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As summer approaches, many of us dream about vacations – a chance to explore new places, relax, and recharge. But beyond the typical tourist destinations lies something fascinating: Blue Zones. These are places around the world where people live longer, healthier lives than anywhere else.

Blue Zones have intrigued researchers for years. From the rugged hills of Sardinia, Italy, to the sunny shores of Okinawa, Japan, and the peaceful island of Ikaria, Greece, these places are like magnets for longevity. But what is their secret? What do their inhabitants do differently that keeps them healthy into old age? As we plan our summer adventures, we can soak up the wisdom of these communities and learn how to apply it to our own lives. 

So, pack your bags, get ready for an adventure, and let’s discover the secrets to a life well-lived in the world of Blue Zones.

What are Blue Zones?

Blue Zones are a concept, geographical region, and a brand (1). The concept of Blue Zones traces back to its founder, Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow, who has identified areas around the world with an unusually high proportion of people who live longer than the expected average (2).

They are characterized by a notable concentration of centenarians and individuals who have aged gracefully without experiencing common health issues and chronic diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, or heart disease (3). Buettner observed that residents in these areas not only live longer but also lead fulfilling lives filled with physical activity, good health, and strong social connections within their families and communities. Buettner’s team, consisting of anthropologists, dietitians, demographers, epidemiologists, and medical researchers, identified nine common practices across the Blue Zones ® regions, which they termed the “Power of 9.” These practices are categorized into four areas: move, right outlook, eat wisely, and connect.

The Blue Zones regions

Buettner has identified five regions worldwide as Blue Zones ®: Okinawa (Japan), Ogliastra Region, Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica), Ikaria (Greece), and Loma Linda (California) (2), (4), (5).

Figure 1: Blue Zones are discovered around the world (2).

  1. Ikaria, Greece: Located in the Aegean Sea, Ikaria boasts one of the highest life expectancies in the world, with a population known for its healthy diet, strong social connections, and active lifestyle (5). Due to its location and rich history, the result is an isolated community rich in tradition and family values. They are almost free of the chronic diseases of the Western world, most notably dementia. One in three live to their 90s. They enjoy glass of wine, domino games and relaxed life. 
  1. Okinawa, Japan: These South Pacific islands, renowned for the world’s longest-lived women, hold numerous longevity secrets. In Okinawa, the tradition of forming “moais” provides robust social networks (5). It provides financial assistance and emotional support during times of need, thereby relieving stress and instilling a sense of security. Children as young as five years old are integrated into these tightly-knit social circles. Remarkably, one such moai, discovered by Dan Buettner, has remained together for 97 years, with an average age of 102 among its members. They meet daily to share sake and gossip, demonstrating solid solidarity; in case of absence, the remaining members promptly visit their friend. Additionally, Okinawans credit their longevity to the Confucian practice of “Hara Hachi Bu,” advocating for mindful eating by stopping when 80% full to prevent overeating. Additionally, they are very connected to their “ikigai” – finding purpose in life. 
  1. Sardinia, Italy: Situated just off the coast of Italy, Sardinia boasts the distinction of being home to some of the world’s longest-living men (5). This community, largely composed of shepherds, engage in daily walks covering approximately 5 mountainous miles or more. This natural form of physical activity not only yields expected cardiovascular benefits but also positively influences muscle and bone metabolism, all without the joint strain associated with intense marathon running. Embracing a traditional diet, Sardinians predominantly consume plant-based fare, including whole-grain bread, beans, garden vegetables, and fruits. Consumption of meat is typically reserved for special occasions, with wine enjoyed in moderation. Of note, Cannonau wine, a local favorite, contains notably higher levels of artery-cleansing flavonoids compared to other varieties. This moderate wine intake may contribute to the observed lower levels of stress among the male population.
  2. Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: With its tropical climate and tight-knit communities, Nicoyans spend just 15% of what America does on health care and are more than twice as likely than Americans to reach a healthy age of 90 years (5). Faith and family play a strong role in Nicoyan culture. So does plan de vida, or reason to live, which helps Nicoyan elders maintain a positive outlook and active lifestyle. Nicoyans eat little to no processed foods but plenty of antioxidant-rich tropical fruit and a diet rich in beans, corn, and local produce.
  1. Loma Linda, California: Unlike the other Blue Zones, Loma Linda is a community rather than a geographical region. This community of Seventh-day Adventists residing in California surpasses the average American lifespan by a decade. Drawing inspiration from Biblical teachings, they adopt a vegan diet rich in leafy greens, nuts, and legumes. Their observance of the Sabbath involves a 24-hour period of rest and reflection every week. Many Adventists maintain high levels of activity well into their late 90s (5).

Are there Blue Zones in Sweden? 

Is Sweden a Blue Zone? Well, not officially, but a publication mentions an area in southern Sweden, where the percentage of 100-year olds is just as high as in the original Blue Zones. Lessebo has the most centenarians per 100, 000 inhabitants- 75, followed by Markaryd with 63, and Högsby with 52. Together with other municipalities, that could form a Blue Zone.

Would you like to read the full article? You can find it here 

The Rise of Engineered Blue Zones: A Modern Take on Longevity and Well-Being

In the world of longevity, Singapore is breaking new ground with its innovative approach. Unlike traditional Blue Zones that develop naturally over time, Singapore is leading the charge with what some might call Blue Zones 2.0. With a strong focus on health and well-being ingrained in its urban landscape, Singapore has become a hub for longevity through planning and forward-thinking leadership. At the core of this effort is a holistic approach to wellness that prioritizes prevention, education, and lifestyle changes. Through initiatives like free health screenings, cooking classes, and community events, Singapore is fostering a culture of health and vitality. In Singapore, the aim is not just to live longer—it is to live better.

You can find the full article here

Key characteristics of Blue Zones populations- the Power of 9

Researchers sought to uncover the secrets behind the remarkable longevity of individuals in Blue Zones. Were these individuals genetically superior, or did their lifestyle choices play a crucial role?

Surprisingly, studies showed that those living in these places do not possess superior genetics compared to the general population (2). However, they adhere to a lifestyle guided by a framework known as the Power of 9 (6). This evidence-based framework is shared among the Blue Zone residents.  

Here are the key principles of the Power of 9 (2):

  1. Move naturally: Instead of hitting the gym, individuals in Blue Zones engage in natural movements throughout the day.
  2. Purpose: Having a clear sense of purpose in life can add up to 7 years to one’s life expectancy.
  3. Downshift: While stress is inevitable, Blue Zone residents have rituals to manage and reduce stress levels effectively.
  4. 80% Rule: They stop eating when they feel 80% full and practice intermittent fasting by consuming their last meal in the early evening.
  5. Vegetable-based diet: Their diet primarily consists of vegetables, with meat consumed sparingly, typically no more than 5 times a month.
  6. Wine at 5: Moderate consumption of alcohol, particularly wine, is a common practice (excluding Adventists).
  7. Belong: Nearly all interviewed centenarians belonged to a faith-based community.
  8. Loved ones first: Family and friends are a top priority in their lives.
  9. Right tribe: They surround themselves with social circles that support healthy behaviors.

Blue Zones Principles with NEM

At NEM, we embrace the Blue Zones principles while recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work for everyone. Our memberships are designed to offer you personalized health strategies that fit your unique needs and preferences.

Take diet, for instance. While we agree that a vegetarian diet can be healthy, we also know it may not be sustainable for everyone, especially meat lovers. That’s why we offer tailored nutritional plans, whether you prefer a plant-based diet or one rich in lean, high-quality meat. Our goal is to create a diet plan you can stick to, ensuring you get all the necessary nutrients for optimal health.

Similarly, we promote regular physical activity, inspired by the active lifestyles observed in Blue Zones. However, we personalize our recommendations to fit your medical needs and lifestyle, providing support to help you incorporate movement into your daily routine.

Learn about VO2 Max, a marker of overall health, here

Stress management is a key priority at NEM. We objectively measure stress levels using advanced biomarkers, establish a baseline, and monitor your progress over time. Our tailored action plans include strategies to mitigate stress, ensuring you maintain mental and emotional health. We also support healthy sleep habits through wearable technology and coaching interventions, helping you achieve restorative sleep.

Learn about how stress impacts your health, and what you can do to improve it here

Furthermore, we understand the critical role that positive family and social connections play in mental health and overall longevity. By prioritizing your health and well-being, you create the foundation for healthier, happier lives for yourself and those around you.

In summary, Blue Zones offer valuable insights into living longer, healthier lives, emphasizing the significant role of lifestyle factors alongside genetics. The Power of 9 framework underscores key practices such as staying active, finding purpose, managing stress, and fostering strong social connections. Blue Zones research provides helpful guidance for promoting well-being. By aligning evidence-based medicine with Blue Zones principles, we can learn how to live healthier and happier lives. Importantly, these behaviors start early in life, serving as a form of prevention. 

Your digital longevity clinic

As we wrap up the first part of our journey through the captivating world of Blue Zones one thing becomes clear: these lessons can transform our lives, no matter where our summer travels take us.

Imagine taking these life-changing insights with you, wherever you go.

With a membership at NEM, your digital longevity clinic, you can do just that. Enjoy personalized guidance, virtual consultations, and evidence-based strategies tailored to your needs. From nutritional advice to stress management techniques, we’re here to support you on your journey toward a longer and healthier life. Join NEM and let us help you thrive, no matter where your adventures may lead. Become a member today and start your journey to optimal health and longevity.


Silviya Demerzhan, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer, Nordic Executive Medicine
Medical review by: Dr. Mahir Vazda MD



  1. Founder’s Statement [Internet]. Blue Zones. [cited 2024 Mar 19]. Available from: https://www.bluezones.com/founders-statement/
  2. History of Blue Zones [Internet]. Blue Zones. [cited 2024 Mar 19]. Available from: https://www.bluezones.com/about/history/
  3. Marston HR, Niles-Yokum K, Silva PA. A Commentary on Blue Zones®: A Critical Review of Age-Friendly Environments in the 21st Century and Beyond. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jan;18(2):837. 
  4. Original Blue Zones Explorations [Internet]. Blue Zones. [cited 2024 Mar 19]. Available from: https://www.bluezones.com/exploration/
  5. Buettner D, Skemp S. Blue Zones. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016 Jul 7;10(5):318–21. 
  6. Kreouzi M, Theodorakis N, Constantinou C. Lessons Learned From Blue Zones, Lifestyle Medicine Pillars and Beyond: An Update on the Contributions of Behavior and Genetics to Wellbeing and Longevity. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2022 Aug 20;15598276221118494.