Blue Zones: The Secrets to Longevity

One of our first year combined Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetic Internship students, Amanda Wittenberg, attended the Oregon Healthiest State Summit Conference this year, which also included a lecture by Dan Buettner on Blue Zones: The Secrets to Longevity. Below are Wittenberg's highlights: 

Over a decade ago, Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow, and a team of researchers set out to identify regions of the world with high concentrations of long-living people. These regions are characterized not only by the presence of centenarians at rates at least ten times that of the United States, but also have significantly lower rates of heart disease, obesity, cancer, or diabetes -- as Buettner says, "where people live measurably longer, better." These regions were termed "Blue Zones" for a practical reason: The researchers circled these regions on a map with a blue pen.

Buettner identifies five regions as Blue Zones: 1) Ikaria, Greece; 2) Loma Linda, California; 3) Sardinia, Italy; 4) Okinawa, Japan; and 5) Nicoya, Costa Rica. When exploring the people of these regions, they found several commonalities in their ways of life contributing to their health and longevity - the "Power Nine":

  1. Move Naturally – Life requires regular movement
  2. Purpose – Live for reasons beyond work
  3. Downshift – Maintain routines to destress
  4. 80 Percent Rule – Stop eating when 80 percent full
  5. Plant Slant – Beans are the foundation of most diets
  6. Wine @ 5 – Drink moderately and regularly
  7. Right Tribe – Part of social circles supporting healthy behaviors
  8. Community – Belong to a faith-based community
  9. Loved Ones First – Put families first

What's the lesson? Find natural movement, eat well, stress less, wake up each day with a purpose, and love more.