The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest

The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest

by Dan Buettner

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Living a healthy, active life well into your 90s-and possibly your 100s-may be easier than you think. Award-winning author and researcher Dan Buettner has traveled the world to meet the planet's longest-lived people, and learned nine powerful yet simple lessons that could put you on the path to longer life. Where did he find them? In the Blue Zones.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426207556
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Publication date: 10/19/2010
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 88,220
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Dan Buettner is a National Geographic Explorer, a writer, and the founder of Quest Network, Inc. His 2005 cover story for National Geographic magazine, "Secrets of Living Longer," was a finalist for the National Magazine Award. He has appeared on CNN, David Letterman, Good Morning America, Primetime Live, and the Today Show to discuss his Blue Zone research and has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches over the last 10 years.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface Get Ready to Change Your Life xiii

Chapter 1 The Truth About Living Longer 1

Chapter 2 The Sardinian Blue Zone 23

Chapter 3 The Blue Zone in Okinawa 65

Chapter 4 An American Blue Zone 121

Chapter 5 Discovering Costa Rica's Blue Zone 167

Chapter 6 Your Personal Blue Zone 225

Bibliography 263

Index 269

Illustration Credits 279

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“A must-read if you want to stay young! Buettner teaches us the secrets of the world’s longest-lived cultures and how they can turn back your biological clock.”
—Mehmet C. Oz, M.D.

The Blue Zone is one of the most important and engaging stories you will ever read! With Dan Buettner as your intrepid narrator, you will visit locations where people are living the longest, healthiest lives anywhere on the planet. More importantly, you will learn how to immediately incorporate those lessons from faraway places into your very own life. When I hosted the documentary, Chasing Life, Dan Buettner was the man we looked to for advice. Now, you have all of it at your fingertips. Inside: The Secret to a Long Life.”
—Sanjay Gupta, M.D.

“This book gives you practical tips for living long and well—the essential components of lifestyles in those areas of the world where healthy aging is the rule. I recommend it.”
—Andrew Weil, M.D.

“After a lifetime in the health and beauty business, I had the feeling that I knew most everything about aging gracefully. Then along comes Blue Zones, which is a valuable guide to help us achieve longer healthier lives. Each engaging encounter reveals simple, healthy choices that everyone can incorporate into their lives no matter where they live. Thank you, Dan Buettner!”
—Cheryl Tiegs

 “Dan Buettner takes us on a journey to explore the secrets of longevity and in so doing introduces us to a world of joy in aging... at 91, this is very good news!”
—Walter Cronkite


Q In your book, you identify the "Power 9": nine habits or behaviors all Blue Zone populations have in common. Could you talk about one or two that the average American takes most for granted?
A Many Americans exercise too hard. The life expectancy of our species, for 99.9% of human history, was about 30 years. The fact that medicine has pushed life expectancy to age 78 doesn't mean our bodies were designed for three-quarters of a century of pounding. Muscles tear, joints wear out, backs go out. The world's longest-lived people tend to do regular, low intensity physical activity, like walking with friends, gardening and playing with their children. The key is to do something light every day.

I also think the trend toward isolation is a mistake. Drive down any American street at 9:00 pm and you can see the greenish glow of the television or the computer in people's window. We've become an increasingly isolated society. Fifteen years ago, the average American had three good friends. Now it's down to two. We know that isolation shaves good years off of your life. In The Blue Zones, I advocate reconnecting with your religious community and proactively building friendships with the right people.

Q Is there something about the physical landscape that contributes to an area being a Blue Zone, or can people make their own personal Blue Zones, regardless of where they live?
A Staying young and living long is mostly a function of your environment…and the good news is that to a great extent, we each have control over that environment. In the Blue Zones around the world, people live in places where walking is the main means of transportation, where the sun shines strong all year long so they get enough vitamin D; where they have established social norms that bring people together in supportive groups or clubs. The Blue Zones book shows you how to take about two hours and set up your home, your social life and your work place to help you get up to 10 more good years out of life (and look younger along the way!).

Q Are Blue Zones about living longer, or living better?
A Both. The same things that get you to a healthy 100 get you there better. The Blue Zones offers a completely different way to think about longevity and youth maintenance. If you look at the Power9- the common denominators of the longest-lived people-you see that they tend to put their families first, they belong to a faith-based community and they know their sense of purpose. All of these behaviors are associated with 3-6 years of life (which is better than any diet can promise) and they're good years. In other words, the same Blue Zone tenets that will help you get to a healthy age 90 will help ensure those years are vital and enriching.

Q If considering all nine habits at once seems overwhelming, what's the first step someone could take toward living a more enriching, longer life?
A The good news is that the Power9 is an a la carte menu: by no means do you have to do all nine to gain more good years out of life. In fact, do six of them and get about 90% of the benefit. The most important thing you can do is building your own Right Tribe. Which is to say-all of the world's longest-lived people were born into, or consciously chose to associate with, the right people. The Framingham Studies show us that if your three best friends are obese, there's a 50% better chance that you'll be obese. The reverse is true too. If you dine with people who eat healthy food, you're more likely to eat healthy food; if the friends you spend the most time with play a sport, you're more likely to join them. As your mother said, "You're known by the company you keep." You're also likely to resemble them.

About the Author
Journalist and longevity expert Dan Buettner, in conjunction with the National Institute on Aging and top researchers in the field, has done exhaustive research to locate and learn from the extraordinarily long-lived communities he now calls blue zones.

Buettner is currently reporting from Ikaria, Greece, where he has discovered his latest blue zone. On this so-called island of longevity, the secret is lifestyle. More than one third of northeastern Ikarians live past age 90 and experience almost no cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or dementia. Like all blue zones, Ikaria, offers recipes for longevity we can all follow.

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Blue Zones 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
dido_me More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading "The Blue Zones". For me it was educational and intriging. It was hard to put down and I looked forward to hopping back into bed and finding out how the Costa Ricans maintained longevity. I have no significant analytical evaluation to provide. I simply enjoyed the reading. I did try the wine that the Sardinians drank, Cannonau was the name. It was not my favorite. It was heavy, rich and dry. It gave me what I call the "shake down", similar to what a dog does when he gets out of the bath to shake off the water but without the intensity. A little was all I could handle. I will however recommend Ecco Domani Chianti wine. It tastes good and goes down light and smooth. It goes well with the reading. Buy the book, you will see!
BoulderQuince More than 1 year ago
After hearing an interview with the author on National Public Radio, I was intrigued enough to go out and buy a copy of The Blue Zones. The book is well written and organized so I was engaged as soon as I started reading. The story of each community and the characters highlighted are fascinating I appreciated the credibility and authenticity of the research collected, over seven years, by a team of scientists and physicians funded by National Geographic. My family happened to be on vacation in Costa Rica when I gave the book to my husband to read. When he was done he announced he was ready to eat a plant based, unrefined diet with fish as an occasional condiment. If you're looking for a way to live a long life, content and disease free, then Blue Zones is good place to start.
Ausonius More than 1 year ago
Barbagia, a part of Northwest Sardinia's Ogliastra district, begets contented, admired 100-year olds as few other places on Earth. There are several speculative reasons why. The landscape is steep and not ultra-productive. What was the obvious profession? Shepherding. "The work was neither stressful nor strenuous, but it did require miles and miles of walking a day. " (p. 60) Today's centenarian shepherds suffer fewer than half the fractures of their age mates in other parts of the island. Application to 21st Century Americans who want to live longer? "Walking five miles a day or more pdrovides the type of low-intensity exercise that yields all the cardiovascular benefits you might expect, but it also has a positive effect on muscles and bones -- without the joint-pounding damage caused by running marathons or triathlons." (p. 60) So, Americans, walk like a Sardinian shepherd. Burn 490 calories per hour. Forget the sheep. Forget any loneliness of the long distance runner. Adapt the ideas you for longevity from Sardinia. These also include drinking two liters (!) a day of Sardinia's famous dry red wine called Cannonau. *** Similar tales of long, happy living are told by author Dan Buettner of rare centenarian rich "blue zones" in Costa Rica, Okinawa and Loma Linda, California (where Seventh-day Adventists cluster around their famous university and health research center). Buettner tells their stories in THE BLUE ZONES: LESSONS FOR LIVING LONGER FROM THE PEOPLE WHO'VE LIVED THE LONGEST (2008). For seven years National Geographic magazine sponsored Buettner and various cameramen and scientific specialists he assembled as they studied latter-day fountains if not of eternal youth, at least of graceful, happy, low-stress aging. *** Some oldsters surveyed drank goat milk, others wine. Some were shepherds. Some were gardeners. Some lived under the same roof or close to four more generations of descendants. Some lived in an Adventist retirement community replete with family-oriented Sabbaths, weights and stationary exercise bikes. All had a zest for living, lived to help others, and not just their great grandchildren. From their widely scattered lives and different life styles, Dan Buettner in THE BLUE ZONES draws nine general cross-cultural conclusions on how to live long, healthy lives. You are urged to pick the easiest ones first and spend seven to 12 weeks forming the new habits that make each one effective. Practices commended range from eating more nuts, drinking a glass or two of red wine daily, and going to church at least once a month, through writing your own personal mission statement, to cutting back on eating meat. *** The book is an easy, fairly convincing read. Its one glaring blunder is absence of maps. The author describes four widely separated areas of the world. He brings their denizens to three-dimensional life through words and black and white photos. He strews informational side bars throughout the book. He devotes a page to "Illustration Credits." Yet he can't make room for four maps! The book is inspirational and will no doubt be followed by more books by Buetner or others discovering, probing and drawing applications from more and more Blue Zones on our globe. Buettner's book is a good first word. I predict, however, that it will soon be eclipsed by others still to come and will not be a permanent addition to many libraries. -OOO-
wilderness_to_city More than 1 year ago
Recently, while attending a conference in San Diego, I had the opportunity to hear Dan Buettner speak regarding his book, Blue Zones. His presentation was inspiring and affirming. When I returned home I ran right out to get the book. Buettner tells a great story about his travels as part of a National Geographic team researching areas around the globe that have in them an unusually high number of people over 100 years of age. Their quest? To see if there are any commonalities between the places visited that could suggest a recipe for living a long, healthy and happy life. Blue Zones has a great narrative quality to it, as well as practical advice for improving quality of life and longevity. Interviews with centenarians, people over 100 years of age, are inspiring to say the least. There is also culture and history to be enjoyed in Blue Zones, as Buettner visits places like Sardinia, Costa Rica, Okinawa and Southern California. It's tough to put it down; but giving oneself time to reflect will make it all the more meaningful and powerful.
Neale on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Its a pity many of the Blue Zones (high life expectancy areas) are disappearing due to the expansion of western ideas - except for the Blue Zone in the US (the Adventists). Many common themes come out of each of the Blue Zones and these are summarised in the 9 factors that lead to a long life. Hard physical work apparently doesn't kill you.You can log onto to take a longevity survey. Funnily enough the site mentions consuming fish which is not one of the 9 findings.Recommended reading.
jepeters333 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Living a healthy life well into your 90's - and possibly your 100's - may be easier than you think. Award-winning author and researcher Dan Buettner has traveled the world to meet the planet's longest-lived people, and learned nine powerful yet simple lessons that could put you on the path to longer life. Where did he find them? In the Blue Zones - Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.
oldmanriver1951 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an enjoyable read. Having traveled around the globe more than few times I was always intrigued how certain races or cultures seemed to have the longevity factor far outpacing the normal lifespan. In 'The Blue Zone' you'll find ways to live as much as a decade longer, thereby leding one to live a longer and fuller lifespan. Inside you'll find habits that can and will develop habits to leading a more productive life!
amandaking on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great philosophy on living life healthier and longer, Dan Buettner's Blue Zone something that everyone concerned about aging in modern society should take a look at. Learn from the places on the Earth where people live the longest how they do it - what makes them tick so long.
realbigcat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book differs from the typical fare of longetivity offerings whereby the author has determined that there are specific areas of the world "Blue Zones" where people are known to live significantly longer than the normal life expectancy of an industrialized nation. The book focused on interviewing these octagenarians in there home and seeing what they had in common that distinguished them from other nations. This unique approach was interesting and pointed out a common them. Many of people lead a very simple life. They grow their own food, have deep family roots, work and stay active all their lives and live more or less stress free. While I found this book interesting, anyone that really wants to benefit from the findings can just read the final chapter that tells how to incorporate the findings into your lifestyle. Ultimately, the final rersults are the basis of which all the thousands of health books have in common. Don't smoke, drink in moderation, eat natural foods and exercise. Follow these rules and you can live longer. Unfortunately for us Americans our lifestyles of fast food and high stress work will never let us achieve our optimum life span. If you are interested in longevivity study then you would probably enjoy this book. If not, just read the last chapter if you have the opportunity.
providencia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I began reading this book thinking that there would be some unified theory based on certain foods. What I found was simple and refreshing. I feel that the researchers were able to come up with a unified theory on best practices. There is certainly an interest in developing awareness around what we put into our bodies. This book gives added perspective of culture, ancestry and environment.
forkyfork on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this as an ER copy, and I found this book pretty neat. There are lots of books on how to ¿expand your youth¿ but it¿s really good to see a book that actually talks to the people who have done so. The book focuses on four distinct and different regions of people who have all lived beyond the average life expectancy (usually 100+). I was glad to see one was in America, even. The book brings to light some hard truths, though. Collectively, as Americans, we are not on our way to being centenarians ourselves with our current lifestyle. Even worse, we are affecting other countries with our bad habits. What I really liked about the book was that it not only told you the behaviors of these people, but how you can apply it to your own life. It really helps put things in perspective. While it¿s not the perfect go-to book for how to live your life, it¿s certainly a great starting point.
ndejong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is well written and reads along at a good pace. I really liked the little side bars that gave useful tips about a particular food that is part of the diet of that particular Blue Zone. I found that I did not have to radically change my diet or routine to be living healthier but improve my health through small adjustments.
lisalouhoo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a very interesting read. I enjoyed hearing the authors experiences of visiting with centenarians. Rather than just plying the readers with data, he did a good job of bringing the individuals and their lifestyles to life. One review of this book that I read gave it a poor rating, as there was no real new or astounding data. I think that was one of the best things about the book. People are always looking for a miracle cure, one magical thing that they can do to live forever. I found it comforting that all of the conclusions they found in studying the people in these Blue Zones are things that we all can do, and things that we pretty much know we should be doing.
Clara53 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved it. Will try to implement some of the things described in the book into my life as much as possible. Some of them I already do - like eating a lot of bitter melon :), and my love of walking...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After having a kidney and tumor removed because of cancer I wanted to change a lot in my life. Blue Zone gave me a blue print on the changes in my life that needed to be made. I loved it, very inspiring.
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I had read all the National Geographic research this originally was in. It is so interesting. I made a book of the Nat.Geo. pages from two different issues and a Time Mag. presentatin. Now it is altogether in one book. Can hardlyh wait to begin reading this book with everything in one volume. Thank you for the prompt filling of my order.
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