Most people have never heard of them, but there are five regions on the planet where longevity rates are much higher. They were dubbed Blue Zones by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic explorer who teamed up with experts over ten years ago to find out why there are so many centenarians there. They visited the zones and came up with nine specific traits that they all share to achieve an extraordinary longevity rate: people reach 100 years old ten times more than in the United States, even though one of the zones is in California.

These are the Blue Zones, as identified and studied following the National Geographic exploration:

  • Loma Linda, California
  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica

Their dietary habits are relevant:

  • They eat mostly a plant-based diet, beans are their number one food. Meat consumption is low, up to five times a month and mostly pork
  • They eat until their stomachs are 80% full (there’s even a pre-meal mantra in Okinawa)
  • The drink wine moderately

There are some lifestyle lessons here:

  • They’re active people, who move naturally all day and usually don’t need to go to the gym to be fit
  • They attend faith related services once a week
  • They practice routines to shed the stress

And also othercharacteristics:

  • They cultivate a sense of purpose
  • The elderly are revered and kept nearby
  • They choose social circles that promote healthy behaviors

Dan’s work has evolved into a program designed to improve longevity rates in America, and they’re now building “Blue Zones” in a number of cities and companies.These findings were inspirational to a lot of doctors, including surgeon Garth Davis, who has recently published the bookProteinaholic – How our obsession with meat is killing us and what we can do about it.

“We can completely eliminate heart disease and nearly eliminate diabetes type II,” Dr. Davis believes, just by changing the way we eat. He advocates for a higher consumption of fruits, grains, beans, and vegetables, while reducing or giving upmeat, eggs, and dairy.

During the presentation of the book, in Los Angeles, he talked about the Blue Zones and made a relevant remark: “there’s no nutrition education whatsoever” in medical schools.

“I found doctors were coming out of medical school and had a layperson’s understanding of nutrition.” So even thoughthings are changing, he thinks it is imperative that science-backed nutrition studies are introduced inmedical schools.

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