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Today, we have more scientists, doctors, and nurses. There are also larger investments in healthcare and wellness, more experimental treatments, and more research papers than ever.

And yet our world remains riddled with disease and health conditions.

Consider that in 2020, approximately 6,100 people died as a result of a stroke, larger than 2019’s death toll. The incidence of cancer has also increased by nearly 80% in 3 decades among people in their 50s. Meanwhile, obesity has nearly tripled on a global scale since 1975.

Where do we go from here?

Despite these troubling numbers, residents in areas called blue zones are defying the odds by living longer and better. The term coined by Dan Buettner refers to places in the world where people are living well into their 90s and past the age of 100.

They’re certainly doing something right. So, what can we learn from their lifestyles?

5 Blue Zones


Located off the coast of Italy, Sardinians maintain an active lifestyle walking an average of 5 miles per day. The Sardinian diet is high in fruits and vegetables with meat reserved for special occasions.


Okinawa, islands located in the south pacific attribute health and longevity to their tradition of forming Moai – secure social networks. As children, Okinawans are placed in a Moai where they receive financial and emotional support while also giving members the security of knowing someone is always there to lend a helping hand. Okinawans also maintain a practice of eating to 80% full known as Hara Machi Bu.  Oh, and contrary to popular belief, they eat meat. Primarily pork.

Loma Linda

Loma Linda is an Adventist community in California and is the only US based blue zone. Due to religious beliefs, members of this community maintain a vegan diet.


Nikoya, located in Costa Rica, spend 20% less than Americans aon healthcare and credit their longevity to a strong commitment to faith and family. People of this community eat a diet rich in tropical fruits and little to no processed foods.


Ikarians can be found on a tiny Aegean island and have an average lifespan 8 years longer and 20% lower rate of cancer as compared to Americans. This community eats a diet consistent with the Mediterranean Diet. But the most salient lifestyle habit is a midafternoon break.

As you can see, there are some differences in lifestyle amongst the oldest living communities in the world. However, there are also many similarities that might shed some light as to why they are living longer, happier, healthier lives.

9 Habits From Blue Zone Communities That We Can Adopt

A large, uncensored Danish twin study found that genes only determine around 20% of how an average person lives. The remaining 80% is influenced by a person’s lifestyle and environment.

Here are some habits that were common among blue zone residents.

1. Have Faith

Research has shown that attending faith-based services just 4 times a month can extend your life expectancy by 4 to 14 years. And it doesn’t matter which denomination you belong to! The idea is that faith provides a sense of purpose and shapes who we are. Plus, you have a reduced dependency on addictive substances which can prolong your life.

2. Embrace an Active Lifestyle

Exercise is an important factor in the blue zone. But these folks rarely hit the gym! Instead, they get their workout unintentionally through everyday activities.

For example, they walk a lot, which can lower your risk of all-cause mortality and CV mortality. In addition, they walk up and down the stairs instead of taking the lift which has been found to bring substantial improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness. You can also dance your way to longevity.

3. Have a Sense of Purpose

Knowing what you live for can protect you against early mortality. This is backed by various studies, including a 2019 open study, which showed that participants with a  life purpose were less likely to die and enjoy lower risks of death from heart, circulatory, and blood conditions.

So, use your gifts for the betterment of others, and you’ll be rewarded for it!

4. Find Ways To Reduce Stress

Stress is a part and parcel of everyone’s life even those living in the blue zones.

While not all stress is bad, some can manifest in your physical health through heightened inflammation. It may not sound that bad, but 3 out of 5 people die from chronic inflammatory diseases, so you should find ways to tackle it.

Blue zone communities incorporate stress-busting habits like eating with their families, praying to their ancestors, and doing activities like meditation and yoga. They also spend time outdoors which is known for increasing life expectancy by enhancing physical health and mental wellness. They also get good sleep as a bonus.

5. Follow the 80% Rule

There’s a phrase in Okinawa, Japan, called “hara hachi bu.” It translates to “eat until you are eight parts full”—a Confucian-inspired adage that has the average person eating only about 1,900 calories a day. So, if you want to live an extraordinarily long and healthy life, practice mindful eating and don’t overeat.

6. Nurture Social Connections

Humans are social animals so strong social ties play an integral role in our overall well-being. But to what extent? A meta-analytic review of 148 studies has indicated a 50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with strong social relationships.

Make it a point to establish a tight-knit social network. This will enhance your mental well-being and give you a greater sense of fulfillment.

7. Put Family First

A study indicated that elderly people who felt that their roles in their children’s lives were important had a lower mortality risk than others. Hence, putting loved ones first can literally add to your life. It’s even better if you have a life partner because it can give you an extra 1.5 years of longevity for every decade of your life.

8. Drink Wine

Alcohol is often considered a silent killer but it’s not all bad. For example, one report published in “Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research” indicated that the mortality risk was 49% higher for those who abstained than those who drank in moderation (1- 2 glasses per day). With a strong emphasis moderation. The dose definitely makes the poison.

Wine has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, protection against many types of cancers, and stronger bones. With one caveat….. location, location, location. Blue Zone communities tend to reserve wine drinking to social gatherings with a consumption rate of several hours. Much different than downing half a bottle home alone with a mixing bowl filled with pasta while watching netflix.

9. Eat Whole Foods

Many believe that the dietary patterns are the reason for longer life spans in blue zones. And it has long been reported that blue zone communities maintain a primarily plant-based diet. But this is not necessarily true. As noted above, the blues zones vary in their eating patterns from high carb (fruits and rice), moderate amounts of meat (Mediterranean diet), and yes, vegan. So what gives? What exactly are the longest living, healthiest humans eating? Well, it might not be asking what they are eating, to what they aren’t.

After sifting through the literature, it is clear that nothing is clear when it comes to the “best foods” for longevity. The only thing that is clear when it comes the “healthiest dietary pattern” amongst the healthiest humans in the world is the abstinence from processed foods.

For a Full and Long Life, Adopt Blue Zone Habits

Incorporating lessons from blue-zone residents can lower your risk of diseases, improve your mental and physical well-being, and enrich your spiritual life. At the end of the day, individuals from the blue zone lead healthy well-rounded lives. They don’t rely on medicines to make them well but instead adopt practices that keep them fulfilled, happy, and healthy.

So, pray, indulge in activities you enjoy, eat until you’re only 80% full, drink wine, and care for your family. These are all important habits that we’d do well to emulate no matter where in the world we live.

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