Places in the world where people live long, happy, healthy lives

Of these places, or so called blue zones scientists are studying for their longevity secrets, three are islands, one is a peninsula and one is a religious community.

The top five places

1. Okinawa, Japan

The most proven centenarians live In Okinawa, a group of islands 580 km off the coast of Japan. Inhabitants of the Okinawa islands not only live the longest in the world, they are also the healthiest. They grow old with relatively few age-related ailments.

2. Sardinia, Italy

Ovodda in Sardinia.

Sardinia is an island 194 km off the coast of Italy. The men, mostly farmers and shepherds, often live to over a hundred years old. The town of Ovodda, with only 1 700 people, boasts five centenarians.

3. Loma Linda, California

The community of Loma Linda, east of Los Angeles includes about 9 000 Seventh Day Adventists. Adventist culture is focused on healthy habits including vegetarianism. They frown on drinking alcohol and smoking.

4. Nicoya, Costa Rica

Nicoya has a community where men often reach the age of 90. They also have the lowest cancer rates in Costa Rica. There routines include eight hours of sleep and their diet consists of nutrient-rich foods like beans, corn and rice. Their water is naturally high in calcium and magnesium.

5. Ikaria, Greece

Ikaria is a Greek island 56 km off the coast of Turkey. Like Nicoya, people there easily live to 90 and older. Chronic diseases are a rarity and inhabitants have almost no dementia. Boasting mineral hot springs, Ikaria has been a health destination for centuries. A distinct version of the Mediterranean diet is followed on this island. It emphasizes olive oil, vegetables, beans, fruit, moderate amounts of alcohol and low quantities of meat and dairy products.

What these places have in common

  • An environment that encourages a healthy diet and exercise
  • Healthy relationships and psychological well-being
  • People who share the same lifestyle and outlook on life
  • People who garden and work the land
  • Easily accessible public health systems
  • Older people are valued in their families and in the broader community
  • Limited or no consumption of refined sugar
  • Limited or no consumption of processed foods

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