Blue Zone - Wikipedia

Regions of the world where people are claimed to live longer than average

The 5 ‘Blue zones’ as originally envisioned by Dan Buettner

Blue Zones are regions of the world where a higher than usual number of people live much longer than average. The term first appeared in his November 2005 National Geographic magazine cover story, “The Secrets of a Long Life”.[1] Five “Blue Zones” have been posited: Okinawa (Japan); Sardinia (Italy); Nicoya (Costa Rica); Icaria (Greece); and among the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California, based on evidence showing why these populations live healthier and longer lives than others.[2]

The concept grew out of demographic work done by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain[3] outlined in the Journal of Experimental Gerontology,[4] who identified Sardinia’s Nuoro province as the region with the highest concentration of male centenarians. As the two men zeroed in on the cluster of villages with the highest longevity, they drew concentric blue circles on the map and began referring to the area inside the circle as the “Blue Zone”. Together with demographers Pes and Poulain, Buettner broadened the term, applying it to validated longevity areas of Okinawa, Japan and among the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California. Buettner and Poulain, under the aegis of National Geographic, then identified and validated longevity hotspots in Nicoya, Costa Rica and Icaria, Greece. Buettner mentions in his book that people are doing the right things for long enough, and avoiding the wrong things,” there are four main things that people in those zones do in order to live healthier and longer lives, and they consist of moving regularly, which does not consist of exercise alone, but doing daily energy burst habits throughout the day. The second aspect is living with purpose, having a reason to get up every day, and living with perspective. The third aspect of blue zone populations is the social support they receive from friends and family allowing them to move through life outcomes more smoothly. Fourth but not least is the concept that most still do not understand, which is making the “healthy choice the easy choice”, and not just an option. Living by these four concepts brings longevity and mental and physical problems to one’s life and society.

Blue Zones[edit]

The five regions that are identified in the book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest are:[5]

  • Sardinia, Italy (particularly Ogliastra, Barbagia of Ollolai, and Barbagia of Seulo): One team of demographers found a hot spot of longevity in mountain villages where a substantial proportion of men reach 100.[5] In particular, a village called Seulo, located in the Barbagia of Seulo, holds the record of 20 centenarians from 1996 to 2016, that confirms it is “the place where people live the longest in the world”.[6]
  • The islands of Okinawa, Japan: Another team examined a group that is among the longest-lived on Earth.[5]
  • Loma Linda, California: Researchers studied a group of Seventh-day Adventists who rank among North America’s longest-lived people.[5][7]
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: The peninsula was the subject of research on a Quest Network expedition which began on January 29, 2007.[5][8][9]
  • Icaria, Greece: An April 2009 study on the island of Icaria uncovered the location with the highest percentage of 90-year-olds on the planet, where nearly 1 out of 3 people make it to their 90s. Furthermore, Icarians “have about 20 percent lower rates of cancer, 50 percent lower rates of heart disease and almost no dementia.”[5][10]

Residents of these places produce a high rate of centenarians, suffer a fraction of the diseases that commonly kill people in other parts of the developed world, and enjoy more years of good health.[11]


A Venn diagram of longevity clues from Okinawa, Sardinia, and Loma Linda.

The people inhabiting Blue Zones share common lifestyle characteristics that contribute to their longevity. The Venn diagram highlights the following six shared characteristics among the people of Okinawa, Sardinia, and Loma Linda Blue Zones:[12][failed verification]
Though not a lifestyle choice, they live as isolated populations with related gene pool.

  • Family – put ahead of other concerns
  • Less smoking
  • Semi-vegetarianism – the majority of food consumed is derived from plants
  • Constant moderate physical activity – an inseparable part of life
  • Social engagement – people of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities
  • Legumes – commonly consumed

In his book, Buettner provides a list of nine lessons, covering the lifestyle of people who reside in blue zones:[13]

  1. Moderate, regular physical activity.
  2. Life purpose.
  3. Stress reduction.
  4. Moderate caloric intake.
  5. Plant-based diet.
  6. Moderate alcohol intake, especially wine.
  7. Engagement in spirituality or religion.
  8. Engagement in family life.
  9. Engagement in social life.
Moderate, regular physical activity.

The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are countless, according to numerous researches regulating exercise and keeping a healthy diet is the number one thing to do in order to prevent most diseases such as cardiovascular problems, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes depression, anxiety, arthritis, obesity, and accidents. When people exercise their bodies release chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, that auxiliary and prevent pain and depression emotions, among the neurotransmitters released are endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine chemicals. Studies withing people of the Blue zones have shown that being physically active does not mean going to the gym everyday, what it means is being constantly moving and trying to exercise your body while doing daily tasks.

Life purpose.

Learning your sense of purpose, requires life-long learnings. People in the Blue Zones live meaningfully trying to be open to life success and failures as outcomes need to be met for the greater good and enriching life, Okinawans for example utilize the concept known as Ikigai Japanese word for “a reason for being”. [14]

Stress reduction.

Stress affects everyone, the rule of thumb for those living in the blue zones is to learn on how to cope with stress, plus not all stress is bad, because the feeling itself can be good to prepare the body for threats and to be alert. Although it if stressful situations are overpowering your day to day basis this can disturb the bodies homeostatic system and cause serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and even in extreme cases irregulate the normal functioning of areas of the brain causing mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. [15]
Some ways to cope with stress is having social support groups in which you can confide and have regular visits to your health care providers, getting regular exercise, setting goals, and trying to relax and cope with difficult situations. [16]

Moderate caloric intake.

In order to maintain a strong and healthy body, one’s does not need to deprive themselves to a limited number of calories a day. According to the United States Government project called “My Plate,” the average caloric intake varies according to gender and physical fitness between 1,500-2,200 calories. [17]

Plant-based diet.

The countries located in the blue zones are mostly ingesting foods contained in the Mediterranean diet which consists mostly of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds, and spices, and having meats sporadically and in their vast majority fishes and lean meat. [18]

Moderate alcohol intake, especially wine.

According to researchers light to moderate consumption of alcohol-related products such as wine, champagne, beer and other alcoholic beverages, may provide a couple of benefits to the overall health, such as cardiovascular problems reductions, but being physically active and maintaining a healthy diet are shown to have greater health benefits in the long run.

Engagement in spirituality or religion.

Religiosity involvement spirituality is associated with better health outcomes, including greater longevity, coping skills, and health-related quality of life. In other words, people that use their religion to cope learn that serving and thinking about others is what matters the most, which may be influenced by the next to topics[20]

Engagement in family life.

The areas that represent the Blue Zones, engage in social support and family-oriented practices since childhood, they learn that their choices and outcomes will have an impact not only on them but also on their families, therefore they want to grow together and share their lives successful and failures within their families.[21]

Engagement in social life.

Just like family, social ties affect our health according to studies human beings need different social relationship groups, in order to decrease stress, cardiovascular diseases, and disorders. Physical contact from simple actions such as holding hands to higher forms of contact such as sex can assist the body in releasing important chemicals such as hormones, that bring biological benefits on top of mental, emotional, and physical ones.
Tying the knot for example, although difficult can become the primary relationship in a subjects life. And the evidence is very strong that marriage is generally good for health,” says Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, an expert on health and relationships at Ohio State University. “But if a relationship isn’t going well, it could have significant health-related consequences.”
Studies have found that those who are married are more likely to have greater cardiovascular health than single individuals, and research has also shown that when one of the partners engages in improving their health the other is likely to follow as well. [22]


Based on research results in the fields of biogerontology, epigenetics and naturopathy, the term Blue Zones is also used for areas whose native flora grows under special conditions and can effectively counteract the aging process. Such mostly high-altitude areas are located in Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet or China.[23] The Swiss research group Bluezones in cooperation with the Forschungsgruppe Haslberger of the University of Vienna focuses on secondary plant substances from such areas, which could have a use in the area of anti-aging, neurodegenerative diseases and geriatric diseases.[24][25] In 1998, the Swiss group dealt with the eating habits of the population of Yuzurihara, where the inhabitants grew very old with the best quality of life.[26] Longevity regions are also being studied in China.[27] Another research group of the University of California, in collaboration with the University of Rome La Sapienza, is investigating temporal bluezones in Italy outside of Sardinia.[28][29]


A study of claimed longevity in Okinawa was unable to verify whether or not people there were as old as they claimed because many records did not survive WWII.[30] More recent data has shown that life expectancy in Okinawa is no longer exceptional when compared to the rest of Japan: “male longevity is now ranked 26th among the 47 prefectures of Japan.[31]

See also[edit]


  • Buettner, Dan (2019). The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic. ISBN 978-1426220135.
  • Buettner, Dan (2012). The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic. ISBN 978-1426209482. OCLC 777659970.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ “Longevity, The Secrets of Long Life”. National Geographic Magazine. November 2005. Archived from the original on 2017-05-30. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  2. ^ “This Adventurer Discovered The Secrets To Long Life — And It Could Save Iowa $16 Billion By 2016”. Business Insider. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  3. ^ Poulain M.; Pes G.M.; Grasland C.; Carru C.; Ferucci L.; Baggio G.; Franceschi C.; Deiana L. (2004). “Identification of a Geographic Area Characterized by Extreme Longevity in the Sardinia Island: the AKEA study” (PDF). Experimental Gerontology. 39 (9): 1423–1429. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2004.06.016. PMID 15489066. S2CID 21362479. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-01-07. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  4. ^ Poulain, Michel; Pes, Giovanni Mario; Grasland, Claude; Carru, Ciriaco; Ferrucci, Luigi; Baggio, Giovannella; Franceschi, Claudio; Deiana, Luca (2004-09-01). “Identification of a geographic area characterized by extreme longevity in the Sardinia island: the AKEA study” (PDF). Experimental Gerontology. 39 (9): 1423–1429. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2004.06.016. PMID 15489066. S2CID 21362479. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-01-07. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Buettner, Dan (21 April 2009) [2008]. “Contents”. The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest (First Paperback ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Geographic. p. vii. ISBN 978-1-4262-0400-5. OCLC 246886564. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  6. ^ “Seulo, il paese più longevo del mondo Soprannomi e segreti del paese dei record – Cronaca”. L’Unione 2016-04-03. Archived from the original on 2016-10-20. Retrieved 2016-11-27.
  7. ^ Anderson Cooper, Gary Tuchman (November 16, 2005). “Transcripts on Living Longer”. CNN. Archived from the original on September 8, 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-25. See CNN excerpt Archived 2011-03-17 at the Wayback Machine on YouTube.
  8. ^ “Nicoya, Costa Rica”. Archived from the original on 2011-03-15. Retrieved 2011-03-04.
  9. ^ Dan Buettner (2007-02-02). “Report from the ‘Blue Zone’: Why Do People Live Long in Costa Rica?”. ABC News. Archived from the original on 2011-05-11. Retrieved 2011-03-04.
  10. ^ The Island Where People Live Longer Archived 2017-10-10 at the Wayback Machine, NPR: Weekend Edition Saturday, May 2, 2009.
  11. ^ Buettner, Dan: “The Secrets of Long Life.”, page 9. National Geographic, November 2005.
  12. ^ Power 9™ » Blue Zones – Live Longer, Better Archived 2011-12-29 at the Wayback Machine: “Blue Zones – Live Longer, Better”, Quest Network, 2006.
  13. ^ Buettner, Dan (2012-11-06). The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. National Geographic Books. ISBN 9781426209499. Archived from the original on 2016-03-28. Retrieved 2015-09-22.
  14. ^ Gordon, Mara. “What’s Your Purpose? Finding A Sense Of Meaning In Life Is Linked To Health”. NPR.
  15. ^ “5 Things You Should Know About Stress”. National Institute of Mental Health.
  16. ^ “Stress Management Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior”. Mayo Clinic.
  17. ^ “Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level”. Government Dietary Guidelines.
  18. ^ “What is the Mediterranean Diet?”. American Heart Association.
  19. ^ “Alcohol use: Weighing risks and benefits”. Mayo CLinic.
  20. ^ “The Role of Religious Coping Strategies in Predicting Depression among a Sample of Women with Fertility Problems in Shiraz”. U.S National Library of Medicine.
  21. ^ “Blue Zones Power 9: Lifestyle Habits of the World’s Healthiest, Longest-Lived People”. Blue Zones.
  22. ^ “The Role of Religious Coping Strategies in Predicting Depression among a Sample of Women with Fertility Problems in Shiraz”. New In Health.
  23. ^ “Why People in “Blue Zones” Live Longer Than the Rest of the World”. Healthline. Archived from the original on 2019-09-04. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  24. ^ “Blue Zones”. Archived from the original on 2019-06-03. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  25. ^ Wiedemann, Dominik; Haberl, Thomas; Riebandt, Julia; Simon, Paul; Laufer, Günther; Zimpfer, Daniel (2014). “Ventricular Assist Devices – Evolution of Surgical Heart Failure Treatment”. European Cardiology Review. 9 (1): 54–58. doi:10.15420/ecr.2014.9.1.54. ISSN 1758-3756. PMC 6159437. PMID 30310486.
  26. ^ KOMORI, TOYOSUKE (1984). “Looking back of studies on the long life village “Yuzurihara”. – Especially upon the relation-ship between long life and bacterial situation in intestine”. Japanese Journal of AMHTS. 11 (3): 199–209. doi:10.7143/jhep1975.11.199. ISSN 1884-4081.
  27. ^ Zhao, Zhongwei (2008), “The Challenge to Healthy Longevity: Inequality in Health Care and Mortality in China”, Healthy Longevity in China, Demographic Methods and Population Analysis, 20, Springer Netherlands, pp. 269–287, doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6752-5_16, ISBN 9781402067518
  28. ^ Schaeffel, Frank (1999). “Das wachsende Auge – ein optisches System mit Autofokus”. Biologie in Unserer Zeit. 29 (4): 238–246. doi:10.1002/biuz.960290407. ISSN 0045-205X.
  29. ^ Aversa, Antonio; Bruzziches, Roberto; Francomano, Davide; Greco, Emanuela A; Migliaccio, Silvia; Lenzi, Andrea (2010). “The Role of Steroids in Endothelial Function in the Ageing Male”. European Endocrinology. 7 (2): 115. doi:10.17925/ee.2011.07.02.115. ISSN 1758-3772.
  30. ^ Poulain. “Exceptional Longevity in Okinawa”.
  31. ^ Hokama, Binns (2008), “Declining longevity advantage and low birthweight in Okinawa”, Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health, 20 Suppl: 95–101, PMID 19533867

External links[edit]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *