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Thoughts on The Blue Zones

I have just finished reading 'The Blue Zones' by Dan Buettner. The concept behind the blue zones is that there are certain areas around the world where people live much longer than normal. These areas have significantly higher numbers of people living into their 90s or over 100. Not only do people survive to these ages, they generally are quite fit and healthy at these ages. The book looks at the lifestyles in these areas and tries to work out what can be done to improve our own life expectancies.

The main thing I noticed was that all the blue zones occured in places with warm weather and little seasonal variation. The book did occasionally make comments about people being able to grow their own vegetables all year or that people had ‘optimised’ there vitamin D levels. Little chance of that in Scotland, I suppose you could grow your own vegetables if you were willing to heat a greenhouse or had enough space inside and used daylight lamps, but attempting to ‘optimise’ vitamin D levels through natural exposure to the sun would just lead to exposure of the cold. Another comment was that people would often get up with the sun and go to bed at the same time. Again, attempting to do this in Scotland would have you nearly bed bound for a couple of months, while only getting a couple of hours sleep during the summer.

I am curious if there are any blue zones in the more temperate regions, are they there and they weren’t found or is it actually impossible to have a blue zone where everyone has to wrap up warm for a significant portion of the year. If I want to significantly increase my chances of reaching 100, do I need to move to the mediterranean?

The other thing I noted from the book was that it would focus on some aspects of people in a blue zone without contrasting with the other zones. For example it made quite a big deal about the amount of red wine that was drank by the people in one regen, but didn’t really contrast it with the fact that another region focused on drinking only water and shunning alcohol and coffee. So I am left wondering why the book decided to make those points. Is there any evidence that drinking wine is better than going without and focusing on drinking water?

Overall I did enjoy the book. I am not sure I will change my lifestyle that much as a result.

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