Review: Buettner’s Blue Zones

The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest
Dan Buettner

The first book in the Blue Zone empire. Though it is at times silly, this is a must read for anyone interested in longevity.

If you’ve been living under a rock, let me briefly explain the conceit of this book. “Blue Zones” are areas of the world which have abnormally high levels of centenarians. In the book, Buettner and his team go to five of these zone (Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California,
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica and Icaria, Greece) and attempt to discover why it is that people in these communities live so long.

A lot of anecdotal evidence is collected, some of it more scientific than others, but all of it fascinating. Buettner takes this information and develops a set of nine guiding principles for a long, healthy life. These include:
1. Moderate, regular physical activity.
2. Life purpose.
3. Stress reduction.
4. Moderate calories 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.

In other areas of this website, I write quite a bit about these principles. Here I’ll just say that while the subject matter of this book is fascinating, the presentation can be a bit annoying. As what is basically a popular health and wellness book, it has all those annoying side bar anecdote things plus silly cute stories of old people, and maudlin reflections on how fucked up the modern world is. I found it often annoying, but also essential. Hold your nose, and get through the corniness. There’s a lot of very important information here.


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