Can Moving to a Blue Zone Cure Disease?

Dan Buettner is the author of the book, The Blue Zones and founder of Blue Zones, a longevity research foundation established to identify populations throughout the world who suffer low rates of disease and live well into their nineties and perhaps one-hundreds.

So far, Mr. Beuttner and his team have identified five communities they have labeled “Blue Zones,” areas where people are healthy, happy, and live long lives. As of today, these communities are:

  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California (in a Seventh-Day Adventist community)
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Sardinia, Italy[i][ii]

If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably read the New York Times story by Dan Beuttner titled, The Island Where People Forget to Die. It’s a fascinating account of a man named Moraitis who was born in Ikaria, Greece and moved to New York in 1943. Thirty-three years later he was diagnosed with lung cancer and given nine months to live. He was in his mid-sixties. He decided to forego popular cancer treatments and return to his island of Ikaria to die in peace. Over the course of six months, he gradually regained his strength and ambition. He reconnected with his faith, friends, family, culture, and relaxed island lifestyle. He kept on living for years and at ninety-seven years of age he was cancer free. The article doesn’t say exactly when he became cancer free, but from the sound of things, his health was being restored and cancer was being eradicated from his body within months of living in Ikaria.[iii]

I have been following these Blue Zone stories on Dr. Oz’s show and website, bluezones.com, sommunity.sw.org, and other sites on the internet. The Blue Zone goal appears to be to identify specific attributes of healthy, happiness and longevity in certain population in order that others throughout the world can learn from, copy, and attain those populations and become just as healthy and happy.

This is a worthy goal. To copy the diets and lifestyles is very possibly beneficial to many people—at least, that’s what we hope. But is this sufficient? There are many factors involved in the health of a Blue Zone. It’s not just diet, not just lifestyle; there’s when people eat, how relaxed people are when they eat, portion sizes, conversations occurring during meals, climate, weather, being outdoors, how much sunshine people get on their skin…. I could go on and on.

Has anyone already moved to a blue zone and cured his or her disease? If so, I’d like to read about it or follow someone’s online blog journey to healing in a Blue Zone. I mean, for those suffering from serious diseases, is it enough to merely copy the diets and lifestyles of Blue Zone peoples and remain living in one’s same city or town? It’s the best most of us can do, I know, but don’t you think it might be prudent to conduct a grand experiment with volunteers who are willing to move to various Blue Zone, immerse themselves in the five distinct cultures, and possibly experience a higher than average chance of healing?

Of course, there are questions to be answered regarding such an experiment (not the least of which is cost), but I’ll save those questions for a future blog and leave you to mull over the idea for a while. I, for one, would love to move to a Blue Zone for several months to see if various health problems and issues lessened. I can dream, can’t I? And you have to admit it does sound fun! And I’m serious about those who have either lived in Blue Zones or who are living in them now. Wouldn’t it be great to hear how those people are faring health-wise?

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