Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest,” researches the science of longevity. In his book and in a 2009 TED talk, he examined the lifestyle habits of four geographically distinct populations around the world.
All of these groups—Californian Adventists, Okinawans, Sardinians, and Costa Ricans—live to be over 100 years of age at a far greater rate than most people, or they live a dozen years longer than average. He calls the places where these groups live “blue zones.”
According to Buettner’s research, all blue-zone groups eat a vegetable-based diet. The group of Adventists in Loma Linda, California, eat plenty of legumes and greens as mentioned in the Bible. Herders living the in the highlands of Sardinia eat an unleavened whole grain bread, cheese from grass-fed animals, and a special wine.
Buettner found that low-calorie diets help in extending life, as demonstrated by a group of healthy elderly Okinawans who practice a Confucian rule of stopping eating when one is 80 percent full.
Perhaps Li’s wolfberry tea played a crucial part in his health. After hearing Li’s story, medical researchers from Britain and France conducted an in-depth study of wolfberry and found that it contains an unknown vitamin called “Vitamin X,” also known as the “beauty vitamin.” Their experiments confirmed that wolfberry inhibits the accumulation of fat and promotes new liver cells, lowers blood glucose and cholesterol, and so on.
Wolfberry performs a role of rejuvenation: It activates the brain cells and endocrine glands; enhances the secretion of hormones; and removes toxins accumulated in the blood, which can help maintain a normal function of body tissues and organs.
Researchers have found numerous benefits to regular meditation. Neuroscientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School asked two groups of stressed-out high-tech employees to either meditate over eight weeks or live as they normally do.
They found that the meditators “showed a pronounced shift in activity to the left frontal lobe,” reads a 2003 Psychology Today article. “This mental shift decreases the negative effects of stress, mild depression, and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear.”
Meditation also reduces brain shrinkage due to aging and enhances mood.
Aside from meditation, Buettner found that regularly scheduled downtime undoes inflammation, which is a reaction to stress. The Adventists in California strictly adhere to their 24-hour Sabbath and spend the time reflecting, praying, and enjoying their social circles.