New Netflix series shares the secrets of how to live to 100

New Netflix series shares the secrets of how to live to 100

Women in Okinawa routinely live to a ripe old age


We’re all frequently (and often painfully) reminded about all the things that can shorten our life expectancy: too many processed foods; not enough exercise, to name but two.

But now, a new Netflix documentary, created by bestselling author Dan Buettner, explores not what destroys us, but what can help us live to a ripe old age.

Buettner has spent the past 20 years locating and then researching five communities across the world which he identified as having the highest rates of longevity and good health.

These areas – located in Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California – are now known as “Blue Zones”, and are the subject of his fascinating four-part series.

Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones, which premieres on 30 August, follows the award-winning journalist as he gets to know the people who hold the secrets to living well into their 100s.

Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones | Official Trailer |

After years of studying these Blue Zone inhabitants, Buettner and his team of demographers, anthropoligists, medics and epidemiologists managed to pinpoint nine lifestyle habits that are consistent across all five populations.

They have dubbed these the “Power 9”, and they form the heart of the new docu-series.

So what are these nine habits? And can anyone adopt them, regardless of their postcode?

1. Move Naturally

We all know the importance of keeping fit but, according to Buettner, the world’s longest-lived people “don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms”.

“Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it,” he and his colleagues state on the website for their Blue Zones organisation.

These groups don’t rely on machines to do their housework, they grow gardens and tend to all their chores by hand.

2. Have a sense of purpose

Having a sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy, the Blue Zones team has concluded.

Knowing why you wake up in the morning is crucial to making the most of your life.

3. Eliminate stress

Everyone suffers from stress, even the people who live in Blue Zones, and stress leads to chronic inflammation which is associated with every major age-related disease.

However, the difference between how many of us cope with stress and how these communities do is that they take active steps to “shed” it.

“Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists (who live in Loma Linda, California) pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour,” Buettner says.

Moving 'naturally' is key to living longerNetflix

4. Eat till you're 80 per cent full

Okinawans understand the importance of not overeating. Indeed, they constantly remind themselves to stop eating when they’re 80 per cent full.

The 20 per cent gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it, according to the Blue Zones team.

They note that people in the five communities eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then don’t eat anymore for the rest of the day.

5. Go plant-based

Sorry, meat lovers, but if you want to live longer, you need to cut back.

Beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets and meat (mostly pork) is eaten on average only five times per month.

Serving sizes are 85g-115g, which is definitely a lot less than most of us get through in one sitting.

Centenarians all seem to follow a healthy, plant-based dietNetflix

6. Enjoy your evening wine

Good news for those of us who enjoy an evening tipple: People in all Blue Zones (except the Californian Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly.

Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers, Buettner claims, however, he states: “The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food.

“And no, you can’t save up all week and have 14 drinks on Saturday.”

7. Belong to a community

Buettner and his team have interviewed 263 centenarians over the years and all but five of them belonged to some faith-based community.

The denomination doesn’t seem to matter, however, attending faith-based services four times per month will add between four and 14 years to your life, research suggests.

8. Put your loved ones first

“You do you” may be the mantra for many Western communities in particular, but Blue Zoners put their families first.

“This means keeping ageing parents and grandparents nearby or in the home ([which] lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home too.)” Buettner states, as well as committing to a life partner.

It also means investing time and love in your kids, who are then more likely to care for you later on.

Elimate stress and enjoy good times with good palsNetflix

9. Surround yourself with good friends

Social networks are key. And no, we don’t mean Facebook.

The world’s longest-living people are part of friendship groups that commit to each other and encourage each other to follow healthy behaviours.

Studies suggest that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious, so if you surround yourself with happy and healthy people, you’re more likely to enjoy the same benefits.


So if we follow these “Power 9” habits, we’ll all live to 100?

Not necessarily. Buettner has conceded that “to make it to age 100, you have to have won the genetic lottery”.

However, he also stresses that “most of us have the capacity to make it well into our early 90s and largely without chronic disease” if we adopt a Blue Zones lifestyle.

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