podcast!
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