The Blue Zones is one of the most interesting longevity studies performed on a global scale. Author, and National Geographic contributor Dan Buettner set out to discover why certain areas of the world had an unusually large number of centenarians (people aged over 100). What was it about these locations that caused people to live longer lives, and what can we learn from that and apply to our own lifestyles? Dan and his team identified 5 specific regions that demonstrated exceptional longevity among the population:
With such an impressive display of longevity, they must be doing something right, so what is it? Of the nine primary factors that were identified, a few of them are particularly significant:
These are great and powerful observations, but what can we take away from these lessons that we can use to promote health and wellness in our everyday lives, and in our current environment? Fortunately, we can map these discoveries into a few fundamental lifestyle choices:
The gist of The Blue Zones study has been condensed to a few key points here. It’s important to remember that thousands upon thousands of individual factors go into the longevity of each and every person. We all should drill down to better understand all of the factors that may be influencing the peoples discussed in The Blue Zones. Maximizing our life expectancies is the main goal of the study and there are many points beyond the four mentioned here that must be considered in the lifestyle and diet choices we make every day.
Longevity experts are divided on the use of nutritional supplements. On one hand, there is the valid argument that you should get all your nutrients naturally from the food you eat – just as our ancestors did. However, there is the equally persuasive argument that our food supply is irreparably changed from those historical times – it is less nutritionally-dense, tainted by GMOs, antibiotics, and overly processed – and therefore supplements are a way of compensating for the lost nutritional value in our food.
One thing is for sure, many of the identified regions in the Blue Zones study are geographically remote, and therefore have a diet that is closer to the natural “normal”, so while you can say that the world’s longest living people do not take nutritional supplements, they certainly do have a head start in the nature of their whole-food diet. In addition, multiple studies have shown that remote tribal groups have a higher level of bacterial diversity in their microbiomes than Westernized cultures.
This supports the idea of supplementing a Western diet with beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, to help compensate for the drop in diversity and lower nutritional value found in Westernized societies.
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