Aging Successfully: The Blue Zone

A modern-day explorer named Dan Buettner met with National Geographic, the National Institute on Aging and other longevity experts.

Along with two colleagues, Buettner set out to identify locations around the world where people lived the longest and the healthiest. This team discovered five locations where the majority of the population lived to be centenarians with less chronic disease than the rest of the world. These five areas were given the name the Blue Zone.

When I first learned about the Blue Zone I assumed the name came from the fact that these five locations are close to the Pacific Rim, where the there is more sunlight and more blue sky.

However, the name came from the fact of how when Buettner and his colleagues discovered a location which met their criteria they would circle that area in blue.

The five locations identified by these men for health and longevity are:

• Icaria, Greece;

• Ogliastra, Sardinia, Italy;

• Okinawa, Japan;

• Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and,

• Loma Linda, California, specifically the Seventh-day Adventist community.

While these are the only cultures discussed by the Buettner team, there may be other pocket areas in the world with a large centenarian population who experience minimal chronic disease.

Interestingly enough, Ogliastra in Sardinia, Italy, has the largest population of centenarian males and Okinawa, in Japan, has the largest population of centenarian females.

Here is a list of the 10 main factors these longevity communities have in common, and it includes more than simply diet and exercise.

1. Their diets are predominately plant-based with only 5-25 percent of their diet being animal-based foods. The meat dishes are reserved for special occasions. This means 75-95 percent of their meals are plant-based.

2. Everyone practices reduced-calorie-consumption, mainly by doing some form of fasting on a regular basis

3. A moderate consumption of red wine is a regular part of meals.

4. Physical exercise is built into their daily lives, and includes activities such as walking to various locations and climbing stairs.

5. Sufficient sleep is a natural part of these cultures. This includes an average of seven hours of sleep a night, and light napping.

6. Most everyone has a purpose in life, a reason for living.

7. Each of these five cultures has strong family ties.

8. These populations have strong social networks.

9. All of these cultures appear to have limited stress factors.

10. Most all practice some form of religion.

It was obvious to me in doing my research that these cultures did not consume processed foods or refined sugars, even though no one stated this fact outright.

Buettner lives in the United States where he and his family practice Blue Zone living. He has written several book on the subject and created a Blue Zone website. In addition he has developed a Blue Zone Project to prompt longevity and healthy living throughout the world.

As encouraging as the Blue Zone findings are, Buettner and his “teachings” have received severe criticism. Many records were destroyed during World War II and there is no documentation that some of these centenarians are truly this old. Also, some experts say that Buettner’s findings were based on simple observation and not on solid, scientifically controlled research.

Email us ( with your thoughts regarding longevity and the Blue Zone. I personally reply to every email.

Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award-winning poet. When not writing, or teaching workshops, she enjoys reading a good mystery, hiking, and sailing with friends and family. See