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Customer Review

324 of 349 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just yogurt and olive oil, March 27, 2008
This review is from: The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest (Hardcover)
Back in the 50's, it was the Hunza people who the were exemplars of longlived folk in popular literature about healthy living. The Hunza valley is popularly believed to be the inspiration for Shangri-la, the place of the immortals in James Hilton's novel "Lost Horizon." The Hunza live in high altitude, eat whole grains, and this was the model for much of health food lore in the 50's. Then there were the Georgians, famous in the 80's, whose long life was attributed to the consumption of yogurt. Now it's the Okinawans, Mediterraneans and Costa Ricans who have the secret of long life.

The "Blue Zone" is how these areas with a high percentage of centenarians is designated. In this book, the author combines lessons from various zones around the world. In this way, not only are the different cultures described, but the commonalities are easily derived from the chapters. And they are hardly surprising, but it's great to have them all in one book because you can see that it's not yogurt or fermented mare's milk or a diet rich in tofu and fermented bean paste and fish--it's healthy habits. They are pretty much (no surprise here), a diet including plenty of fresh, unchilled water, lots of vegetables, limited meat and fats and sweets, and the habit of hard farm work or walking and exercise and having a richly entwined family life and close group of friends--a support system. (Doesn't the Bible say "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you." Exodus 20:12)

This book is excellent not only for the interesting anthropological information, but because you can see that long life is really something that is a matter of habits and practices, not just eating a bowl of yogurt or using olive oil instead of butter.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 24, 2008 10:17:37 PM PDT
This is an excellent review, concise and informative.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 24, 2010 4:24:56 AM PDT
R. M. Wallis says:
The final sentence is a particularly inspiring thought.

Posted on Apr 7, 2015 9:08:52 AM PDT
Dee says:
I just found out about this book after seeing the author doing an interview on TV regarding an updated version. I want to comment on the last line of the review (which I found very helpful). It's true that we (Americans) do tend to put a lot of weight into such things as eating yogurt, rather than cereals, or wheat based choices, bagels, etc., or switching to olive oil (in my case rather than vegetable oil), but I think those things can make a difference in our health in the long term. We do our best with what we have, and where we are as a society. America is suffering the consequences of industrialization and the modern life. We simply don't live the 'simple life' that these other cultures do. That lifestyle is just not available to most Americans and not how our society is structured. Some of us do have options of growing our own foods or buying from farmer's markets, and the values that go along with those choices are becoming more popular now, and I hope will flourish in years to come, but for now in the reality of who we are as a society, I think the best we can do is adopt the habits and practices that we can within our system, and try our best to implement some healthier choices. I know I'll start eating more beans after hearing this interview, and I will certainly get the new version once it comes out and see what else I can do that may increase my years on earth. Ideally a visit to Sardinia and some of the other places where good health and I'm guessing happiness and contentment are the norm.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2015 9:21:44 AM PDT
I do want to visit Sardinia, myself for the same reason. I think the rural lifestyle (with a lot of walking and lifting and moving around) has to be a big part of it, as is the diet of natural, unprocessed and local good foods, prepared well and eaten with your family.

Posted on Jun 16, 2015 10:26:13 PM PDT
Brilliant review!
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