Where on earth people live the longest: the main secret is revealed
The secret of eternal youth has not yet been discovered, and, to be honest, it is unlikely that it will ever be. Aging is an inevitable part of life, but humanity has always sought a recipe for longevity. The pursuit of eternal youth has created a multi-billion dollar industry, ranging from anti-aging products, supplements, and diets to experimental classified methods that have been the subject of conspiracy theories for centuries.
At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the average life expectancy in the UK was about 46 years. In the 20s of the 21st century, it almost doubled to 82 years. The Science Alert publication has revealed where on Earth people live the longest and what is the secret of the "blue zones".
Where people live the longest on Earth
In fact, current life expectancy, at least in developed countries, has increased significantly due to medical advances and improved living and working conditions.
But living longer also comes at a price. Doctors are seeing higher rates of chronic and degenerative diseases, with heart disease consistently topping the list. So, instead of striving for longevity, we should be more interested in being healthy for as long as possible.
Interestingly, in some places, a large proportion of long-lived people have been found to exhibit extraordinary physical and mental health.
AKEA's study on the island of Sardinia, Italy, for example, identified a "blue zone" (so named because it was marked with a blue pen) where there were a higher number of locals who had reached their 100th birthday.
This "longevity hotspot" has since been expanded to include several other regions.
People live the longest in the following regions:
- Ikaria, Greece;
- Okinawa, Japan;
- Nicoya, Costa Rica;
- Loma Linda, California;
- Sardinia, Italy.
People who live in these zones also share some common traits that center around being part of a community, having a purpose in life, eating nutritious and healthy foods, keeping stress levels low, and exercising daily.
Their longevity may also be related to the environment, as they are predominantly rural, less polluted areas.
Studies show that genetics may account for only about 20-25% of the causes of longevity, meaning that life expectancy is a complex interaction between lifestyle and genetic factors.
Is the secret in the diet?
Each "blue zone" has its own approach to nutrition - so one specific food or nutrient does not explain longevity. But interestingly, a diet rich in plant-based foods (e.g., local vegetables, fruits, and legumes) is common to these zones.
For example, the people of Loma Linda are predominantly vegetarians. Okinawan longevity is characterized by a high intake of flavonoids (a chemical compound commonly found in plants) from purple sweet potatoes, soybeans, and vegetables. Consumption of this compound has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, including lower cholesterol levels and reduced incidence of stroke and heart disease.
Certain lifestyle factors (such as smoking and poor diet) can also shorten life expectancy. But a plant-based diet is not the only secret. In Sardinia, for example, meat and fish are consumed in moderation in addition to local vegetables and traditional foods such as acorn bread, pan carasau (sourdough pancake), honey and soft cheeses.
Several of the "blue zones" also have a high consumption of olive oil, wine (about 1-2 glasses per day), and tea. All of these contain powerful antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage as we age.
It may be the combination of the protective effects of different nutrients in the diet that explains their exceptional longevity. The diet of the residents of the "blue zones" does not contain ultra-processed foods, fast foods or sugary drinks that can accelerate aging.