How to Live a Longer Life

by Farzana Rahman

Some of the most interesting research on longevity has been done by Dan Buettner. He looked at the five places in the world where people lived longest and were the healthiest.  Although these places are spread out around the world, he found commonalities and wrote about these in his best-selling book ‘The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest.’


The Blue Zones

Dan Buettner discovered that the five healthiest places in the world where people lived the longest were:

·       Okinawa, Japan

·       Sardinia, Italy

·       Nicoya, Costa Rica

·       Ikaria, Greece

·       Loma Linda, California

The team had already theorized that most of the answers would lie in lifestyle and environment. They had already seen the research such as The Danish Twin Study, which established that only about 20% of how long the average person lives is determined by genes.

Working with National Geographic researchers, he studied these populations to understand what they did. He worked with a team of demographers to find pockets of people around the world with the highest life expectancy, or with the highest proportions of people who reach age 100. These are called the ‘Power 9®’, here’s a summary of what he found. ( You can also find more information here. )  


Tips to Help You Live Longer

1. Move Naturally

The world’s longest-lived live in environments where movement is part of life. They don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Gardening and walking are common activities. 

2. Purpose

All of the people in these areas were strongly connected with a sense of purpose. The idea of connecting with a higher purpose that gave meaning to their lives.

3. Down Shift

Each of these cultures had mechanisms used to deal with stress. From prayer to napping, each culture recognized the problem of stress and had a way to counter its effects.

4. 80% Rule

This refers to eating until one feels 80 percent full.  Peoplel in these areas ate their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and didn’t eat more the rest of the day.

5. Plant Slant

Most of these cultures had a predominantly plant based diet. It wasn’t that they were all vegetarian or vegan, but that the cornerstone of their diets were based on foods like beans, soy and lentils. Meat was on average eaten only five times per month. 

6. A little Bit of Wine

Recent evidence has demonstrated that all alcohol consumption is harmful but most of the people in these areas drank alcohol moderately and regularly. 

7. Belong

Most of these people belonged to a faith-based community.  It didn’t matter what that group was, it was the act of belonging. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy.

8. Loved Ones First

There was a strong emphasis on putting families first. Multi-generational families were common as were long-term relationships and a strong family unit.

9. Right Tribe

Most of these people were born into social circles that supported healthy behaviours. Research has shown that working towards a goal in a group setting is much more effective than going at something alone.