Almost from the beginning of time, humankind has searched for the secret to longevity. Early on in ancient Greece, many mythologies centered around that of Ambrosia, a holy ‘nectar’ through which gods gained their immortality (Maaz, 2006). As mentioned in the Iliad and the Odyssey, it was believed this honey-like nectar could heal wounds, resurrect the dead and provide immortality. One of China’s earliest emperor’s, Qin Shi Haug of the Qin Dynasty, ordered a nationwide search for a potion of eternal life (“How China's first emperor,” 2017). Qin commissioned a number of alchemists to create a sort of mixture from substances such as cinnabar, jade, and hematite, as these were believed to increase longevity in the person who consumed them (“How China's first emperor,” 2017). In India, the elixir of life has many names, and Indian alchemists spent a great deal of time experimenting with mercury and other minerals in hopes to find the key to immortality (Rastogi et al., 2015). While there have been great advances throughout history to increasing longevity – worldwide life expectancy is at an all-time high – we have yet to find the elixir of life (World Health Organization, 2016). Attempts on finding the secret to a longer life can be seen throughout the rest of history in modern medicine, antibiotics, vaccines, new fad diets, and studies on happiness and purpose. One of the most recent and promising studies on increasing lifespan is the study of Blue Zones.
Blue Zones are geographic clusters that are known as longevity regions (Huang & Jacquez, 2017). These regions are seen to have a larger number and distribution of centenarians among their populations compared to the rest of the world. There are currently five Blue Zones across the globe: Ikaria, Greece, Loma Linda, California, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, Okinawa, Japan, and Sardinia, Italy. Blue Zones have become a catalyst for researchers to unlock the secret to longevity. The most well-known and extensive Blue Zone research, led by Dan Buettner and his National Geographic team, discovered that all of the Blue Zones have nine common factors (Buettner, 2012). These factors have been developed into pillars that Buettner believes are the key to a longer, healthier and happier life. The nine pillars are: 80% rule, plant slant, wine at 5, move naturally, down shift, purpose, belong, right tribe, and loved ones first. It is proposed that by incorporating these pillars into one’s life, the likelihood of living to be a centenarian increases exponentially.