What We Can Learn From the World’s Centenarians
After 20 years of studying the world’s healthiest people, Dan Buettner has embraced midday naps, social connections over work, and a plant-based diet
There are many ways to live a healthy life. The Health Diaries is a weekly series about the habits that keep notable people living well.
Dan Buettner’s career sends him around the world in search of the healthiest habits, climates, and diets out there. He was working as a journalist when he wrote a story for National Geographic in 2005 about the world’s five so-called blue zones—places where people live the longest and healthiest lives on record. These zones include Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California.
Since then, Buettner has become something of a longevity and health expert. He’s the executive director and founder of Blue Zones, a company that offers lessons on longevity and a suite of products that includes meal planners and self-assessment quizzes. Buettner is also a National Geographic fellow and helps implement Blue Zone projects all over the world. He’s currently finishing a book about the world’s healthiest diets.
Buettner shares with Medium his recipe for a life that’s purposeful, physically active, socially connected, and mostly plant-based.
I used an alarm clock to wake up every morning for years, but then I realized my sleep was more important than getting work done. These days, I wake up of my own volition unless an alarm clock is absolutely necessary. Usually that means getting up between 7 and 7:30 a.m., after eight or nine hours of sleep. Then I read the papers, eat my oatmeal, and go out for a morning walk. Usually I’m walking and talking on the phone at the same time. It’s gentle physical activity plus getting shit done, which feels good.
I eat oatmeal for breakfast for about half the year, during the colder months. But every year I hit a kind of terminal velocity with oatmeal eating and have to quit cold turkey, so then I eat a savory breakfast of beans, rice, yams, and avocados with hot sauce, or maybe a stew, such as minestrone or a…