Dan Buettner must be very used to being called “young man” by now– despite being nearly 50 years old and quite well-accomplished, he’s been researching the communities with the oldest citizens in the world, and has begun to unlock the secrets to a long and full life.
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So what is it, exactly, that makes people in some parts of the world (Buettner calls them “blue zones”) live so long?
There are five things he has found as a common thread from Japan to Costa Rica to Loma Linda, California.
5. A Sense of Faith
Loma Linda, California, boasts the highest concentration of Seventh-Day Adventists in the world, and the average Adventist man lives 11 years longer than the average American man. This is also a factor in Sardinia, where a large Catholic population fuels one of the “Blue Zones” and lives far longer than the average Italian.
4. A Sense of Purpose
Japan possesses an overwhelming sense of purpose, Buettner reports, and the concept has a name: ikigai. Loosely translated, it means “that which makes one’s life most worth living.” It strikes him then, as no coincidence that Okinawa has the longest disease-free life expectancies in the world.
3. Low-Intensity Activity
Low-intensity activity does a phenomenal job of keeping the body in working order without placing too much stress on an aging system: getting out an walking, or enjoying some form or recreation also contributes to a sense of independence that allows the mindset needed for the other points to flourish.
2. An Investment in Family
Family, like the previous item, helps develop support structures, as well as an essential mindset of caring; Buettner simply states that he’s never met a mean centenarian.
1. A Plant-based Diet
Finally, yes, there is one essential oddity– a diet that’s drastically different from that of most Americans.
Consistently, Buettner reports people eating small portions and not much meat in their diets. This accounts for the widespread success outside of the United States, especially in places like Italy, Japan, and Costa Rica, where culture has embraced a different style of cooking.
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