People who live long, healthy lives have these 9 things in common—'I call them the Power Nine,' longevity researcher says

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The possibility of living a longer, healthier life is more attractive than ever, and for guidance, we can look to the daily practices of people who live the longest.

There are five areas in the world where people's life expectancies exceed the average expectation. These places, commonly known as the Blue Zones, are:

  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Loma Linda, Calif., U.S.
  • Sardinia, Italy

Dan Buettner is a longevity expert who visited these areas and classified them as Blue Zones. Buettner recently appeared on an episode of "Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris," and discussed the similarities that people in these parts of the world share.

"There are nine common denominators," Buettner said. "I call them the Power Nine."

The 'Power Nine': 9 similarities residents of Blue Zones share

According to Buettner, people in Blue Zones tend to:

  1. Eat a mostly whole-food, plant-based diet. At least 90% of the diets of people in Blue Zones are made up of whole foods and plant-based ingredients, Buettner said. Around 65% of their caloric intake comes from whole grains, greens, tubers, nuts and beans, he added.
  2. Develop a vocabulary for purpose and focus on it. "People with a sense of purpose live about eight years longer than rudderless people," Buettner said. In Okinawa, Japan, ikigai is the term used to describe a sense of meaning.
  3. Participate in daily sacred rituals to unwind and reduce stress. "Adventists pray several times a day," Buettner said. "The Ikarians and Costa Ricans take a nap."
  4. Drink a little bit of alcohol each day. "Over 85% of people, especially males, making it to 90 or 100 drink every day of their life," he said. But "most of the time, it's homemade wine."
  5. Use unconscious strategies to keep from overeating. "They don't have electronics in their kitchens, they eat with their families [and] they tend to frontload their day with calories and taper off by late afternoon or early evening," Buettner said.
  6. Prioritize family. In Blue Zones, residents usually keep their family members close, even when they're older. "If you keep your aging parent nearby as opposed to putting them in a retirement home, it conveys somewhere between two and six extra years of life expectancy," he said.
  7. Invest in their relationships. "Married people live longer than non-married people," Buettner said. "They [also] invest in their children, so that they have higher survivability and lower mortality rates."
  8. Belong to a faith. "People who go to church, temple or a mosque live somewhere between four and fourteen years longer than people who have no religion," he said. 
  9. Pay a lot of attention to their immediate social circle. Friendships are really important to people in Blue Zones, and many have built-in social circles.

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