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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dan Buettner: How to live to be 100+

Would you like to live a long and happy life? If yes, you may like this engaging TED talk by Dan Buettner How to live to be 100+  (video, 20 min). In the Blue Zones study, National Geographic writer and explorer Dan Buettner and colleagues looked at several groups of people around the world that have unusually long life spans.

They found several factors associated with long life span. Hopefully further research can find which of these factors are in fact causative.
Dan Buettner and colleagues studied people who live in Sardinia, Italy, in Okinawa, Japan, and in Loma Linda, California. The latter group is especially interesting because they are Seventh Day Adventists and have diverse genetic backgrounds, which means that longevity of this group cannot be explained by hereditary factors. The following factors are common between all groups.
The old people in all groups are moderately physically active. The activity is usually not workouts in a gym (whew!), but something more natural, where people would be nudged into physical activity, such as nature walks on the Sabbath day (Loma Linda), getting up and down from the floor (Okinawa), and physical work (Sardinia).
The centenarians have a well developed sense of purpose in life.
All groups have habits that serve to reduce stress, such as daily prayer (Loma Linda), daily ancestor meditation (Okinawa), daytime naps (Sardinia). Interestingly, the Adventists in Loma Linda observe the Sabbath day, a 24 hour sanctuary in time during which they do not work.
The centenarians have all kinds of little strategies to help them stop eating before they are 100% full. They use small portion sizes, the food is served at the counter rather than at the table, so people must get up to get more food, etc.
Their diet contains less meat, but more plants, including beans and nuts, than a typical Western diet. It usually includes 1-2 drinks a day.
Centenarians typically belong to faith based communities.
In all groups, older people stay close to their families, and older and younger family members live together or nearby. Old people are celebrated for their age.
All groups have a high degree of social cohesion, usually with lifetime groups of friends that are as close as relatives. The groups of friends are part of the established social system. This social network also serves to reinforce through example or social norms many of the positive life habits.
You can find more details in Dan Buettner's book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting.
    "Add more years to your life - and life to your years."