Blue Zones areas are populations around the
world where people live longest. It began with a ten year project with National Geographic
to identify these pockets where people are either reaching age 100 at the highest rates.
They have the highest life expectancy or the lowest rate of middle age mortality. They’re
geographically defined and then demographically confirmed. And we found five Blue Zones. We found our first Blue Zone in Sardinia,
Italy up in the highlands. The Nuoro and Ogliastra Provinces and there we see a population of
about 42,000 people living in 14 villages. And there is where men live the longest. Normally
in First World populations like the United States for every one male centenarian there
are five female centenarians. But up in the highlands of Sardinia the proportion is one
to one. Our second Blue Zone we found in Okinawa, Japan, the longest living women in the world.
Highest life expectancy of any other population on Earth. They’re women over 60. They live
about eight years longer than American women. Largely devoid of heart disease and the cancers
that kill us. One of the more extraordinary Blue Zones is Ikaria, Greece, off the coast
of Turkey. Ninety-nine square miles. They live about seven years longer than the average
American but most interestingly they almost completely allude dementia. We found almost
everybody over 70 on the island and found only three mild cases of dementia. In America
with a similar population you’d expect to find somewhere around 20 to 40 percent of
people who are suffering from dementia. Then in Latin America the Nicoya Peninsula
of Costa Rica. And then finally in the United States the longest living population is among
the Seventh Day Adventist in Loma Linda, California. And they live up to a decade longer than their
North American counterparts. So I spent ten years traveling to these Blue
Zones around the world trying to explain why they’re living so long. And I realized at
about year six that none of these spry centenarians ever said to themselves at age 50, well gosh
darn it I’m going to get on that longevity diet and live another 50 years. They never
bought treadmills. They never called an 800 number to buy a supplement. Longevity happened
to them. In other words it was something that ensued from their environment as opposed to
something they tried for. First of all they were eating a high carbohydrate diet. About
65 percent of their dietary intake came from carbs. Most of those, of course, are whole
grains or beans. Beans is the cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world, about
a cup of beans a day. About 20 percent of their dietary intake was fats and most of
those were vegetable fats. And about 15 percent were proteins. They did eat meat on average
about five times per month so not a lot of meat. It’s mostly a plant based diet. About
90 percent overall of their calories came from plants. They tended to eat a huge breakfast.
Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. Nuts were the universal snack. People eating
a handful of nuts lived two to three years longer than people who don’t eat nuts. And
they drink water, teas, coffee – good news. A lot of antioxidants in coffee. And then
a little bit of wine. Those were the four beverages. Soda pops were largely unknown
to Blue Zone longevity all stars. The maximum average life expectancy for people living
in America today is about 90. So that essentially means if we can avoid all the avoidable diseases
like many cancers, most heart disease, many sources of dementia and diabetes, the average
person can reach about age 90. And in Costa Rica they’re doing it at a rate two-and-a-half
times better than we’re doing it in the United States with one-fifteenth the amount
we spend on health care.