Want to Live to 100? Follow These 7 Tips from a Top Longevity Expert
The Blue Zone Diet creator Dan Buettner reveals the changes that will add years to your life.
In a world where the pursuit of a longer, healthier life has become a universal aspiration, Dan Buettner emerges as a beacon of wisdom and insight. For over 15 years, Buettner has delved into the secrets of the world's longest-living communities, uncovering the keys to their extraordinary longevity and happiness. Now, his groundbreaking research takes center stage in the Netflix documentary Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones, captivating the attention of those in search of the elixir of life. According to Buettner, you can increase your odds of living longer by following just seven tips. Here's everything you need to know.
Who is Dan Buettner?
Dan Buettner is not your typical health guru. He's an author, journalist, and National Geographic Fellow with a mission: to unearth the lifestyles and habits of societies where centenarians are not an exception but a norm. His quest to unravel the mysteries of longevity has led him to the most remarkable corners of the globe, earning him a reputation as one of the top longevity experts.
The term "Blue Zones" might sound like a concept from a science fiction novel, but it's very much rooted in reality. These are regions around the world where a significant number of individuals not only live to be 100 years or older but also enjoy robust health and an unparalleled sense of well-being.
Buettner has identified five of these enigmatic areas, each holding the keys to a prolonged and vibrant existence:
Okinawa, Japan: This Japanese archipelago is renowned for its high concentration of centenarians and a culture that values healthy eating and a strong sense of community.
Sardinia, Italy: Nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean, Sardinia boasts a remarkable number of centenarians thanks to their traditional diet rich in plant-based foods and an active lifestyle.
Loma Linda, Calif., U.S.: Surprisingly, one of the Blue Zones is right here in the United States. Loma Linda, California, is home to a community of Seventh-day Adventists who emphasize vegetarianism and a strong social network as key factors in their longevity.
Ikaria, Greece: The Greek island of Ikaria holds the secret to a long and healthy life, with its residents embracing a Mediterranean diet, daily naps, and a relaxed approach to time.
Nicoya, Costa Rica: In this Central American gem, the inhabitants rely on nutrient-rich diets, strong family bonds, and an unwavering sense of purpose to achieve remarkable longevity.
People in the Blue Zones are achieving an extra ten years without disease, and it costs them nothing. Their journey to a healthy age 100 is joyous," he continued. "In fact, there's about an 80% overlap where what drives longevity also drives happiness," he added. According to Buettner's research, there are four key practices that these communities share. These practices can help anyone who wants to live a longer and more fulfilling life. Keep reading to learn these life-changing principles and find out how you can incorporate them into your own journey towards living to 100 and beyond.
Buettner maintains that the traditional diets in all five Blue Zones are 90 to 98% whole-food, plant-based. They only eat 10 to11 pounds of meat per year – compared to 220 pounds for the average American – and fish three times a week. Instead, they focus on whole grains, corn, rice, greens, tubers like potatoes and yams, beans, and nuts as snacks and eat about a cup of beans a day. "They know how to make them taste delicious," Buettner says.
He also maintains that they drink an average of six glasses of water a day, plus herbal, green and black tea, coffee and a little bit of wine. "Well over 80% of people making it into their 90s and 100s who are still healthy drink every day of their lives. So, I know a little bit of healthy alcohol consumption is not mutually exclusive with living a long time and staying sharp until the end," Buettner says.
"Sleep is very important," Buettner says. If you aren't getting enough sleep, turn the thermostat down to about 68 degrees, cover your windows with dark curtains or shades to block out light, and take the electronics out of your bedroom.
Buettner points to a study that found that people who have a sense of purpose live longer than people who are rudderless in life. If you're not sure what your purpose is, find it by writing down your values, passions and what you love to do. "Look for the trends and then make sure there's an outlet for them," Buettner says.
"It could be at your church, it could be with your family, it could be with volunteering," Buettner says. "But when you have a sense of purpose you're more likely to get out and move every day. You're more likely to find friends and be a good friend. You're more likely to eat healthy. It's far more powerful than we think."
"I'm not talking about going to run marathons or doing CrossFit," Buettner says. For example, people who live in the Blue Zones move every 20 minutes or so, doing things like walking or gardening. He suggests walking or biking to work, sitting on the floor and getting up to build body strength, and other activities that don't make you think you are exercising.
"When it comes to longevity, there's no short-term fix. Friends are long-term adventures. Surround yourself with the right ones and you have a good chance of making it to 100," Buettner says. "Making those friends is going to do more to make you healthy than any biohack or anti-aging nostrum."
According to statistics, less than one percent of people will make it to the triple digits. The good news? "Only about 20% of how long you live is dictated by your genes. The other 80% is something else, and a lot of what produces healthy longevity surprises people," Buettner told TODAY.com.