These are the characteristics shared by “Blue Zones,” communities that have the largest numbers of residents aged 100 or more:
Natural movement. The longest-lived people don’t pump iron at the gym. Instead, they live in environments that constantly encourage them to move as part of daily life.
Purpose. The Okinawans call it ikigai, which translates to “a reason for being.” Having a sense of purpose adds to life expectancy.
Calming actions. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. The world’s longest-lived people have routines to shed stress, like prayer, naps, and social drinking.
The 80-percent rule. Hara hachi bu, the Okinawan mantra said before meals, reminds the Japanese to stop eating when they are 80-percent full. People in Blue Zones eat their smallest and last meal in the later afternoon or early evening.
Plant preference. Beans, including fava, black, soy and lentil, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat is eaten on average only five times per month, in small portions.
Wine is fine. Most people in Blue Zones drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Moderate means one to two glasses of wine per day, with friends and with food.
Belonging. Most centenarians belong to a faith based community. Denomination doesn’t matter.