Blue Zones of Our Earth - Oasis of Longevity

English2021. feb. 25.Norbert CsizmadiaThe World in 100 Maps

The average life-span of people in the world is is 67.2. Within this, the highest in Europe is 77.8 years and the lowest in Africa is 53 years. In Hungary, the average life-span for women is 79.33 years for women and 72.86 for men, which is higher than the pan-European average. However, the most prominent countries are South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, Spain, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, Italy and France.

Average Age by Country and Region

Source: World Health Organisation

Countries with an Average Age of Over 80

Source: Our World Data 2019

According to a new survey, by 2030, South Koreans will have the highest life expectancy in the world. The average age for men can be 85 years and for women 91 years.

Researchers estimate that life expectancy will increase in all countries by 2030, but most effectively in South Korea. Researchers at Imperial College London, the World Health Organization, the University of Northumbria and the University of Washington with the help of 21 predictions developed a new model to predict future life expectancy in 35 countries.

South Korea's success is the green economic growth, sustainability, improved access to health care and medical technology, a combination of naturopathy and modern Western medicine, and a new conscious viability. There is a fusion of nature and technology, which improved the outlook on life which includes sustainable thinking, active healthy living, conscious eating and highly researched ancient herbal use.

The good news is that, as a result of the research, we may have the largest development in Europe in terms of increasing the average living age of men, reaching an average of 78 years in six years and 82 years in four years.

Prominent countries include South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, Spain, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, Italy and France.

How healthy will we be in 2040?

An important aspect of longevity is health. Bloomberg's research on the "healthiest countries" ranks 169 countries based on variations that promote people’s overall health.

As a result, by 2040, Spain could lead the way in terms of healthy countries.

Japan is in second place, followed by Singapore, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Israel, Iceland, France, Luxembourg and Australia.

The Healthy Countries Index

Forrás: Source: Bloomberg, 2020

Oases of Longevity - The Blue Zones of Our Earth

If we look at smaller areas rather than countries, we get an even more interesting picture.

There are areas in many parts of our world where the average age is over 100 years.

Writer Dan Buettner has been working for more than a decade to identify longevity hot spots around the world. With the help of the National Geographic Society, Buettner set out to find places where not only is there a high concentration of people over the age of 100, but also groups of people who have aged healthily.

Viability instead of competitiveness

Buettner found five zones and areas he called the Blue Zone. There are much more than only five such areas. Dan Buetter's five blue zones are Ikaria (Greece), Okinawa (Japan), Ogliastra (central Sardinia), Loma Linda (California - United States), Nicoya Peninsula (Costra Rica). The other areas are Hunza Valley (Pakistan) ), the Serpas (Nepal - Himalayan region), the Bama region of China, the Otomini Indians of Mexico and the Tarahumara tribe, the Vilabamba Indians of Ecuador, the Yekana Indians in Venezuela, and the Abkhazians of the Caucasus region.

The Blue Zones of Our Earth

In addition to genetic predisposition, awareness also plays a role for example an optimistic outlook on life, purposeful living, being active and eating healthy.

The common feature of those living in the "blue zones" is that they live in harmony with nature, value leisure and relaxation, but they also work hard, walk a lot and have a purpose in life, every morning they are aware of what they are waking up to.

In Okinawa, the terms "ikiagi" are used, in Costa Rica the terms "pura vida" and "plan de vida" are used. These ethnic groups believe that our world is life-centered, close to nature, family, company and work-based.

The secret of longevity in the "Blue Zones"

The Hunza Valley is located at the northernmost tip of Pakistan, where the Pakistan-Afghanistan-China border is located. Its location is breathtaking: no less than six mountain ranges stretch in this area. The Hunza people live in a particularly fertile valley wedged between rocky ranges. Thanks to their thousands of years of geographical isolation, they follow healthy and natural lifestyles.

They are unfamiliar with heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. They don't have doctors and hospitals, yet they live an average age of 100 years, in perfect vitality and in good health.

The Hunza people, who can live to be 110 years old, were noticed for their disease-free lifestyle in the 1960’s. They were unfamiliar with blood pressure and digestive problems, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. Researchers initially thought of old age as a genetic inheritance, but later found a correlation between their eating habits, their lifestyle with a lot of exercise, lively social life, climate, and the health status of the Hunza people.

Hunza Valley

Source: Shutterstock

The high mountain range provides a very difficult livelihood for those who live here.

The secret of their long life is work and moderate nutrition in addition to perpetual movement.

The inhabitants of the sunny Hunza Valley, who still follow their traditions, engage in terraced farming, where they grow fruits and cereals, move a lot, follow a plant based diet, eat a lot of apricots and guja (bitter melons). When American scientists visited the ethnic group, they observed that the fruits were consumed not only fresh but also in dried form, as well as lots of vegetables, oilseeds, grains, barley, and millet.

Dr. Jay Hoffman, on behalf of the Geriatric Society, summed up his experience as follows:

"The Hunza people seem to be the happiest in the world. They're happy because they really live. They're happy because they're healthy."

Bhutan, located between China and India, is one of the most secluded states on Earth due to its natural endowment. For more than a thousand years, they have lived in amazing isolation. Until the 1960's, there were no paved roads, no electrical and telephone network, no vehicles, no postal service, and the television appeared only around the year 2,000.

According to their ancient worldview, the natural state of life is happiness.

They managed to preserve their ancient traditions and way of life. In Bhutan, a total of one person died of the coronavirus, including January 2021. Bhutan has an exemplary control against the coronavirus epidemic.


Source: Shutterstock

People living in Okinawa, also known as the Island of the Immortals, were already noticed for their longevity during World War II. The researchers found that residents were accustomed to a high age of more than 100 years, and the rates of heart problems, stroke, and cancer were the lowest in the world.

Residents followed a plant-based diet, meaning vegetables, fruits and cereals provided the main source of food. One of their main foods is sweet potatoes, whole grains, leafy vegetables, fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, but rice and soy are also part of their diet. In addition, the researchers also observed that Okinawa residents are not typical of feasting like in the Western world: they eat exactly as much as they need.


Source: Shutterstock

Serpas in the highlands of the Himalayas are also among the healthiest peoples in the world. These mountain people have an exceptional physique and stamina, they live a long time thanks to their active lifestyle, and diseases are not common either, for having to climb on the mountain is part of their daily routine. Since the conquest of Mount Everest, climbers have regularly resorted to the help of the load-bearing Serpas, who are not only familiar with the mountain, but also withstand extreme physical exertion.

The Abkhazians live in Georgia and are known for the unusually high number of healthy centenarians. Unlike the kefir and yogurt commercials, Abkhazians don't eat either one of them! They drink one or two glasses of matzoni a day which is a decoction made from goat's, cow's, or sheep's milk by fermentation.

Abkhazians are usually very strong, lean people, without excess weight. They eat slowly, enjoying every minute of the meal, chewing the food thoroughly, and love each other's company.

In addition to eating, another ingredient in the recipe of the Abkhazian longevity is plenty of exercise as part of their daily activities.

There are many commonalities in the diet and lifestyle of the world's healthiest and longevous people.

They are mainly on a vegetarian diet, eating little meat. Fish is only eaten by Okinawans. Their diet is low in calories by Western standards. They do not consume industrially modified food, sugar, corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavors or other chemical substances.

Their diet is primarily based on fresh raw vegetables and fruits. Instead of consuming canned goods that are imported they eat what is locally grown in season. All longevous peoples are characterized by lifelong active movement! They all live serene, contented lives. 

In these ethnic groups the elderly are valued and remain in the family until their death, unlike in the Western societies where the individual is resorted to isolation. Large families of different generations live together and take care of one another.

From another perspective, the 8 deciding factors are: External and internal use of healthy drinking water, spending time in nature, physiological effects of sunlight, active exercise, harmony with nature and respect for work, serenity and acceptance of things, healthy eating, moderation in all areas of life, the importance of family and friends and trust in faith.

What can we learn from the residents of the Blue Zones?

⦁ Family first, focus on family
Those living in close family ties can be sure that they will be cared for properly. People with a secure family background are less depressed and stressed, with a lower rate of suicide. Children and grandchildren are also there to help, but they also feel belonging to a family and have a purpose in life.

⦁ We respect the elderly!
Grandparents give love, help around children, wisdom, and hope, ensure the survival of traditions, and encourage grandchildren to prosper. It can be assumed that this will make children healthier, navigate the world more skillfully, and live to a higher age.

⦁ Let us walk!
Walking 8 or more kilometers a day by the Sardinian shepherds is extremely good for the cardiovascular system, but it also has a positive effect on the metabolism of muscles and bones.

⦁ Drink one or two glasses of red wine a day!
Restrained wine consumption may also explain men’s less stressful lives.

⦁ Let us have a good laugh with our friends!
Laughter reduces stress and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

⦁ Let our diet be based on vegetables!
Okinawians live a vegetable-based diet for most of their lives that is rich in nutrients but low in calories.

⦁ Let us garden!
The traditional Okinawan "moai" means a safe social network. It provides financial and emotional support when needed, as they know someone is always there for them.

⦁ Let us have a "moai"!
The traditional Okinawan "moai" means a safe social network. It provides financial and emotional support when needed, as they know someone is always there for them.

⦁ Have ikiaga!
It is important that we have goals, this is called the Ikiagi, why it is always worth waking up. Ikiagi means at the same time what you love to do, what you are good at, what you are paid for, and what the world needs. That is, the intersection of passion, mission, vocation, and profession.

⦁ Enjoy the sunshine!
With regular sun exposure, vitamin D in the body results in stronger bones and a healthier body. "Smart" sunbathing (15 minutes on the arms and legs) is a good addition to our diet.

⦁ Stay active!
Elderly residents walk and garden a lot. There is little furniture in their homes, and residents spend their meals and relax on the ground, sitting on a tatami. The elderly often sit and stand up daily, strengthening their body muscles and balance system.

⦁ Grow herbs!
Mugwort, ginger and turmeric are the mainstays of Okinawan gardens, all of which have been proven to have a healing effect. Their regular daily consumption, for example, keeps diseases away from the people of Okinawan.

⦁ Appreciate what we have!
They are able to leave their troubled initial years in the past while enjoying the simple pleasures of today. They have learned to be lovable and to attract young people to their company.

⦁ Find a weekly getaway
One day a week, break your daily routine. Let us find a day to spend our time in nature with family and friends.

⦁ Maintain your healthy body mass index (BMI)
Those with a healthy BMI (that is, when the individual’s height is matched by an appropriate body weight) who live an active life and rarely or not eat meat at all are less prone to getting a disease.

⦁ Move moderately and regularly
Regular, less intense exercise, such as walking, can reduce the chances of heart disease and certain cancers.

⦁ Spend time with like-minded friends and reciprocate
It gives them a good feeling that their values are the same and that they support each other's habits. People are far from avoiding depression if they can also focus on helping others.

⦁ Snack seeds
To date, at least four major studies have demonstrated the positive effects of oily seeds on health and longevity.

⦁ Have an early light dinner
With a light, early dinner, you can avoid destroying your body with calorie bombs during the inactive, resting time of day. It also has a positive effect on sleep quality and keeps BMI lower.

⦁ Drink plenty of water
Men who consumed extra 5-6 glasses of water a day significantly reduced their chances of a fatal heart attack.

⦁ Have a "plan de vid"
Lucky centenarians have a strong purpose in life. They feel the needed by others and want to contribute to a better world.

⦁ Foster a wide range of human relationships
Centenarians in Nicoya often visit their neighbors. They learned how to listen, laugh, and appreciate their values.

⦁ Work hard
It seems that centenarians have always enjoyed doing physical work in their lifetime. They take pleasure in everyday tasks.

⦁ The power of a common past
The Chorotega’s sense of belonging to the natives and their traditions alleviates and somewhat relieves the lives of modern Nicoyans.

Longevity - A life-centric vision based on sustainability

The global coronavirus epidemic has reshaped our daily lives and we are confident that the epidemic will calm down this year, but our way of thinking, our attitude, needs to change in the long run! Awareness, sustainability, and our harmonious coexistence with nature have more and more values.

Not only because of global climate protection, but our generation is the first to recognize that we need to do both to protect our own planet, and instead of competitiveness, it is worth introducing a new term, and that is viability itself.

Because all lives matter! The three pillars of viability are sustainability, technological challenges, and "Longevity", that is a rich and long life.

This is because the boundaries of global longevity extend not only to healing and related research activities, but also to the challenges of the related governance and financial sector. According to Dmitry Kaminskiy, what was the rise of space travel and related disciplines (rocket industry, Newtonian physics, and mathematics) at the beginning of the 20th century, which also played a role in laying the foundations for digitalization, will be the industry of longevity in our age. A comprehensive synthesis is needed to establish and understand the longevity-related sciences, the current state of technology, and the prediction of the future trajectory of industry, given its unprecedented diversity and highly complex, multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary nature.

The author is the chairman of the board of trustees of the Pallas Athene Domus Meriti Foundation (PADME).