Blue Zone – The Power Nine

A recent CNBC Make It article highlights the “nine” similarities that people living in the five known “Blue Zone” share, quoting longevity expert Dan Buettner, who claims to have visited these locations: Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Loma Linda, California, USA; and Sardinia, Italy..

Buettner told CNBC “There are nine common denominators. I call them the Power Nine.”

According to Buettner, people living in Blue Zones share the following 9 similarities:

  1. Eat a mostly whole-food, plant-based diet. At least 90% of the diets of people in Blue Zones are made up of whole foods and plant-based ingredients. Around 65% of their caloric intake comes from whole grains, greens, tubers, nuts and beans.
  2. Develop a vocabulary for purpose and focus on it. People with a sense of purpose live about eight years longer than rudderless people. In Okinawa, Japan, ikigaiis the term used to describe a sense of meaning.
  3. Participate in daily sacred rituals to unwind and reduce stress. Adventists pray several times a day. The Ikarians and Costa Ricans take a nap.
  4. Drink a little bit of alcohol each day. Over 85% of people, especially males, making it to 90 or 100 drink every day of their life. But most of the time, it’s homemade wine.
  5. Use unconscious strategies to keep from overeating. They don’t have electronics in their kitchens, they eat with their families [and] they tend to frontload their day with calories and taper off by late afternoon or early evening.
  6. Prioritize family. In Blue Zones, residents usually keep their family members close, even when they’re older. If you keep your aging parent nearby as opposed to putting them in a retirement home, it conveys somewhere between two and six extra years of life expectancy.
  7. Invest in their relationships. Married people live longer than non-married people. They [also] invest in their children, so that they have higher survivability and lower mortality rates.
  8. Belong to a faith. People who go to church, temple or a mosque live somewhere between four and fourteen years longer than people who have no religion. 
  9. Pay a lot of attention to their immediate social circle. Friendships are really important to people in Blue Zones, and many have built-in social circles.