Only 20% of how long we live is determined by our genes, according to a Danish study.
In 1999, writer Dan Buettner read an article from the World Health Organization that revealed that people in Okinawa, Japan had the longest disability-free life expectancy in the world.
Four years later, he read a Danish Twin Study showing that just 20% of how long we live is determined by genes.
Buettner’s interest was piqued, and he set about finding similar places to Okinawa.
“I reasoned there must be other heterogenous populations with extreme longevity,” he tells The Post.
“I figured that if I could find the common denominators they might offer some insights for the rest of us.”
In his latest book, “The Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer: Lessons From the Healthiest Places on Earth” (Dreamscape Media), Buettner revisits the five places on earth he identified — or “Blue Zones” — where the locals live significantly longer than anywhere else on the planet: Nuoro in Sardinia, Italy, Ikaria in Greece, Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, Okinawa in Japan and Loma Linda in California.
It’s a 20-year quest that has since seen the idea expand to healthy eating and lifestyle books, as Buettner seeks to share the secrets of what he calls the Blue Zones’ “super-agers.”
In conjunction with a new series on Netflix, Buettner now reveals his Blue Zones “Power 9” behaviors — the key traits that help these people live longer
From having a sense of purpose to strong social connections, from prioritizing family to a largely plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, it’s a design for a long, healthy life.
But as Buettner explains, life in the Blue Zones is also changing as the arrival of ultra-processed food and high fats, sugar, and salt — coupled with access to the convenience of modern technology like cell phones — alters the fundamental nature of the inhabitants’ lifestyles.
Indeed, one of the original Blue Zones, Okinawa in Japan, can no longer be classed as such.
“Most of the longevity phenomena in the Blue Zones will be gone within a half generation,” says Buettner.
“But we know the blueprint and that survives.”
It’s no coincidence, though, that those people in the Blue Zones not only live longest but are also among the happiest in the world.
It is, says Buettner, proof that ever-advancing years needn’t mean a poorer quality of life.
“I’ve interviewed hundreds of 99-year-olds and never met one who didn’t want to live to 100,” says Buettner.
“All Blue Zones are in the top 20% of the happiest places in the world and Nicoya is in the top 1%.
“Remember, the same things that help get you to 100 are the things that create happiness along the way. “