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Secrets of People Living Healthy at 100

Updated on August 9, 2010

Dan Buettner and Nicoya Centenarian

What and Where are Blue Zones

There's been a lot of buzz about a book titled The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest .

I got a chance to read this book because I was already familiar with an article the author, Dan Buettner, had written in a November 2005 edition of the National Geographic magazine. His research was based on various geographic locations where the highest population of people lived to be 100 years old (centenarians) or older, and in addition, lived vigorous productive lives.

The blue zones are located in:

1. Nicoya, Costa Rica

2. Loma Linda, California

3. Sardinia, Italy

4. Okinawa, Japan

Active at 107

Red Wine & Plant-based Emals


Blue Zone Secrets

There were several factors compiled from these blue zone areas that contributed to having the highest population of centenarians. The healthy factors listed below come naturally, like habits, for these centenarians. What's great about these helpful suggestions for a longer life is they are not a diet or a fad- they are convincing evidence for a healthy lifestyle at a ripe old age. These blue zones have some common principles that you can recreate in your own life:

1. Stop eating before you are full- It's called the 80% rule in Buettner's book (eat until you are 80% full). Take time to eat your meals for your fullness to register and stop eating for at least 20 minutes before going back for seconds.

2. Plant-based diet. This is nothing too surprising- eat more veggies, less protein and processed foods. Protein takes days for your system to effectively digest. Whey protein powder or complex proteins like beans and nuts are the healthiest choice- and have fiber (even more benefit). Processed foods are unquestionably, and obviously, linked to obesity. The folks residing in blue zone areas eat no processed foods.

3. Red Wine/ Alcohol- I didn't know this before reading the book, but alcohol in other forms besides wine is just as beneficial- According to the book, alcohol is 90% of the benefit, the resveratrol in red wine is the other 10% benefit. Alcohol in moderation (one or two servings a day) is deemed ok and beneficial for ones health. Of course there are some factors and health issues where regular alcohol consumption is not ok- check with your doc).

4. Have a clear purpose for your life. Something interesting in the book was most of the blue zone areas did not have a word for retirement. Many of the centenarians were still working, though not stressed, but still productive. If you do look forward to retirement, have a plan and a purpose for life after work.

5. Belief in a higher power- Spiritual and religious participation. This also coincides with a healthy social network, those that have like-minded support for your lifestyle.

6. Rest when needed and never overdo yourself at work- take vacations often. Wouldn't this be nice, but honestly if you make it a priority then it can be accomplished.

7. Active Lifestyle-Don't use a remote for every gadget you own, use the stairs, chop veggies instead of buying pre-packaged. Realistically, the average American does not enage in the everyday exercise reccommended. Incorporating movement into your life in other ways can help fulfill the benefit of exercise.

8. Make family a priority- Family is your own personal community. Americans tend to not live in mulit-family households, but most of the centenarian communities do. They all have a purpose in the family dynamic.

A Closer Look at Blue Zone Lifestyles

In Okinawa, Japan they regularly practice calorie reduction and live by the rule of eating until 80% full. They are also very involved in their community and family life. They believe it is crucial to de-stress and have a purpose in life. Those in Nacoya, Costa Rica are also very involved in their family and eat a variety of plant-based foods while getting an impressive amount of exercise naturally every day. They eat a large breakfast and eat small portions later in the day as well as go for walks often and tend to their land and crops. In Sardinia, Italy they indulge in red wine (Sardinian Wine) with their breakfast, and snack on dark chocolate, and whole grain bread with cheeses containing a significant amount of Omega fats. They too have a plant-based diet rich in tomatoes (lycopene) especially. In Loma Linda, California resides the highest population of Seventh Day Adventists. They are very involved in their community and dedicate one full day a week (Friday pm to Saturday pm) to spending time with their family and doing relaxing activities. They also eat a lot of nuts and beans and no packaged foods or caffeine.


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    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks money glitch

      raymondho~ yeah I found that interesting that gyms aren't popular in the healthiest countries. Americans have constant access to gyms and many exercise but still overweight and unhealthy. Food and lifestyle is key!

    • Raymondho profile image


      11 years ago

      Nice Hub! I'm sure we all could be Blue Zones if we tried since there is no mention of magic (haha), just commons sense really. I like how there is no mention of structured exercise so I guess all the gym's in world wouldn't like it. I guess their daily activities was enough.

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 

      11 years ago from Texas

      Hi Izetti, While doing research on the blue zones diet for this week's healthy diets contest, I discovered your hub. This is a great hub and I provided a link to your hub on mine in order for readers to learn more about the blue zones. Thanks for sharing your insight! :)

    • Lgali profile image


      12 years ago

      nice hub

    • profile image

      Alek Novi 

      12 years ago

      Thanks izettl, I already knew about this research (it was presented on some docummentary online), but they never mentioned the book. Now I am thinking about getting the book too. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from The Great Northwest

      You are right on Mark- moderation. Don't over-eat and don't over-work would be a great slogan for the fight against obesity in America. I think those are chronic problems many Americans have. THanks for the comment!

    • Mark Pearson profile image

      Mark Pearson 

      12 years ago from UK

      Excellent points made. I like number 6 best :)

      But I guess one of the messages is "everything is moderation and a little of what you like."

      Don't over-eat, don't over-work, enjoy life.

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 

      12 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      I agree. Being healthy doesn't almost mean being skinny. And for some, being skinny is unhealthy.

      The media, and the way-too-abundant fast food joints, have a lot of guilt to shoulder in America's current state of poor health, eating disorders and obesity.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      constant walker~ the oprah doc sait it best, but with anything simple, we make it complicated or want to find the quick fix. I think books about living healthy are great and the more people we can get to reitterate healthy habits and longevity, the better. Even though some of us know and practice these common principles, it is a better focus than on being skinny by any means, which is a huge chunk of media's focus. I'd rather hear about being healthy than skinny any day.

      RGraf~ That is a great story- congrats to your long lived great grandmother, but also sorry for your recent loss. I think you picked up on something about attitude. So many people concentrate on food and exercise, but honestly I think attitude is the most profound. The way your gg overcame challenges is something I'm sure we could all learn from- you were blessed to know her. I grew up on a reservation so I know what you mean there- but a strong sense of community on a res.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      12 years ago from Wisconsin

      My husband's great-grandmother just passed away a few weeks before turning 106. She was in great health considering her age. At age 100 she had a hip replacement and was able to use a walker very well from that time on. Family was important to her, but her faith was more so. She prayed for hours a day (as she said what else could she do since her eye sight and hearing were fading so). She prayed for anyone she ever met.

      She was also a strong woman who refused to let challenges get in her way and who survived 2 depressions, 2 world wars, the death of 2 children (all in their 70's and 80's), the death of a grand-child, becoming a widow 30 odd years before her own death, and growing up on an Indian reservation, and other challenges life puts before you.

      She was an inspiration to us all. On her 100th birthday which was filmed by the local news, she blew out her candles and wished that we all could live as long as her. As we all cried out, "Grandma, we thought you loved us!" She just smiled.

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 

      12 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Probably not... I've already found it!

      One of the few times I caught an Oprah show, it was about fad diets (anything new there?) and she had a dietician on. He summed it up in the best way I've heard yet: "Eat less, move more." Of course, it would be easy to elaborate on that, like eat with common sense, enjoy chocolate if that's what you enjoy - just don't live on it, find a work-out routine that you like and stick with it... forever!, etc, etc.

      You know!

      But basicly, the doctor on Oprah said it best, didn't he?

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Great article, i'm going to grab the book now :)

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Well I guess I can't sell you the fountain of youth, but thanks for stopping by. Balance is the way to go and common sense, well some people need the secret for that too.

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 

      12 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Good hub! Enjoyed it! For me, the "secret" has always been: There are no secrets. Just Balance and Common Sense.


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