According to Wikipedia, Blue Zones represent “a concept used to identify a demographic and/or geographic area of the world where people live measurably longer lives. The concept grew out of demographic work done by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, who identified Sardinia’s Nuoro province as the region with the highest concentration of male centenarians.”
Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest”, identified five regions where this phenomenon is true. They are: Sadinia’s Nuoro province, the islands of Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica and Icaria in Greece.
The people who live in these Blue Zones share common lifestyle characteristics that seem to have a positive impact on longevity. Those characteristics include:
- Making family a priority and putting family ahead of other life concerns
- Not smoking as much as other populations
- Eating a vegetarian (or semi-vegetarian) diet including a higher consumption of legumes.
- Being more physically active (these folks are not couch potatoes).
- Having a higher degree of social engagement. In these regions, people are not isolated and they are integrated into their communities.
In addition, people who live in Blue Zones seem to have a greater sense of purpose. They have a reason for getting up in the morning. In Okinawa, this concept is called “ikigai”, which has to do with knowing one’s self, including expectations and hopes. It’s the self-confidence that comes from doing what you love, knowing what your passions are, what your mission in life is, how you are going to make a contribution to the world. It has very little to do with one’s economic status in life but rather comes from a mental or spiritual place.
As a child during the Holocaust, staying alive against great odds was one of my greatest challenges. As a result, I learned to stare into the face of death with defiance. That approach led me to celebrate life with a passion and zest for knowledge. My quest introduced me to the Blue Zone principles, which I have been following for more than 40 years. I’ve made a conscious effort to take care of my mind through lifelong learning, honor my body through regular exercise and vegetarian diet and participate in Tikun Olam (repairing the world through inspirational speaking and community involvement). In this way, I have every intention of experiencing the longevity goals of Blue Zone individuals and achieving super-centennial status. AMEN.