Longevity and happiness? – Blue Zones

Is there a relationship between longevity and happiness?

Blue Zones? Five places around the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives.

• Today.com > “5 tips for living to 100 from a top longevity researcher” by Stephanie Thurrott (Sept 8, 2023) – Dan Buettner, who has been studying people who live the longest for 20 years, shares their secrets.

  • Eat a whole-food, plant-based diet.
  • Try to get eight hours of sleep a day.
  • Know and be able to articulate your sense of purpose.
  • Move naturally all day long.
  • Curate four or five friends who have healthy habits.

Don’t assume you’ll find your purpose at work. That’s only true for fewer than 30% of Americans. “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.”

More in the news cycle about Blue Zones, where people “are living longer without intentionally setting out to do so.”

Including Okinawa, “Ikaria, an island off the coast of Greece in the Aegean Sea, and the mountain villages of Sardinia, off the coast of Italy.”

Is seaweed in your diet? Beans? Herbs? How can our urban diets incorporate an “eat-from-the-land” tone?

• NPR > “7 habits to live a healthier life, inspired by the world’s longest-lived communities” by Allison Aubrey (September 9, 2023) – Dan Buettner’s new Netflix documentary, Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones, is trending as a top streaming pick.

  • Trade the La-Z-Boy for a mat and a garden
  • Ditch DoorDash and eat like a peasant
  • Reduce meat and aim for a plant-forward approach
  • Give loneliness the boot — become a joiner
  • Revamp social media to cultivate friends and a sense of purpose
  • In lieu of an afternoon espresso, take a nap
  • Trade big-city rents for an affordable home (and maybe keep your parent nearby)

Buettner acknowledges that the original blue zones are fading. The isolation of many of these communities has helped preserve the traditional way of life, but urbanization and the global economy are pushing people to more modern lifestyles.

Local references

• SoCal > South Bay > Beach Cities > BCHD > About Blue Zones Project

What if generations of people could live longer, healthier, happier lives? What if it wasn’t so hard to do because their surroundings made it easy? Leveraging secrets discovered in Blue Zones® around the world — rare longevity hotspots — Blue Zones Project is helping transform communities across the U.S. into areas where the healthy choice is easy and people live longer with a higher quality of life.

5 comments on “Longevity and happiness? – Blue Zones

  1. Fountain of youth

    Lifespan vs. healthspan? Cultural worth vs. meaning?

    Are Hollywood and media celebrities good role models for aging? Or those who see themselves as “special people who ought to live a long time?”

    At my health club, what I mostly see are other seniors exercising in various ways to stay active (rather than sedentary). Moving all the joints. Stretching. Maintaining upper and lower body fitness. Putting in the time, not trying to buy health.

    Wellness is being able to play tennis, pickleball, golf, or to swim. Or doing all the chores at home. Or even just walking without pain.

    And pain – from injuries or chronic wear & tear – sometimes results in surgeries and PT (physical therapy). And decisions for shoulder, hip, knee replacements.

    So, generally, what I see and hear about is quite routine, sensible. Accommodating the same old, same old aches & pains. Extending activity, not turning back the clock. Nothing’s guaranteed. There’s no fountain of youth, eh.

    This article is about a buzzy pursuit of wellness: expensive supplements or biohacking, longevity coaches or anti-aging programs. Longevity, Inc. selling the hope of a longer life.

    • Washington Post > “‘Aging is a disease’: Inside the drive to postpone death indefinitely” by Karen Heller (November 6, 2023) – Compared with our ancestors and other species, many of us will enjoy a wealth of years. Is it greedy to strive for more?

    [In the United States] More than 10,000 people turn 65 every day.

    The wellness industry tends to cater to clients who can pay strangers to help them feel better about themselves.

    “I think that the wealthier we become and the more unhappy we are, the more we have to search for meaning in this life,” said [Peter] Attia, 50, a physician and the co-author of the chart-topping “Outlive: The Science & Art of Longevity.”

    There’s a fervent desire to reverse decades of bad habits. “People are gaining back the years that they lost through unhealthy lifestyles,” Olshansky [S. Jay Olshansky, 69, an authority on aging at the University of Illinois at Chicago] said. “We’ve been really good at shortening our lives. We’re masters at it.”

  2. Movement in just everyday life

    People in blue zones, they’re not thinking about their diet or an exercise program. They’re not doing anything except living their lives.” – Dan Buettner

    Here’s an interview on “habits that promote health and longevity.” For example, how to make simple foods taste delicious. And “weaving activity and movement into just everyday life.”

    • NPR > “Inspired by ‘blue zones’ – 7 daily habits to live a longer, healthier life” by Allison Aubrey (January 1, 2024)

    ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: You know, we are always hoping there’s something magical on the horizon, some superfood, some kind of new exercise trend that is going to catapult us to great health, right?

    But the reality is much less sensational.

    I’d say increasingly, a lot of the science points to six or seven key habits. And these are things people have heard about before:

    • It’s what we eat,
    • how we move,
    • how much we sleep,
    • having strong social connections
    • and purpose.

    When you put all these together, they are a powerful combination. Whether you’re thinking about preventing heart disease, dementia, diabetes and, to some extent even depression, these habits really can make a difference.

    AUBREY: One of the most counterintuitive things about the men and women who thrive into their 90s and beyond is that they’re not really trying to be healthy.

    AUBREY: When it comes to exercise, they don’t go to the gym. They build movement into their daily lives, take their gardens. Food isn’t just a source of nourishment. The act of gardening keeps them bending and squatting and using their muscles.


    Moais (social support groups)

  3. Healthful blueberries

    It’s the berries! – a good promo for blueberries, eh.

    • CNBC > make it > “The ‘holy grail’ of longevity foods this doctor eats every day – it protects you ‘like a suit of armor’” by Dr. Neil Paulvin, Contributor [a longevity and regenerative medicine doctor] (Jan 14, 2024) – Blueberries … are tasty, low in calories, and filled with vitamins and antioxidants that protect your body from infection …

    • Blueberries are very high in antioxidants called anthocyanins, which is what makes them blue [cf. scientific evidence concerning the possible health benefits].
    • Blueberries contains 16% of the daily value of vitamin C, which is known to boost eye health.
    • Research is ongoing, but blueberries have been found to reduce muscle damage and soreness [cf. whether a noticeable reduction].
    • Blueberries could affect areas of your brain that are crucial for intelligence.
    • Research has shown that the fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in blueberries can help reduce inflammation.
    • Blueberries are high in soluble fiber.
  4. Epigenetic clock

    Lifespan and health-span. What kinds of interventions slow the rate of aging? Or future biotech to slow our “epigenetic clock.”

    Longevity research provides the usual guidelines for aging well. The dos and don’ts. Stress. Then there’s DNA methylation and mouse studies. And the equity of any breakthroughs.

    There’s even a $101 million X-PRIZE global competition focused on treatments that support healthy longevity.

    • XPRIZE.org > “XPRIZE Launches Largest Competition in History – $101M Xprize Healthspan to Drive Healthier Aging for All” (Nov 29, 2023) [Includes YouTube video]

    XPRIZE Healthspan is the first health-focused competition of its kind, incentivizing competing teams to develop a single or combination of therapeutic treatments that will restore muscle, brain, and immune function lost to age-related degradation by at least 10 years, with a goal of 20 years. Teams will be required to deliver their therapy in 1-year or less in adults aged 65-80 years who are free of major or life-threatening disease and disability. Effectively tackling this challenge will require global collaboration with cross-disciplinary researchers, clinicians, industry leaders, policymakers, trade organizations, and nonprofits to make the outcomes possible and accessible to broader populations.

    • NPR > HOW TO THRIVE AS YOU AGE > “Scientists can tell how fast you’re aging. Now, the trick is to slow it down” by Allison Aubrey (January 29, 2024) – Researchers at the Human Longevity Lab at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine hope to find affordable, evidence-based interventions that can benefit everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.

    Of all the tests they performed [blood, body metrics, smell, cognition, cardiovascular], the most intriguing is the GrimAge test. This test predicts biological age. It’s gauging whether your DNA age is younger, or older, than your actual age, known as chronological age. Conjure images of the Grim Reaper? Yep, that’s the idea: The test can estimate how quickly, or slowly, you’re aging.

    “I don’t know exactly what that’s going to be. It might be a drug. It might be a lifestyle intervention, for all I know it might be gene editing,” Vaughan [Douglas Vaughan, director of the Longevity Institute] says. “But there are going to be ways that we are going to slow down this process and give people a longer health span.”

    Vaughan and his collaborators are enrolling people from a wide range of ages, ethnic groups, neighborhoods and socioeconomic status to see what works to slow biological aging for everybody.

  5. Honey vs worker bee lifespan

    Looks like “diet, exercise, and sleep are the best interventions for longevity.”

    At the molecular level: chemical damage … protein synthesis … cell damage (senescent cells) … inflammation … tissue damage … organs …

    At the policy level: other priorities … age-related diseases … the inequality thing …

    Epigenetics (honey bees vs. worker bees) …

    Stem cells … transcription factors … “younger” states going awry …

    • Wired > “The Keys to a Long Life Are Sleep and a Better Diet – and Money” by Matt Reynolds (Mar 18, 2024) – Nobel Prize–winning biologist Venki Ramakrishnan explores the science and charlatans of life-extension.

    In his new book, Why We Die, Nobel Prize–winning biologist Venki Ramakrishnan breaks down the biology of aging to examine what potential humankind really has for life extension.

    This [the a huge amount of private money going into aging] is creating a lot of very good work, but it’s also creating a lot of bad stuff. Shoddy or dubious work or even dubious promotion of things. There’s an excessive hype in the field.

Comments are closed.