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If you want to know the secret to a long and healthy life, we suggest that you read the book The Blue Zones Solution, Places in the World Where You Live to 100 (352 pages., Editora Vogais, Portugal) published in 2016. The topic arouses so much curiosity that the book transformed Dan Buettner in the top-selling author on the New York Times book list.

With support from National Geographic magazine, the author visited the so-called “Blue Zones”, cities with the highest levels of well-being and longevity in the world, to wit: Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Nocoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California. The book includes life habits, such as dieting, physical activity and social organization of people who live in these regions. It even includes recipes for those who like to cook. Presented below are the author’s main tips.

9 steps to reach the Blue Zone:

  1. Move, move, move. Most centenarians interviewed lead a naturally active life. Activities like planting a garden, cycling, taking the stairs, and walking to the store are all ways we can incorporate more movement into our lives.

  2. Purpose and Meaning.. What gets you excited to wake up each morning? The author discovered that those who live longer and more vibrantly had a purpose that resonated with them. According to Buettner, this added seven years to their life.

  3. Stress Busters. We all know that ongoing stress can wreak havoc on your body by producing inflammation, thereby putting you at risk for a host of diseases. Some strategies for shedding stress among centenarians include praying, spending time with friends, taking naps and pausing a few minutes each day in gratitude for their ancestors.

  4. Eat Mindfully. Inhabitants in Okinawa, Japan, say the mantra “Hara hachi bu” before meals to remind them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full. This requires mindfulness, something that is missed if we’re checking emails or watching TV while we eat. People in the Blue Zones also report eating their heaviest meals early in the day and a light meal at the end of the day.

  5. Eat a plant-based diet. Most centenarians eat a diet that includes fresh vegetables, nuts and beans, like soy and lentils. Eating meat was limited to less than five times a month.

  6. Drink Red Wine. The American Heart Association associates health benefits and decreased mortality with moderate wine consumption (1-2 four-ounce glasses a day). People in all the Blue Zones (except the Adventists) were found to drink alcohol moderately and regularly with food while socializing with friends.

  7. Have Faith. Almost all centenarians interviewed (98%) belong to some faith-based community. It doesn’t matter what you believe. Research shows that attending some faith-based service four times per month will add up to an extra 14 years of life.

  8. Family Commitment. Centenarians in the Blue Zones value family. Many are part of an extended family – mother, father, uncles and grandparents –, either living in the same house or nearby. They all prioritize quality time with their loved ones. Most of them are in committed partnerships, which research shows can add three years to life expectancy.

  9. Positive Social Circle. You become the average of the five people you surround yourself with most. Research from the Framingham, which focuses on risk factors of heart disease, shows that “smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness is contagious”. Having a close-knit group of dependable friends that foster positive behaviors is crucial to longevity, according to Beuttner. Okinawans, in Japan, create “moais” – groups of friends that are committed to each other for life.

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