<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=611241922821277&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Speak with an Advisor

Blue Zones Secrets: The Hidden Keys to Longevity

Posted by Tim Roberts on Feb 4, 2024 8:41:59 PM

There has been a lot of interest lately around the world's five ‘Blue Zones’ -- those places where people live the longest-- particularly since the Netflix documentary Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones debuted in August 2023. After all, who doesn't want to live a longer and healthier life? Those familiar with Storylines and the life onboard our inaugural residential ship MV Narrative will know that the Blue Zones have served as inspiration for our global lifestyle long before the documentary came out. One of our more popular posts, Longevity Wellness: The Quest for Healthy Aging, covered much of the blue zone lifestyle.

Today we are revisiting the topic to delve deeper into the Blue Zones to unlock the secrets and healthy habits that are enabling people to have a high quality of life for so long. We will also demonstrate how we emulate the Blue Zones at Storylines through our guiding principles, lifestyle choices, and utilizing the facilities onboard MV Narrative. But first, to those who may be wondering…


Where are the ‘Blue Zones’?

The world's five ‘Blue Zones’, as identified by explorer Dan Buettner, are those regions in the world where the inhabitants live the longest. At the time of writing, the several longevity hotspots consist of:


Okinawa, Japan

Boats anchored in tropical bay with islands in blue zone hotspot Okinawa, Japan Loma Linda, California

Elevated view looking over Blue Zone secrets spot Loma Linda in California, USA

Ikaria, Greece

A few yachts anchored in pristine bay of a tiny village in blue zone Ikaria, GreeceSardinia, Italy

Crystal clear turquoise waters of a beach in Blue Zone Sardinia, Italy Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Palm tree-lined surf beach on blue zone spot the Nikoya Peninsula, Costa RicaThese regions have the highest rates of living centenarians in the world. Let's find out why!


The Power 9 Habits from the Blue Zones

The hugely popular Netflix documentary, Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones, is based on Dan Buettner's groundbreaking research into where people live the longest and why. While there is no silver bullet for longevity, there are environmental factors and lifestyle choices that the Blue Zone inhabitants live by.

In short, Buettner reports on studies conducted by the National Institute of Aging, National Geographic, and a scientific inquiry into Danish twins. It was discovered that only 20% to 30% of longer life spans are determined by genetic makeup. The remaining 70% to 80% comes down to lifestyle habits and other factors.

Buettner reported certain themes and commonalities backed by scientific evidence that the majority of the Blue Zone centenarians shared. He calls these the "Power Nine" and has written about them in his bestselling book, The Blue Zone: 9 Lessons of Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.


Let’s walk through the Power Nine lifestyle habits and what they entail:


1. Move Naturally


In a world where people go to extreme lengths to stay fit, including joining gyms, boot camp groups and other vigorous activities, the world's longest-lived people do none of this. Instead, their daily habits and environment are conducive to moving naturally. This could mean traversing hills to get around town, tending to gardens daily, or simply lifting yourself off the floor regularly (as the Japanese do). Such regular physical activity lowers heart disease risk and other age-related diseases.


2. Purpose

Grandfather and grandchild gardening as their purpose in lifeA common thread throughout the Blue Zones is having a clear and defined reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Costa Ricans call blue zone mindset plan de vida and the Japanese word for it is ikigai. Both roughly translate to "purpose". Research suggests that knowing your sense of purpose can add up to seven years to your life expectancy, and a major contributor to such incredible health outcomes.


3. Downshift

Dude downshifting, one of the blue zones secrets chilling on a balcony with a coconut looking over tropical jungleDownshifting is all about reducing stress. You simply cannot overestimate the effect stress has on the body and mind. From high blood pressure to chronic disease, these effects can have fatal consequences and reduce lifespan. The world's longest-lived people have daily routines to lower the risk of stress. This could be in the form of prayer, napping, or a mindfulness practice. Anything that provides a better balance of work and relaxation and helps lower blood pressure and stress on a daily basis is doing your body and soul a massive favor.


4. 80% Rule

Table on cruise ship with left over food for blue zone secrets 80% ruleEating less can expand your lifespan and prevent you from becoming overweight. This habit simply means only eating until you are roughly 80% full. This is because eating too much requires your body to work harder. Imagine if your body has to work harder to digest too much food every day—it's easy to see why over a lifetime this would wear your internal organs down. Inhabitants of the Blue Zones know the difference this 20% gap makes. Moreover, their smallest meal is typically eaten in the late afternoon or early evening, with nothing else consumed for the remainder of the day.


5. Plant Slant

Chef picking fresh vegetables from herb garden for farm to table restaurant

Citizens of the Blue Zones eat very little (if any) processed foods. Instead, they lean towards nutritious foods as part of a whole foods diet that includes fruits, vegetables and legumes. These include fava, soy, and lentils. Meat is eaten in moderation and only consumed on average five times a month. A good habit is to embrace the Mediterranean diet, which boasts an abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat yogurts, olive oil, and fish. This blue zone diet can significantly reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome—a combination of obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and other factors that increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.


6. Wine at 5

dreamstime_s_79572845Perhaps our favorite of the Power 9 habits, "wine at 5" means precisely that. All of the Blue Zone regions, except the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, drink a moderate amount of alcohol. This is typically one to two glasses of red wine around five in the early evening shared with close family, friends, or with food. Red wine contains antioxidants that are good for heart health and may reduce the risk of cancer. As such, "wine-o-clock" is now legitimately a thing!


7. Belong

Holding hands as part of belonging to a faith based community

One of the most interesting findings from the Blue Zone research was that most of the centenarians interviewed belonged to a faith-based community (denomination doesn't seem to matter). Even if you are not the religious type, belonging to a community and believing in a higher power greater than oneself could improve your well-being and prevent an early death. This is arguably most evident in Loma Linda, California, where the inhabitants are a large Christian community known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which is also a part of the higher education system at Loma Linda University.


8. Loved One's First

A multi-generational family sitting on a couch, a common blue zones themeThriving centenarians in the blue zones prioritize their families. This involves keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or within the household—a practice known to reduce chronic diseases and premature death. Many also dedicate themselves to a life partner, and they invest time and love in their children and grandchildren, recognizing that such investments increase the likelihood of receiving care when health problems such as dementia and mobility issues arise in later years.


9. Right Tribe

felix-rostig-UmV2wr-Vbq8-unsplashHaving a strong sense of community throughout their lives is a common theme amongst the world's longest-lived people. For example, Okinawans have what they call moais, a group of five friends who are committed to each other for life. Their tight-knit group supports each other and influences each other's positive behaviors. Whether it be close friends, family, neighbors, or all combined, having a strong sense of community is an essential element for a long life span.


Storylines: the Next Blue Zone?

Healthy looking Retired couple achieveing longevity while traveling and looking across a lake to Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Storylines' MV Narrative is a luxury residential ship circumnavigating the globe every three years. While we certainly enjoy luxury living, we are a community dedicated to healthy living, giving back, and making genuine connections. Residents of the ship identify as global citizens, actively participating and contributing to the world in which we visit.

In addition to our eight guiding principles, a core part of our culture is living in an optimal state of health. Not only do we aim to extend the lifespan of our residents, but to improve overall health so they can enjoy future years with vibrancy and vitality. This goes for all of our residents, regardless of age or stage of life.

To learn more about how we emulate the world's Blue Zone lifestyle and habits, visit our Wellness & Longevity website page. If your goal is to live your best, healthiest and longest life while exploring the world, then let's chat today.














Topics: Health, Principles, Residents

Join the Storylines Community