Dr. Jill Carnahan interviews Dan Buettner – renowned explorer and bestselling author, as they delve into the fascinating world of Blue Zones and uncover the secrets to living longer, healthier lives.
In this captivating conversation, Dan Buettner shares his extensive research on the Blue Zones, which are regions around the world where people live significantly longer than the global average. By studying these communities, Buettner has uncovered valuable insights and lifestyle practices that contribute to increased longevity and overall well-being.
- What do the blue zones diet have in common – the answer might surprise you
- Why might dieting be the wrong way to live longer and what to do instead
- Other key factors that influence our health and longevity that do not involve supplements or diet.
The Guest – Dan Buettner
Dan Buettner is an explorer, National Geographic Fellow, award-winning journalist and
producer, and New York Times bestselling author. He discovered the five places in the world – dubbed blue zones – where people live the longest, healthiest lives. His articles about these places in The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic are two of the most popular for both publications.
Buettner’s work is now spread across the country in partnership with municipal governments, large employers, and health insurance companies to implement Blue Zones Projects in communities, workplaces, and universities. Blue Zones Projects are well-being initiatives that apply lessons from the blue zones to entire communities by focusing on changes to the local environment, public policy, and social networks. The program has dramatically improved the health of more than 5 million Americans to date.
Dr. Jill Carnahan is Your Functional Medicine Expert® dually board certified in Family Medicine for ten years and in Integrative Holistic Medicine since 2015. She is the Medical Director of Flatiron Functional Medicine, a widely sought-after practice with a broad range of clinical services including functional medical protocols, nutritional consultations, chiropractic therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy.
As a survivor of breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, and toxic mold illness she brings a unique perspective to treating patients in the midst of complex and chronic illness. Her clinic specializes in searching for the underlying triggers that contribute to illness through cutting-edge lab testing and tailoring the intervention to specific needs.
A popular inspirational speaker and prolific writer, she shares her knowledge of hope, health, and healing live on stage and through newsletters, articles, books, and social media posts! People relate to Dr. Jill’s science-backed opinions delivered with authenticity, love and humor. She is known for inspiring her audience to thrive even in the midst of difficulties.
Featured in Shape Magazine, Parade, Forbes, MindBodyGreen, First for Women, Townsend Newsletter, and The Huffington Post as well as seen on NBC News and Health segments with Joan Lunden, Dr. Jill is a media must-have. Her YouTube channel and podcast features live interviews with the healthcare world’s most respected names.
Dr. Jill 00:12
Well, hello everybody. Welcome to another episode of Dr. Jill Live. Today we have an absolute treat and an honor to be with the well-known Blue Zone expert, Dan Buettner. I’ll introduce him in just a moment, but just as background information, you can find my podcast on YouTube, Stitcher, iTunes, or wherever you watch or listen to video or audio podcasts. You can go there, leave a review, and let us know what you’d like to hear more of.
Dr. Jill 00:40
Well, today, without further ado, I want to introduce my special guest, Dr. Dan… Not Dr., sorry, Dan—Dan Buettner. You should have an honorary doctorate. He’s an Explorer National Geographic Fellow, an award-winning journalist and producer, and a New York Times bestselling author. He discovered the five places in the world—dubbed blue zones—where people live the longest, healthiest lives. His articles about these places have been featured in the New York Times Magazine and National Geographic, and these issues were the most popular in that publication. Buettner’s work is now spread across the country in partnership with municipal governments, large employers, and health insurance companies to implement Blue Zone projects in communities, workplaces, and universities. Blue Zone projects are initiatives that apply lessons from these Blue Zones to entire communities by focusing on changes to the local environment, public policy, and social networks. And that’s where health starts, so I love this. This program has dramatically improved the health of more than 5 million Americans today.
Dr. Jill 01:40
Now, as just a little backstory, Dan, I want to tell [the audience] how we met. First, we were in Nicoya—which is one of the blue zones in Costa Rica—both speaking for YPO. And I’ll never forget [that], to my embarrassment, I’ve known about the blue zones, but somehow I didn’t put your name to the blue zones. I went up to you, shook your hand, and said: “Hi, Dan, my name is Jill. What do you do?” And then, as soon as I realized your work and all the amazing stuff you’ve brought to light, I was a little embarrassed. But you were kind and gracious and so humble. I’ll never forget that, because that just allowed me to admire you and your humility even more. You could have said a lot of things about the work that you’ve already done, and you were kind and gracious to me.
Dr. Jill 02:18
And then recently, we were both at Milken with Jeff Bland, who gave you an honorary functional medicine degree. Yes! So that was really exciting because what we do in functional medicine is so attuned to what you’ve done with the blue zones. If anyone’s heard me on this podcast, you’ve heard me mention Dan’s name, the blue zones, and his work because it’s such a foundation for how to live well and prevent and reverse chronic disease. So with all of that, Dan, welcome to the show!
Dan Buettner 02:46
It’s great to see you again after a few months! And to be fair, I didn’t recognize you as the illustrious author of Unexpected right away. Had I known that, I would have been even more humble.
Dr. Jill 03:03
You are so kind! It’s been such a pleasure and an honor, and as luck would have it, we landed together for two incredible events. And now you’ve got a new book when this is released. You guys can all get a copy of your own. I want to be sure to show you because the book is worth a thousand… It is beautiful. I have some notes there, but this book is so well done and so full of great information. We’re going to talk about that today, but it’s called the Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer. And I want to be sure to encourage you, if you’re listening, to grab your copy right away.
Dr. Jill 03:34
It’s a coffee table kind of book, and yet it’s one of those that you just want to look through. So it’s one of those [books] where you can read through cover to cover, or you can pop into the sections and the different continents and areas where you’ve discovered blue zones. Before we dive into that, I love story. So, Dan, tell us a little bit about: Where did you grow up? And how did you get interested in and introduced to National Geographic and this work? How did it all start?
Dan Buettner 03:59
Unlike a lot of health gurus, which I’m not, I’m an explorer. When you graduated from university and went off to do useful and productive things, which led you into functional medicine, I was kind of a truant. I biked from Alaska to Argentina. I biked around the world, and I biked the length and width of Africa. It took me eight years. I set three Guinness records along the way. But for the most part, it taught me how to be sensitive to other cultures. I developed a deep interest in the wisdom of traditional peoples and great empathy as well.
Dan Buettner 04:45
At my first company, called Quest Network, I developed a method of exploration that led an online audience to direct a team of experts to solve a mystery, which involved harnessing the wisdom of the crowd. I think we solved the mystery of why the Maya civilization collapsed, and we took on another dozen or so mysteries. Most of our virtual explorers were students.
Dan Buettner 05:11
The last expedition in that series was to Okinawa, Japan. In 1999, the World Health Organization published a study finding that Okinawa had the longest disability-free life expectancy in the world. That means they were living the most years in full health. They weren’t getting diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or dementia anywhere near the rates that we’re suffering today. I said: “Aha! That’s a good mystery.” I applied my sort of sleuthing skills to trying to figure out what Okinawa was doing well. That led to the initial interest in blue zones.
Dr. Jill 06:00
Wow! Did you come up with the name Blue Zones? Or where did that come from?
Dan Buettner 06:05
Well, yes and no. The ‘no’ part of it is that my colleague Dr. Gianni Pes in Sardinia identified the blue zone there. He first used the term ‘blue zone’ as it applied to one very special mountainous area in Sardinia. I met him on an assignment for National Geographic, and I borrowed his term, which was only used in one academic journal. I applied it worldwide; there are now five recognized Blue Zones around the world, and I’m responsible for the other four. But that also includes the Sardinian blue zone and my meta-analysis of longevity hotspots.
Dr. Jill 06:53
This is so fascinating because, as I hear your story, you were an explorer. But what you had that was unique that not everybody had was this detective mind, this ability to put puzzles together and put pieces together. And it’s interesting because, like Dr. Jeff Bland and myself in our own little world, it’s really that curiosity that is the mark of a genius, and I think that fits you so well because you were curious enough to say, “Huh, there’s something interesting here,” and then start to really look. How did you then start to find the zones? Did you first look at the data from longevity and then go there? How did that happen with the next blue zones that you found and discovered?
Dan Buettner 07:32
Yes, I was very honored that Jeff honored me with the honorary functional medicine. I think we share a lot of the same approaches. They’re based on science, but they sort of go a little bit deeper than, I would say, medical. But I worked for National Geographic, and they don’t publish anything unless it’s evidence-based or at least an expert [opinion]. So we had to start with population studies done by demographers.
Dan Buettner 08:01
There are a handful of demographers in the world who specialize in this process of identifying longevity hotspots. The expert I worked with was out of the University of Belgium; his name is Michel Poulain. I hired him for two of the expeditions and worked with him on two of the other expeditions. But essentially, what they do is find a swath of birth records that go back about 100 years, then follow those people for 10 decades and find out how many are left at the end. Then they adjust that number for immigration and emigration because people come and go. Then you get a number of centenarians. And this process can actually be done going farther back. So for a blue zone, you want to know how many centenarians [have] lived in an area, say, for the last 150 years.
Dan Buettner 09:00
It’s mathematically intensive; it takes the better part of a year. But when we say that people are living the longest here, we have very indisputable, mathematical demographic data to underpin that. So once you know that people there are living longer, you engage a whole other litany of experts to help use established processes to evaluate how and why or find the correlations. For that, we use epidemiology, anthropology, and medical research. I rely on studies that others have made. And I had a very good board of academic advisors that included Jay Olshansky, Tom Perls, Bob Kane, and even Ancel Keys, who first identified the Mediterranean diet. He was the first expert who sort of anointed this project and helped me down a path of, I like to say, scientific responsibility in distilling what I write about in my books.
Dr. Jill 10:12
Tremendous! Right now, whether you’re on social media or even at the local bookstore, you’re going to see a milieu of books that say the ‘keto diet’, the ‘paleo diet’—you name what diet—’vegetarian’, ‘vegan’, and they all disagree, and there are all these camps. What I love that you have come to find out with your research is that often it’s not even about the type or the macronutrients of the food; it’s about how it’s grown and the community. So let’s dive into some of the things about diet, but [also] into the bigger picture that you bring about human connection, meaning, and purpose in life. Start to give us the lay of the land as far as what creates a blue zone and why you can have different food groups that are not very popular right now sometimes, like potatoes or things like that. Talk a little bit about that.
Dan Buettner 11:01
Yes. Well, let’s start with diet, and then we’ll talk about the things that surround diet because a lot of people are interested in diet. And I’d say it’s about half of the prescriptive… So if you want to know what a 100-year-old or a population of 100-year-olds ate to live to be 100, you can’t just ask them what they’ve been eating lately because they don’t remember. If I asked you what you had for lunch two weeks ago on Tuesday, you probably couldn’t tell me. So it’s really unfair to ask a 100-year-old what they were eating when they were kids, 20, newly married, or newly retired because diets change over time. So to get at that, we found dietary surveys conducted by local national universities or the government. We found 155 of them in all five blue zones, going back to about 1930 or 1920 in some cases.
Dan Buettner 12:01
And then I had a Harvard scientist named Walter Willit who helped me do what’s called a meta-analysis. It’s oversimplified and sort of a worldwide average. On average, traditionally speaking, people in blue zones were eating 90% to 100% whole foods [that were] plant-based—the five food groups you see. I’m actually going to add a sixth here. But they’re all eating whole grains, greens, tubers like sweet potatoes and potatoes, nuts, beans, and whatever seasonal fruit or vegetable happens to be growing now, which varies from time to time. But that’s what they’re eating. They do eat meat—but it’s a celebratory food—about five times per month, with a portion about the size of a deck of cards. They eat very little fish, surprisingly. Blue zones tend to be inland. They often eat a little bit of cheese, but not a lot. They drink coffee, tea, water, and wine. Those are the five beverages you see.
Dan Buettner 13:19
So it’s not vegan. It’s not keto. It’s something in between. It’s a blue-zone diet, and it doesn’t focus on any micronutrient. You can break down the macronutrients, but I find that mostly confuses people. If you get people eating a whole-food, plant-based diet, you’re 95% of the way there to eating till 100 for most people. I know there are people with dietary restrictions, and I know there are outliers. But if Americans could eat that way, we’d probably add 10 years to our life expectancy over eating the standard American diet.
Dr. Jill 14:00
Yes, Dan, what I love and what I’m hearing, I think, deeper than what they’re eating, which is not only good foods in their regions but [also that] they’re connected to the earth. Many of these people probably grow some of their own food. And I think the thing that might be missing is actually what’s absent, which is soda, processed foods, chemical-laden [things], and the environmental toxic load. As I hear you talk about this, it sounds like they’re really eliminating [such things] or are in areas where they’re not getting all these additives, preservatives, and processed foods. There’s quite a variety, and there are some commonalities, for sure, but it’s almost like there’s an absence of all of this garbage that is in the standard American diet.
Dan Buettner 14:39
The absence of garbage and, I would say, the addition of a lot more fiber than we eat. And many different strains of fiber. I think that’s largely overlooked as a nutrient. But also bacteria—it’s not going to be as sterile as the food [Americans tend to eat]. The other thing, like you pointed out, [is that] people in blue zones all have gardens, and they work the gardens into their 90s and 100s. It’s hard to say. Are people healthy because they’re eating out of their garden or because they’re working in their garden? It kind of clusters together as a set of behaviors. But it’s so clear that no matter if you’re looking for populations of successful agers in Asia, Latin America, Europe, or the United States, the same patterns you see over and over again.
Dr. Jill (pre-recording) 15:39
Hey, everybody. I just stopped by to let you know that my new book, Unexpected: Finding Resilience through Functional Medicine, Science, and Faith, is now available for order wherever you purchase books. In this book, I share my own journey of overcoming a life-threatening illness and the tools, tips, tricks, hope, and resilience I found along the way. This book includes practical advice for things like cancer and Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune conditions, infections like Lyme or Epstein-Barr, and mold- and biotoxin-related illnesses. What I really hope is that as you read this book, you find transformational wisdom for health and healing. If you want to get your own copy, stop by ReadUnexpected.com. There, you can also collect your free bonuses. So grab your copy today and begin your own transformational journey through functional medicine and finding resilience.
Dr. Jill 16:35
It makes so much sense. And from a gut expert’s perspective, the microbiome’s diversity is king with longevity. What you’re describing is a diet that will create a diverse microbiome. People think it’s probiotics and all these things they take. It’s not. It’s the food that we eat and the diversity—the in-season food, fresh from the soil whenever possible, versus [food] trucked across for two weeks on a refrigerated semi-trailer. So it’s really exciting to hear that and to encourage people.
Dr. Jill 17:00
One other thought that I just learned recently is that nitric oxide allows our blood vessels to dilate. So as we age, I think at the age of 40, we have about 50% production. At the age of 65, we have about 15% production. This is our heart, our lungs, our sexual function, and all the good things that happen and that decline as we age. Well, guess what? All these plants from the soil, whether it’s tubers, beets, turnips, potatoes, or leafy greens—which are a huge part of what you just said—are so rich in nitric oxide. And you would think, “Okay, organic produce is great.” Well, guess what? Organic produce actually has very little nitrate because, organically, they can’t add the nitrates to the soil.
Dr. Jill 17:34
So I wonder if one other little piece of the puzzle is that they’re growing foods, they’re able to add fertilizer and the kind of normal stuff that farmers do to the soils, and they’re producing nitrate-rich crops that are actually plant-based. I love that. Who knows? But it’s just a thought.
Dan Buettner 17:50
It could be.
Dr. Jill 17:51
What are some of the other things? So obviously, there are a lot of things. I resonate with the lifestyle that you taught us and relate it to meaning and purpose and some sort of belief in a higher power, although they’re very different. Tell us about these other things.
Dan Buettner 18:06
Well, if you’re listening right now to us, you might be leaning in and saying: “Oh, my God, I like what this Dan Buettner is saying about this longevity diet. I’m going to start eating a whole food plant-based diet now, and I’m going to eat more beans and more tubers.” But we know from the literature that people who go on diets fail almost all the time. About 97% of people who start diets fail within two years. When it comes to longevity, there is no short-term fix. You have to think about things you’re going to do for decades or a lifetime, not just for a number of months or a couple of years.
Dan Buettner 18:49
So the big insight that blue zones offer us is how to keep doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things for long enough so we don’t develop heart disease, type 2 diabetes, several types of cancer, or dementia. Most of which, by the way—you probably know this, Jill—are avoidable. First of all, the people they surround themselves with in Okinawa—it’s called a moai, but a group of four or five people—tend to be people who share these values, people whose idea of recreation is gardening or walking, and friends who are also eating mostly a whole-food, plant-based diet. They don’t have some friend who’s barbecuing wieners or meeting for the happy meal at McDonald’s. They care about you on a bad day, so they have a social circle that helps.
Dan Buettner 19:45
Their lives tend to be underpinned by purpose, so they’re not waking up with existential angst. They’re more likely to take their medicines and keep a healthy lifestyle. They live in places where every time they go to work, a friend’s house, or out to eat, it is an occasion to walk. They have gardens out back. They don’t have mechanical conveniences to do their work. So they’re mindlessly doing physical activity all day long, not having to go to the gym to furiously try to make up for their day sitting at their office. They’re eating wisely, mostly a whole-food, plant-based diet. They’re moving naturally because their lives are underpinned with purpose. They’re surrounded by a small group of people that help keep them doing the right things, and they live in places where the healthy choice is the easy choice.
Dan Buettner 20:42
It’s that cluster of factors that helps people make it to 100. And notice I didn’t say anything about superfoods. You know, if I can help it, there’ll never be a Blue Zone “superfood” because, in my opinion, all superfood is bullshit, it’s marketing, and it’s not going to save you. We have no supplements. I’m not a believer in supplements for the vast majority of people. There’s not “the Blue Zone diet plan” because these things make money, but there’s no documented instance where they actually help you live longer. So blue zones is very much [about] taking, in many cases, the wisdom of your great-grandmother and applying it back into a modern context.
Dr. Jill 21:29
I love this, and I love how you say they almost make it easy to do because, number one, you’re surrounded. We’ve always known this: With our top five friends, we’re most likely to eat like them, we’re most likely to weigh similar to them, and we’re most likely to do the kind of things they do. If all of our top friends go out and binge drink every weekend, it’s more likely that we’re going to do that as well. So I love that you talk about that. What was the most surprising thing that you found in your study of the blue zones? Was there something that surprised you in any way?
Dan Buettner 21:57
Yes. None of these people try to live longer. Not one of them pursues health. They’re not mustering [inaudible] presence of mind, calling an 800 number, or working out—none of the things we do to stay healthy. The big insight is that instead of trying to change your behavior, the secret is changing your environment, because in every one of these blue zones, it’s their environment. It’s the hundred or so unconscious micro decisions they’re making every day throughout the day that add up to an extra 10 years of life expectancy as opposed to, “Okay, I’m going to get up, I’m going to join CrossFit, and I’m going to work out every day” or “I’m going to get on the keto diet and I’m going to stay on the keto diet,” which never works. It’s our unconscious decisions that make a far bigger difference in our health than our conscious decisions.
Dr. Jill 23:02
Gosh, I love that because that makes it easier when we start to change our mindset, our friends, and our environment. And gosh, BJ Fogg and James Clear—there’ve been some great books there about keeping healthy habits, and most of them are [about] incorporating them into our identity of who we are. And what you’re really describing is that this is just who they are—what their great-grandparents taught them to do and how to live.
Dan Buettner 23:25
Yes, perhaps. I would argue, though, that if you took a very unhealthy American whose parents ate McDonald’s, Burger King, and Doritos and put that person in Ikaria or Nicoya, not where we stayed but inland, they would start shedding pounds. They would get metabolically healthy. Again, I don’t think it’s about consciously changing habits or lifestyles in any case. All they do is live their lives the way their grandparents did. It doesn’t require sacrifice. It doesn’t require assessing your food, measuring your food, or limiting what you take. But it’s all about shaping your environment.
Dan Buettner 24:14
I’ll give you the best example. You take certain counties in Kentucky, America, where the life expectancy is 20 years less than say Boulder, Colorado, or Ogden, Utah, or Santa Barbara, California. Is it because people in those three cities are better Americans and have more discipline, or do their parents love them more than people in Kentucky? No! It’s because in Boulder, Colorado, it’s easier to walk or bike across town than it is to drive. You have very easy access to healthy food. You have very easy access to outdoor recreation, and the people around you are way more apt to call you up and say, “Let’s go do a hike” than “Let’s go to the Wiener roast” or to the ballgame and sit around and drink beer and eat potato chips. So the big revelation, and I’m kind of a contrarian or a disruptor on this point, [is that] until America starts figuring out we need to shape our environment to make it easier to move more, eat less, eat better, eat more plant-based, socialize more, and know and live our purpose, we’re not going to see a big change in the 4.4 trillion dollar healthcare bill that we’re shelling out every year today.
Dr. Jill 25:40
Yes, that makes so much sense. And of course, I’m right near Boulder, Colorado. You’re right, anyone who comes into town or if I meet a friend, we’re usually [like], “Hey, let’s meet for a hike” versus dinner or versus… The most common option for us to meet to talk business is “Let’s go on a hike.” So I love it.
Dan Buettner 25:57
I love it. I love it! That’s exactly right.
Dr. Jill 26:00
So if you’re just joining us, we are talking about Dan Buettner’s new book, Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer. This is a must-get. This is one of those books you will come back to again and again; it’s just very fun and beautifully done. Like I said, it’s one of those that you could have on your coffee table and flip through, or you could read it cover to cover and get tips every single time you pick it up. So it’s really, really worth it. The last thing I want to end with Dan is your last, or, I don’t know, second to last chapter, your rules to live by. And you’ve got a lot of different rules to live by. But maybe just share with our audience a few of your top [ones]. We’ve kind of talked about diet. We’ve talked about the environment [and] connection. But what are some practical things that people could do in your rules to live by that would make a difference in their lives and their health?
Dan Buettner 26:40
The first one, instead of going on a diet, is to get your hands on a good plant-based cookbook. I’ve written Blue Zones Kitchen, but there are lots of other good ones out there. Take a few Sunday afternoons, sit down with your family, identify a handful of recipes every Sunday that you could cook as a family, and learn how to cook and taste them. At the end of the day, when it comes to longevity, the most important ingredient is taste. So if you cook your way through enough recipes until you find half a dozen you love, my job is over. Taste is going to drive you back to that recipe. So that’s a rule to live by.
Dan Buettner 27:27
Number two: Curate your immediate social circle very carefully. As you alluded to earlier, if your three best friends are obese and unhealthy, there’s a 150% better chance that you’ll be overweight. I’m not telling you to dump your old, unhealthy friends, but I will say that proactively adding a couple of friends [is helpful]. People’s idea of recreation these days is playing pickleball—you know, Jeff’s a big pickleball player—or gardening or biking. Something active. It’s not a bad idea to have a vegan or vegetarian in your immediate social network because they’re going to show you where and how to make or find delicious plant-based food. That’s completely contagious.
Dan Buettner 26:40
Also, I would say the other big rule to live by is to take the time to know your sense of purpose. What I mean by purpose is knowing what your values are. And I actually advocate sitting down and writing them out. “What am I?” “I’m Christian” or “I’m a Republican” or “I’m a Democrat” or “I care about women” or “I care about animals.” Write them out. Then, in a separate column, [write]: “What do you love to do?” “Well, I love to get involved in activism,” “I love to fix things,” or “I love to solve arguments.” Whatever it is, write those down. Third column: “What am I good at?” “I’m really good at taking care of older people,” or whatever it is. Then look for the commonality in those three columns, and then write a fourth column: “Where can you put those gifts to work?” For some people—a minority—it’s their job. I would argue that what you do, Jill, and what I do, we live our purpose. But that’s only about 30% of Americans. The other 70% have to put their purpose to work, and purpose means nothing unless you’re putting it to work. You have to do it either through a hobby or through volunteerism. It’s far more powerful than you think.
Dan Buettner 29:43
So why am I talking about purpose? This comes from a National Institute on Aging study; we know that people who are living their purpose live about eight years longer than people who are [inaudible] with their lives. I can’t make any money off of that. Steven Gundry can’t make anybody off of your purpose. But there’s better research, and there’s better evidence that living a purpose-driven life will make you live longer than just about anything else. So those are three rules.
Dr. Jill 30:12
Tremendous. And if you want more, they’re in the book; please get your copy because this is such a worthwhile read. Like I said, it’s one that you’re going to come back to again and again. The last thing, Dan, it sounds like this is obviously your work… First of all, a quick question, how long ago did you start working on blue zones? How many years have you been studying this?
Dan Buettner 30:33
Twenty years. Twenty years this year, so a long time. I thought I was going to write a cover story for National Geographic and move on to something. But first of all, in my work over the past 11 years, I’ve worked with 72 American cities that have adopted Blue Zone’s principles, and I’ve actually been able to lower the BMI and raise the level of expectancy of entire cities. So I just find new ways to apply it. I have a whole line of whole plant-based frozen foods, Blue Zone frozen foods, coming out in November at Whole Foods. So there are different ways to sort of evangelize this way of living.
Dr. Jill 31:19
Yes, and what I love is that it’s clearly part of your passion and purpose in life. What changed the most for you in the 20 years of studying blue zones, like your personal habits, your activities, and your connections? What was the biggest change for you as you learned the blue zone data?
Dan Buettner 31:35
I’m plant-based. I don’t eat meat anymore. I ate very little processed food every once in a while in a weak moment. I know that being social is better for me than working a few more hours, so it’s very hard to get me to do any work after 5 p.m. or even after 4 p.m. I live in walkable communities very consciously. I live in Miami—a very walkable part of Miami. I lived in Santa Barbara before. My friends—I’ve let my kind of unhealthy friends go a little bit. Not that I dump them, but I’m really proactive about finding cool, healthy friends because I know they’re going to impact my life and my mood. So a lot of the wisdom I’ve discovered I’ve put to work in my life.
Dr. Jill 32:27
Amazing. Well, we see it; we see it reflected. And again, I think that’s what makes you such an incredible icon in this work because you walk the walk and you live what you talk about. And that means a lot because not everybody’s out there doing that—doing the work and then transforming. So, I cannot say thank you enough for what you brought to the world. This new book—the last thing, the last time I’ll show it here—grab your copy of Blue Zones Secret for Living Longer. It’ll be out when you hear this podcast. And if you’re ever in Boulder in the winter, I’ll take you skiing; in the summer, I’ll take you hiking.
Dan Buettner 33:03
Uh-huh. That’s a good deal. I’ll take you up on that. And by the way, if anybody has other questions, I always answer my Instagram. I’m @DanBuettner. If you have a question, I’ll be happy to answer it. And it was really a delight, first of all, meeting you in person twice and now meeting you over the airwaves here. So I hope we get to see each other more often, Jill. You’re doing fantastic work. You’re very articulate, and you are a great evangelist for functional medicine, and I’m glad to be part of your tribe.
Dr. Jill 33:41
Aw. Thank you, Dan. And the last thing is, where can people find your book and your website? You said Dan Buettner for Instagram. I’ll just repeat that. We’ll have the links wherever you’re watching or seeing this. What about the website for the book and for finding more [information] about you?
Dan Buettner 33:52
DanBuettner.com. We have a free newsletter that is free of advertisements, and you can get that at DanBuettner.com. The book—I always prefer people buy books at bookstores, but you can also get it on Amazon. I have four New York Times bestsellers, and this book is meant to be an easy-to-use guide to harnessing the wisdom of the longest-lived people to help you live longer. And yes, Instagram—I probably do more on Instagram than anything else.
Dr. Jill 34:27
Perfect! Yes, so get on there and follow Dan. Thanks again, Dan! What a pleasure to talk to you again.
Dan Buettner 34:33
It’s an absolute delight! I’m sending you a telephonic hug!
Dr. Jill 34:27
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.