“What if all you understand
Could fit into the center of our hand?
Then you found it wasn’t you
Who held the sum with everything you knew”
Live to Rise
Album: Avengers Assemble: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture (2012)
There’s a television series called Living to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones about large groups of people who live long and prosper, and there’s not a Vulcan in sight. The docuseries profiles group members who are active, independent, engaged in their communities, and the younger generations respect them. Longevity on steroids!
I had a vague awareness that people in certain European and Asian nations were enjoying longer projected lifespans than those of us in the US. As far as what was driving their success, I had assumptions rather than facts.
That changed just over a week ago.
And I wasn’t just hearing it from scientists. I was hearing it from the people living those long lives.
National Geographic Explorer and best-selling author Dan Beuttner spent the last twenty years traveling the world to speak with and learn from them.
You can either buy Dan’s book, The Blue Zones: Secrets for Living Longer, or stream Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones on some obscure little platform called Netflix. In a handful of hours, you’ll learn their secrets.
Note: I’m not affiliated with Dan or Netflix, so I’m receiving no compensation for recommending the book or the show. If Dan or Netflix wish to change that, I’m easy to reach and happy to update this newsletter to reflect it.
Note 2: The “secrets” part is pure marketing, since the documentary’s subjects happily shared what’s working so well for them. If there’s any secret underfoot here, it’s why we aren’t more invested in a lifestyle that contributes to longevity.
Watching the show, it was inspiring to see people living active, productive, and joyful lives at advanced ages.
Two things stood out most to me about it:
You don’t need a lot of money to live a long life.
The people featured on the show weren’t popping expensive supplements, visiting high-end spas and gyms, and relying heavily on pharmacological solutions to keep them going.
The people thriving at these advanced ages looked a decade, or decades, younger than they were.
Their lifestyle choices afforded them greater mobility, helping them maintain fitness and vitality in their advanced years.
I’ll share a few high level takeaways from the series’ few-hour runtime.
An agrarian-based diet was a common denominator. I can sense the meat-eaters amongst you shrieking in horror, and the occasional lamb burger-eater in me wants a word with me about that, too.
But the facts are the facts: Meats made up a paltry amount of their overall diet. I’m talking five percent or less, paltry.
Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains were plentiful on their plates. So, if you’d find your grocery store’s meat section and processed food aisles even if we blindfolded you in an Antarctic blizzard, just know there’s work to do and the withdrawal is only temporary.
They also enjoyed their guilty pleasures in moderation, with saki and wine being two examples.
They emphasized the value in maintaining physical and mental fitness. Their high-impact activities ranged from walking, to playing pickleball, to practicing yoga and martial arts.
And the magic of their agrarian diet wasn’t limited to its consumption: Lower-impact activities included gardening, growing and picking their food, and bare-handed meal prep rather than relying on machines to slice, carve, and crush.
Sedentary → cemetery
Their smiles seemed perpetual, their laughter infectious. Friends, family, and neighbors enjoying each other’s company demonstrated their communities’ strengths as a support system and a source of joy.
The blue zone residents support each other while inspiring and teaching younger generations to follow their example. Between their community and family social dynamics, they spoke of fulfilling, stress-free lives.
Sense of purpose
The blue zone residents met each day with joy, contentment, and the determination to remain active, engaged, and productive.
What many may view as a simple life brought them an abundance of riches.
This newsletter barely scratches the surface of Living to 100. The series identifies each community’s keys to success and recognizes the common themes amongst them.
There’s a pleasant surprise at the end regarding geography that I hope leaves you with the same hope and inspiration it left me with.
I’ll wrap with the show’s trailer to further whet your appetite:
If you’ve watched the show, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. Send me an email, and I’ll publish your comments with my response in a future newsletter.