Book Reviews

Book Review: “The Blue Zones”

Review written by Silas Grant

This is book three (3) of the second half of 2020 for me. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is a book that I’ve had on my shelf for far too long. I randomly picked it up while walking in the hallway at one of my former places of employment. Typically, there would be book giveaways in random hallways on random days at my former job. I picked the book up, did some searching online about the book and knew the basic concept. But I never sat down to read the book in its entirety. I finally did so this week and I’m glad that I did.

The concept: The book is the finished product of research done by Dan Buettner (the author) and a team of researchers and scientists as they traveled the world to find the “secret sauce” that caused people in certain hubs/zones to live longer. These “Blue Zones” were areas with the highest concentration of “centenarians”….or simply put….people who are at or over the age of 100. In these zones, there are also people who are approaching the age of 100. Folks over the age of 80 but under 100 who are also very active, independent, and living a fulfilled life. The four (4) “Blue Zones” in the book that are highlighted are Sardinia (in Italy), Okinawa (in Japan), Loma Linda (in California), and Nicoya (in Costa Rica). The team of researchers and scientists conduct countless interviews with centenarians and those approaching that status. Their ages are verified, lifestyles inspected, and questioned heavily about tips to living well-lived lives.

Key takeaways:

Control and purpose – Those were interviewed talked a lot about growing their own food, maintaining their traditions, and having purpose in life. One man, a 75-year old in Sardinia was asked about his daily work which included long trips to retrieve food for weekly meals. When asked if his life was boring, he scoffed and stated that he takes the utmost pride in knowing his family eats food that he grows and retrieves. That is his purpose.

Isolation – These villages are often in remote areas and their residents are opposed to being forced to take on new traditions. Many of their customs are from ancient times and they slowly embrace new traditions by choice and at their pace (which is in moderation).

Faith – Many of the zones have elders who worship, acknowledge, and/or pay homage to a God and/or their ancestors. The practice of faith has helped with discipline, which has helped with a routine that keeps their wellness rhythm going.

Honoring the elders – These communities/zones/villages/tribes all have a high respect for elders. They don’t just honor them. The centenarians are included in the daily life of the towns they live in. The residents rely on them to provide food, services, and social entertainment. Because the centenarians are included in the way of life of these zones, their sense of purpose increases their viability and confidence.

Peasants – The book references this word several times. Besides a surgeon that performed operations into his 90s, none of the people interviewed displayed or hinted to financial wealth. It was almost as if people who were strained just a bit financially had just enough and that waste and excess were contributing factors to rapid decline in many people across the globe. The centenarians interviewed knew how to stretch resources and live simple lives.

Recently, I turned 41 years old. A few weeks ago, my wife’s great aunt died at the age of 106. That is a 65 year difference. I’ve been in constant thought about how I can increase my vitality and longevity. But a constant theme in the book is about groups or zones where this vitality and longevity exists. The superb lifestyles of centenarians in “Blue Zones” can be attributed to many of them living in close proximity to one another. So it is not just about an individual committing to wellness. The question becomes “How do you shape the mindset of your entire tribe to shift toward vitality and longevity?”. The book ends with tips on what you can do today to begin that path. It has encouraged as well as motivated me to take swift, immediate action to enhance my wellness commitment to myself and my tribe.

I highly recommend the book. It is an eye-opener to what life could be for many of us.

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