During the holiday break, I had the opportunity to reflect on the health of West Virginia, and beyond.

As I have articulated previously, I believe that health is being younger biologically than we are chronologically, while disease is the opposite.

If this hypothesis is true, then looking for clues in creating health may come from places where people live long and well.

National Geographic Fellow and multiple New York Times author Dan Buetter championed this idea in five areas of the world called the "blue zones," where people live unusually long and well:

  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, CA
  • Ikaria, Greece

What are their secrets? The answer is contained in four categories:

  • Food
  • Exercise
  • Community
  • Faith/spirituality

These people eat less than others (eat until 80 percent full); they eat a plant-based diet; little processed food or sugar and a glass of wine or two a day.

Remember, calorie restriction is the only environmental intervention that extends life across species.

They exercise regularly (not at the gym or in competition), but by doing errands, seeing friends and to playing.

They are connected to people in their communities, family and friends. Many of these communities have remained largely the same for many, many years.

They also have faith and have gratitude for each day and for their lives.

They also all share "ikigai" (the reason for being), or great purpose in their lives.

We have talked about the deeply human elements in health and this information demonstrates even more that we are in large part still deeply connected to our roots and evolution as people.

Real food, freshly prepared. Movement and exercise. Positive relationships. Faith and gratitude. Purpose.

Maybe the secret to health is available to everyone.

Lets be the next blue zone area of the world.