The Secret To Ultimate Longevity From The World’s Longest-Lived People

Man experiencing ultimate longevity

Always keep your smile. That’s how I explain my long life.

Jeanne Calment

The aging process is a mysterious force that few of us understand. We rarely think about how we age until we start noticing wrinkles on our faces or experiencing chronic pain in our bodies. So, it’s tempting to conclude that our bad genetics limit our ultimate longevity. But, what if the breakdown of our bodies was not a pre-destined process? And, what if we had more control over our longevity than we think?

You may have heard of the Blue Zones project. Started by Dan Buettner in 2005, this global research project set out to identify the secrets of the world’s longest-lived people. Buettner studied places where people live to be over 100, which he labeled Blue Zones. He identified five of these Blue Zones – from Okinawa, Japan to Sardinia, Italy.

Buettner’s research revealed that genetics account for only 20% of our ability to live a long life. This means that our environments and life choices control our ultimate longevity. And, he managed to distill his findings into 9 powerful longevity lessons that anyone can apply (presented courtesy of

1. Move naturally.

The world’s longest-lived people have movement and activity built into their days. They don’t lift weights or run on treadmills. But, gardening, housework, and other activities keep them always on the move.

2. Find purpose.

The Okinawan word ikigai means a motivating force and a reason for living. Knowing your ikigai and why you get up in the morning can add up to seven years to your life span.

3. Downshift.

Even the world’s longest-lived people are not immune to stress. But, rather than give in to it, they have rituals to dissipate the stress and reconnect with what’s important. From prayer to naps to happy hours, each group has its unique way to rekindle the balance in their lives.

4. Follow the 80% rule.

People in the Blue Zones stop eating when their stomachs feel 80% full. The 20% difference between not being hungry and being full can help avoid extra weight gain. They also make their last meal their smallest and consume it in the late afternoon or early evening.

5. Eat mostly plants.

The centenarian diet consists of beans as the primary staple. Meat is only eaten 4-5 times a month in smaller portions.

6. Drink wine at 5.

Most of the Blue Zone inhabitants drink alcohol moderately on a regular basis. They have 1-2 glasses of wine with friends and food.

7. Find belonging.

Being part of a faith-based community can add years to your life. All of the centenarians in Buettner’s study felt a sense of belonging to such a community. Regardless of the denomination or specific beliefs, they had a spiritual practice they could rely on.

8. Put loved ones first.

Successful centenarians keep aging parents and grandparents close by. This not only helps the older population but lowers sickness in children in the family. They also reserve time and love to spend with their families.

9. Find the right community.

Having close-knit social ties is essential to a long life. The world’s centenarians belong to tight social circles that encourage positive habits. In Okinawa, children are bonded in moais – groups of five people committed to each other for life.

You don’t have to use these lessons as a strict recipe for a long life. Instead, use them as a guide to inform the decisions you make in your life. Maybe it’s taking a walk with friends, making more meals at home with family or using mediation to unwind from a stressful day. The control over your ultimate longevity is in the palm of your hand.

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