How to Live Your Healthiest, Most Fulfilling Life with Dan Buettner [Episode #627]
This week’s topic is: How to Live Your Healthiest, Most Fulfilling Life with Dan Buettner
I am so excited to have my very special guest, Dan Buettner, who is an explorer, National Geographic Fellow, award-winning journalist and producer, New York Times bestselling author and Founder of the blue zones; places in the world where people live the longest. Listen in as Dan shares the impact our environment influences scarcity and hardship, why assessing your social network is important for your health, and how to create a healthier environment.
Living in an environment of scarcity and hardship…
The myths around your body needing meat…
How Dan’s Blue Zones Challenge book is out of the ordinary…
Assessing your current social network to impact your health in a positive way…
Creating healthier environments…
If there’s a correlation between eating meat, smoking and lung disease…
About Dan Buettner
Dan Buettner is an explorer, National Geographic Fellow, award-winning journalist and producer, and New York Times bestselling author. He discovered the five places in the world – dubbed blue zones hotspots – where people live the longest, healthiest lives. His new book “The Blue Zones Challenge: A 4-Week Plan for a Longer Better Life” is a four-week guide and year-long sustainability program to jump-start your journey to better health, happiness, less stress, and longer life. Buettner also holds three Guinness World Records in distance cycling.
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Note: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate. This is due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
Kimberly (00:01): Hi Beauties. And welcome back to our Monday interview podcast, where we have one of my favorite repeat guests. We have the brilliant Dan Buettner, who is a national geographic fellow award, winning journalist and producer number one, New York times bestselling author and founder of the blue zones. The places in the world where people live the longest today, he is talking about a very different angle that is not ever talked about in order to live our healthiest, most fulfilling lives. And I can’t wait to get into it today. I’m going to tease it a little bit because it’s something I’ve never really, um, I’ve never heard about this angle, talked about in health books. And so Dan really gets into it. And it’s the focus of his new book. The blue zones challenge. So cannot wait for our interview today and to share it with you. But before we get into it, I want to give a shout out to our fan of the week.
Fan of the Week
Kimberly (00:58): Her name is NurseCary, and she writes life-changing, I’ve been listening to Kimberly for years, and now a part of her Solluna community. I never miss an episode. She is so smart and inspiring well NurseCary, thank you so much. My love for being part of our community. Thank you so much for your wonderful review. It truly means the world and I hope we get to meet one day in person and beauties for your chance to also be shouted out as a fan of the week. Please just take one minute out of your day, hop on over to iTunes and leave us a review. It is such an amazing, powerful way to support the show. It’s absolutely free. So thank you so much in advance. And if you screenshot your review and send it over to or email@example.com, we will share with you our seven self-love affirmation series, a program for helping to reshape and expand you out of your limiting beliefs.
Kimberly (01:56): Also want to announce now at the top of our show that we are in the pre-sale period of my new book, you are more than you think you are practical enlightenment for everyday life. So if you haven’t yet already checked out our presale campaign, please order your book today. You can start reading the first two chapters of the book today, and you’ll also get invited into our looped event, which is going to be an amazing community event with questions and meditation and more. And if you get two or more copies, you will also get for free an immediate access to our beyond fear, awakening, freedom to live your best life course, which is very full and has a lot of information to help elevate you past your fear, into breaking, you know, breaking through perceived limitations and barriers in order to create your most amazing life in different areas in love and prosperity in creativity and so on. All right, all that being said, let’s get right into our interview today with the amazing Dan Buettner.
Interview with Dan Buettner
Kimberly: 00:05 Dan, it’s so exciting to have you back. Thank you for coming back to talk to us again. We always love having you here.
Dan: 00:12 Well, maybe I begged beyond your podcast. What do you mean the other way around?
Kimberly: 00:17 Well, before we start talking about the, you know, the new book, I want to talk a little bit about, um, blue zones kitchen, because the last time I saw you was at the book launch, which is at crossroads, which is like right before the pandemic started, right before things started to get so weird or didn’t see anybody for like years, but you were, I think one of the last people I saw Dan,
Dan: 00:41 Well, I don’t know whether to say I’m sorry, or I’m glad, but, but it, when that was a fun night and, uh, amazing people from the plant-based community converged in, I think one of the better restaurants in, uh, in Los Angeles, if not the world, at least when it comes to eating plant-based food. No,
Kimberly: 01:01 It was, it was amazing. And I have to tell this story because, um, because you, you are one of the things I love about you, Dan, is that you’re so humble. You’re sound you’re so down to earth. So I remember talking to you and being like, how’s the book going? You’re like, I think it’s going pretty well. And then I talked to someone else, like on your team. And they were like, uh, we sold like 75,000 copies already this week. It’s number one, New York times, best seller. So I knew you would never say this about, you know, yourself and your work, but I just want to acknowledge to everybody listening, how incredible this amazing work, which is helping people live healthier and feel better and have healthier, longer lives is, is reaching so many people it’s really resonating. And it’s amazing.
Dan: 01:48 Thank you so much for saying that it’s a, well, you know, it’s, um, it’s, it’s, it’s, um, it’s my passion and, and, uh, uh, books like that are the, by-product the idea behind Blue’s own kitchen. You know, um, I started out 15 years ago to reverse engineer longevity and found these five areas where people are living the longest and discovered their common denominators, which I think point us in a really strong direction for what we might want to be doing. If we want to live longer. Of course, one of them is eating a whole plant-based diet and, um, the blue zone kitchen captures, you know, it’s, it’s equal parts, science, writing, national geographic photography and recipes. So I actually went up into the villages in blue zones, talk to 80, 90, a hundred year old women who are the keepers of this 500 year old food tradition and their great genius.
Dan: 02:43 Kimberly is taking basic hesitant food beans, grains, greens, tubers nuts, and making them taste delicious because as you well know, and I know you’re a big, uh, warrior in, uh, and, and, and evangelizing the plant-based message, but you know, a few percent of people will care about animals. A few percent of people care about the environment. A few percent of people care that eating plant based is good for their health, but if you can make plant-based food tastes as good or better than meat, cheese, and eggs, you don’t have to sell it. It comes naturally. And that’s part of the secret of crossroads. And I think that’s, that was what I was trying to achieve with blue zones, kitchen, and, you know, capture the genius, the culinary genius of blue zones and put it in a book that’s easy to use and beautiful.
Kimberly: 03:42 It certainly is beautiful. And one thing too, is that it’s very accessible. You talked about peasant food, so it’s, it’s simple. Like I don’t, you know, I get a lot of recipe books sent to me and all around and yours is in my kitchen because I can open up to any recipe and no, I don’t have to devote my whole day doing like 50 steps and getting all these different processes. It’s so amazing that this magic and, you know, using the ingredients mean these basic techniques, um, it’s accessible, which I think is key to putting this all into practice.
Dan: 04:14 Well, these people in the blue zone, they’re not fussy. They were, this is quotidian food to people eat every day. Uh, there are a few maybe Salvatore dishes in there, but most of them are take less than 20 minutes to make a lot of bean recipes. I, you know, as, as you may know, I’m the big bean evangelizer and I believe the health of America will arrive on the boat on a bicycle, Kerry and beans. And, um, the great genius of blue zones is they know how to make beans, tastes delicious and various soups and stews and salads and even main courses. And, and, um, you know, people, you know, I worked with about 50 cities in America and I get here all the time. I can’t afford to eat healthy because I can’t go to whole foods and buy organic. And the reality is if you can afford rice and beans or beans and tortilla or pasta for Jolie or some tofu, eh, man, you, you have all the protein you need most of the nutrients, probably 95% of the nutrients you need just with, with beans and a grain. And, um, you know, yes, you need greens once in a while. You need vitamin B12 as you well know, which is easy to supplement. It’s the only supplement I I’m in favor of. But, uh, once you have that, you’re, you know, you’re golden. You don’t have to remember, you don’t have to spend a bunch of money on weight Watchers. Um, yeah.
Kimberly: 05:41 And I think that, that brings up a big point because, you know, besides people saying, oh, I can’t, I can’t afford, I can’t go to whole foods. I like your, like your voice. They’re dead. Another thing that people say is it’s so confusing because there’s all these diets out there and there’s all this stuff. And it gets like very specific. If you’re trying to follow like paleo, you’re trying to do this, like, you know, 21 day program. And it goes to this and this, it gets very heady. And I think one of the reasons people connect, one of the reasons I connect so deeply to your work is it’s from the people you’re studying real people and how they live. It’s not just okay, this, you know, a bunch of like, you know, bio hackery stuff, studies that people don’t really understand. And these numbers and these charts it’s saying, no, no, no, no. Look, this culture is a group of real humans and this is what they’re eating, and this is how they’re living. And this is how they’re connecting as a community. And as people we relate to people. So that immediately cuts through this confusion of these very heady, you know, just the science.
Living in an environment of scarcity and hardship
Dan: 06:47 Well, I’m coming to you now from south beach, you know, and right up the street, they have the south beach diet, which is basically, um, which I don’t believe in by the way, but, but, um, a lot of these diets are developed and in the offices of doctors or, or marketeers and, and, um, uh, or as a result of, of, of trying to, uh, promote certain nutrients. And I think we start getting in trouble when you low fat or high protein, no carb, no carb. And that’s not the way we evolved. We evolved humans have been on this planet for about 25,000 generations, 99 and a half percent of them. Uh, we were living in an environment of scarcity and hardship and there people didn’t, our ancestors didn’t pull wrapper off of food. It wasn’t processed. Uh, if they ate meat, it was rare. It was a celebratory food, or it was a necessity.
Dan: 07:52 Most of what fueled our ancestors were, uh, when did it well, roots and tubers and things you could gather, uh, until about 11,000 years ago. And then the very first cultivated crops were lentils out of the fertile Crescent in Turkey. What is today? Turkey, lentils, and wheat grain. And that is, that is how we evolved the last 11,000 years. And, you know, we, we, if you want a pretty good idea of what you ought to be doing, look at what our ancestors have done for thousands of years and that, you know, you can kind of forget the rest
Kimberly: 08:33 Well. And what would you say to those, you know, the, the paleo people that talk about, you know, the, the, the tools and the hunting, the animals, and eating mostly, or eating a lot of meat. I know this is probably something that a lot,
Dan: 08:46 If you, if you look at the paleolithic time humans, we’re not eating a lot of meat, that they were eating mostly tubers and seeds and nuts and berries and things that they could forage, uh, maybe, maybe some insects, uh, occasionally there was a hunter and a kill, um, but they didn’t have refrigeration. So that meat had to be consumed there right then and there. So they may have, they may have gorged on meat, you know, after a kill, but th the next few days they weren’t sitting around eating meat. And, um, most of the, the, the, uh, dietary studies I’ve done, uh, uh, I’ve seen a pivotal that the times they’re overwhelmingly eating, plant-based still, yes.
Kimberly: 09:33 And there’s so much research that shows that. So again, it just shows to like that the marketing of, of taking something and sort of fitting it into, into a diet, into something that, um, you know, it gets picked up by the media, and then it gets misinterpreted. When in actuality, it’s not really the way it was in those environments. In that time,
Dan: 09:53 We average American think about this w uh, consumes about 260 pounds of meat a year. That is an absurd amount of meat. Nobody never maybe king Henry, the eighth, who is obese and, and, uh, uh, had goiters. And maybe he, uh, maybe he ate that much meat, but that’s not never been something done in human history. Uh, we consume about 24, uh, uh, extra teaspoons of sugar of added sugar every day. Uh, that’s not how humans evolve. We may be found honey occasionally, or, or, you know, in these blue zones, there may be eating seven teaspoons of added sugar, most, mostly, uh, because, and celebratory times they’ll, they’ll enjoy some cake or something like that. And dairy dairy is just absurd. I mean, dairy wasn’t part of the human experience until about 10,000 years ago. And some, uh, some people have developed, uh, the, um, uh, enzymes necessary to digest. A lot of most people, a lot of people can’t even digest. We’re not, we’re not meant to suck on the, the glands of other species and metabolize their baby’s milk. And, uh, it’s not good for us. It’s not something that we see in any of the blue zones, an insignificant amount. And, um, it’s Americans consume about 400 pounds of dairy a year, which is also absurd where we’ve been duped into thinking it’s good for us, and it’s not.
Kimberly: 11:24 And one thing about the blue zones that I love as well is how, um, they’re spread across the world. So I love that they know it’s between Japan and Costa Rica and Europe and California. And so, you know, what would you say to somebody, Dan? Cause I get this question too, when someone says, oh, well, I tried to be plant-based. And I just think my by my body type needs some meat, you know, everybody’s, body’s different. I think I have a body type where I actually need meat. What’d he say to that?
The myths around your body needing meat
Dan: 11:54 Well, I’ve heard alcoholics say they, they need, uh, they need a beer. You know, it’s just not true. I mean, it may taste good going down and they may be, feel better for an hour or two. But, um, if they’re, if they’re eating mostly a animal-based diet, uh, their gut is not getting enough fiber, which means their immune system is an optimally fine too. They’re probably dealing with system-wide inflammation. They probably don’t digestive system isn’t moving through with regularity. Their mortality rate is there. Their chances of dying in any given year is probably 20% greater chance of heart disease. It’s just, it’s just the myth. It’s a myth to justify eating what tastes good to them.
Kimberly: 12:44 Exactly. And again, taking it back to the people, taking it back to your work, which is looking at these communities all around the world. You know, they say, oh, that people have different body types and different continents or whatever, but there is this through-line of eating these natural foods, this peasant food, these plant foods. So if that were true, that different body types needed a certain amount of meat to thrive. Then we would see that in the, in the, you know, the long-term cultural research, I imagine.
Dan: 13:11 Uh, so, you know, I mean, uh, journalistic integrity, they do eat some meat in blue sharks, but on average, no five times a month. So maybe once a week, maybe a little bit more than once a week. And, and, and a piece of meat, the size of a deck of cards it’s used as a condiment. And, you know, these people were living in areas where they, they had a hard time aggregating enough calories to survive, and their goats, sheep sometimes did that for them. Um, but it wasn’t this wholesale industrial slaughter, uh, cruelty that, that, um, goes on in our country. And, um, you know, I mean, if all Americans ate meat five times a month, we, uh, instead of what we do 260 pounds a year, we probably wouldn’t have a problem. Um, there’d be a heck of a lot less cruelty. The, the, um, our carbon footprint from, from animal based agriculture contributes about 37% of all greenhouse gases. So, uh, you know, most of that would go away. And, um, you know, I look at meat as a lot like radiation, we know a lot will kill you. That’s manifest, uh, we don’t know the safe level, but probably a little bit exposure doesn’t hurt you. And by the way, we don’t know if people in the blue zones lived a long time because of the meat or in spite of the meat thing. We just don’t know
Kimberly: 14:42 [inaudible]. So let’s talk for a moment about your new book, Dan Blue Zones Challenge, which I love the practicality of it, but you open up the, in a very interesting way. When I started reading it, I was like, wow, you talk about these challenges. And then you say, it’s not your fault. And then we talk about, you know, the rise of fast food and you know, all the different influences around us. Can you, can you talk about that in the sort of, you know, in doc,
How Dan’s Blue Zones Challenge book is out of the ordinary
Dan: 15:10 I opened the book by saying, if you, if you are overweight and unhealthy in America, it’s probably not your fault. And the reason I say that is because if you look at, uh, the data from 1980, uh, many of us were alive then, um, the re that we had about one third, the rate of obesity, and about one seventh, the rate of diabetes. Now let’s think about that for a moment, is that because people in 1980 had better diets or because they were more disciplined or because they had better sense of individual responsibility or they’re better people, no, what’s changed. Well, what’s changed is we have about 25 times more fast food restaurants now than we do. Then over 50% of all retail outlets in this country sell junk food. You cannot, uh, get a prescription filled or, or, uh, get your tires changed without being round to route it by a gauntlet of sugary snacks are slim Jims or, or, um, salty snacks or soda pops.
Dan: 16:18 So the core tenant in blue zones and places where people are making it to age 100 at 10 times, the rate we are with a fraction of the rate of chronic disease. It’s not because they try, it’s not because they have better diets, a better discipline. Uh it’s simply because they live in an environment where the healthy choices, the easy choice, they’re not expected to always remember the right thing to eat or think about, you know, the food and the Blue’s own kitchen is what people eat every day, because whole plant-based food is cheapest. It’s most accessible. Their kitchens are set up, so it’s easy to make, and they have time on a recipes to make it taste delicious. So the whole blue zone challenge, um, takes the blueprint of a blue zone and transfers it to your home and your life. So we do challenge people to go whole food plant-based for four weeks.
Dan: 17:18 And by the way, if you succeed at that within one day, you’ll feel more energetic within three days, you’ll sleep better within about a week. Your digestive system will work better. You know, food will flow through you with greater, um, uh, regularity, as it were within three weeks. Your mortality rate drops by 10%, no dry drops by 10%. So does your chance of a heart disease, uh, and many cancers of the GI by 10% in just three weeks, you’re more productive. Your mind is clear and within four weeks you should lose between five and eight pounds. Wow. Trying, uh, and that should, there’s a good research behind that, but just going whole food plant based. But rather than trying to tell people, you know, you gotta remember to do this or, or, um, find the discipline. Um, we show people how to set up their social network, their home, their kitchen, their workplace, and to a certain extent, their internal environment, so that the healthy choices mindless. So we’re setting people up for success rather than expecting them to have superhero powers.
Kimberly: 18:31 Well, I have to say, this is the first time that I’ve seen a book laid out this way. That’s taking the environment part, because usually, usually I loved blue zone kitchens, as you know, I have copies all over the place, but it is a set of recipes. And so it kind of leaves it to that person to, you know, do this sometimes and do this versus blue zones challenges as practical as it gets. And I think sometimes we get so busy, we need to be told what to do and how to set things up in order to create that, um, that pathway forward, it’s like setting up a meditation practice. It’s good to have one seat. You have your cushion there. You know, it’s, it’s a quieter environment. You just kinda know when you, when you go, you can drop in it, it supports the energy of it. And then the environment is everything set and setting.
Dan: 19:19 It really is. And, and there are measurable difference in your behavior, depending on how you set up your environment. For example, a lot of us have a toaster on the kitchen counter. I don’t, uh, because I know that people have a toaster on a, on a kitchen counter after two years, they weigh about six pounds more than, uh, a, another cohort of people that have taken that toaster off. Why is that? Because we, most of us are in what I call a seafood diet. We, we see food we eat. And when we walk by our kitchen and we see a toaster reminds us, oh, I want to put something delicious in that toaster. And most of what comes out of a toaster, it’s not all that healthy for us. Pop tarts, English muffins, most breads crap. Um, same with junk food a lot. You know, I don’t believe in depriving yourself of treats, but if the treats are sitting out every time we walked through the kitchen, we’re tempted to eat it.
Dan: 20:23 And most of the time we’re going to succumb to that temptation as opposed to establishing a junk food drawer, which is out of the way I have to stoop down to open it, or it’s around the corner of the pantry. Uh, you can still treat yourself occasionally, but you do it. Intentionally research shows that if you have a TV in your kitchen, we tend to eat at the pace of whatever TV show we’re eating. Whereas if there’s no TV show going, we eat much slower. And there’s a much better chance that that signal fall, uh, has the time to travel from our bellies to our brains, to tell us, to stop eating. Whereas if we’re eating mindlessly to friends or, or Seinfeld or whatever people are watching these days, uh, and over time, that makes a vast difference in how much we consume, how much we weigh in our chances for chronic disease.
Kimberly: 21:17 Well, and, and amazing. And I, again, I just love it. It’s very practical. Put the traits here, take the toaster off. It’s not this sort of like big theory stuff that people can’t really implement in their lives. And one of the things you talk about with environment is this aspect of community. And right at the beginning of the book, you talk about, Hey, there isn’t this loneliness epidemic in these cultures because they step out of their house and they run into their neighbors, or they see them at church or gatherings. But, well, what about someone saying, oh, I want to implement this challenge, but my family members are not supportive. Or my spouse doesn’t is not on board to eat this way, or my kids are resistant or whatever it is. What if someone doesn’t feel like they have that community support right now?
How to assess your current social network to impact your health in a positive way
Dan: 22:01 Well, the most, the most powerful thing you can do, where we all have the power to build our own community, our families may be recalcitrant, but, um, we know that obesity loneliness, drug use alcohol use, um, even happiness is con measurably contagious. This is actually the work of Nicholas Christakis. Who’s now in Yale, originally of Harvard. So if your three best friends are obese, there’s 150% better chance that you’re going to be overweight yourself. Wow. Uh, one of the things we ask people to do, and we give them pretty explicit instructions that how to do this is to re build your immediate social network. We take a word from Okinawa, the MOA M O AI building your own Moai. If your three best friends idea of recreation is playing pickleball or walking or gardening, if they, they are keep your mind engaged. If you can have a meaningful conversation with them, uh, if they’re vegetarian or vegan, that is all measurably contagious, you do not have to forget about, is it, is it easy to go out and find three new healthy friends?
Dan: 23:19 No, but I argue it is the most powerful lasting thing you can do to impact your health. You Kimberly, you and I are friends. We don’t get to see each other enough, but when I go over to your house, I am guaranteed. I’m going to have a delicious plant-based meal. When you come over to mind, you can be sure when, when we hang out, we’re going to have meaningful conversations. I mean, one of the healthiest decisions I could make is to be friends with you and your family. And, um, and conversely, you know, if we hang out with people, sit around in the backyard and barbecue, baby back ribs and burgers, guess what? We’re going to be eating for friends that are, want to watch TV, guess what we’re going to be doing. So I wouldn’t tell you to dump your old friends, but I will tell you during the four week challenge, we’re going to help you assess your current social network. And we’re going to help you rebuild in a lasting way to measurably impact your health.
Kimberly: 24:18 Wow. And again, this is the first time in any sort of health book. I’ve even heard of anybody talking about this in such a, a practical way. And it makes total sense because I think that’s such a stumbling block for people. They get excited and then the naysayers in their circle or their family kind of like, you know, um, yeah, criticize the idea or just consider to take the spark out of it. So, um, wow. Um, now I want to talk about some of these communities that you work at, that you have worked with, which are, you know, again, just normal, regular people. They don’t have, you know, tremendous amount of money. They’re not all, you know, rich people. They don’t have all this extra time on their hands and they’ve been able to implement these lifestyle changes. And you talk about when I think it was in Florida or somewhere where they went from being the 73rd, most unhealthy county to like skyrocketing up. Can you talk about what you’ve seen? Not just in the blue zones, but with everyday people in America, you know, countries here in the west places here in the west, where people are taking these principles that have been in these cultures for generations and what you’re seeing nowadays, people breaking habits away from fast food, people just changing things.
Creating healthier environments
Dan: 25:30 Well, and again, in blue zones, people aren’t mindfully doing anything. They’re not trying to change their habits. They’re just living their life in a super healthy environment. So what we try to do is make, uh, environments healthier. So to date, we have now worked with 60 American cities, including three, right near you, or most of Manhattan and Redondo beach, Naples, Florida near me, Fort worth Texas, the whole state of Hawaii, the whole state of, uh, of Iowa. And our approach is three prong. So we have one team that works with city council to help them adopt the best policies, favoring, healthy food, over junk food and reducing junk food market marketing and advertising, um, to adopt the best built environment policies or active livings to favor the pedestrian and cyclist over the motorist. So people are moving naturally all day long and favor the non-smoker over the smoker.
Dan: 26:32 The second team deploys, a blue zone certification for schools, restaurants, grocery stores, workplaces, and churches, and then a third team, uh, endeavors to get 15% of the population as individuals to take the blue zone challenge. And we’re typically work in a city for five years and we don’t, you know, Fort worth Texas is our biggest, so far of million people. We spend very little time trying to get a million people to change their minds. But what we did is through policy places and people is get that reshape that environment. So we’re nudging people into moving more, eating less 80 more plant-based foods when they do eat a knowing and living their sense of purpose and socializing. And over the course of five years, and by the way, this was measured by Gallop, not us, uh, by gal, we, they were the near the bottom of the 160, uh, one of the most unhealthy, um, [inaudible] or, uh, sort of cities in the country.
Dan: 27:41 We brought them up to, uh, right in the middle of the pack. Uh, we lowered the obesity rate by about 6% lower smoking rates by about a 5% and save that. And you say your big deal 6%, but you drop obesity 6% in a city of a million people that avoids about 30,000 heart attacks a year. Every heart attack costs $120,000. So you can do the math. It eliminates about 19,000 cases of type two diabetes. Every case of diabetes costs about the impair or who somebody’s $72,000 per year. Um, so, uh, by just 6% drop that healthcare savings amount to about a quarter of a billion dollars a year, and my company just takes a percentage of savings. And, um, it’s doing very well. We’re here in Miami right now, and it looks like Miami might come the next blue zone project city. And it’s a completely different new tech because it’s not guilty and people you’re eating meat and cheese and eggs and sweets and not getting enough exercise, rather it just reshapes the environment to set people up for success. And that’s nobody else’s thinking that way that I know of. And, um, we’re, we’re, we’re systematically doing it for cities. And now with this booze zone challenge book where we’ve condensed it in to sort of a handbook for individuals to take what we’ve been doing in cities for 12 years and put it to work in your home and your family life.
Kimberly: 29:22 Amazing. I have not heard of anything, anything even remotely like this, Dan. So it’s so exciting that you’re putting this out. And also I love the clarity. I know, again, back to this confusion, I think one of the biggest challenges for people is I don’t get it. Like, I’m confused, like this is contradictory or like, eh, and then this is saying, okay, look, here’s, you know what the community’s like, these are the through lines we’ve seen. This is what’s beneficial and here’s what you do. And it’s very clear. And then world that’s like increasingly becoming more complicated. I think there’s more thrown at us. There’s something very relaxing to our nervous system. I think just to be held and to say, no, this is how you set it up. Very simple and very clear. It’s sort of like the, the food, which is simple and healthy and delicious, but there’s this simplicity. I think that is so needed today to make enact great change. Sometimes we think things have to be really complicated and have all this stuff, but actually it’s the simplicity in the end that I think is going to win hearts and health.
Dan: 30:24 You know, you just nailed it. That’s exactly right. Um, you know, I you’ve heard of ancil keys. Maybe ancil keys is credited with identifying the Mediterranean diet. Uh, he’s also developed K rations. People don’t realize that, but, um, I happened to know the, his, the, the, uh, a scientist who ran his lab. His name is Henry Blackburn. He’s 95 years old. I still live in Minnesota. And he told me that after doing what’s called the seven countries study that established that people in Northern Europe were eating a lot of animal products were dying of heart disease at much higher rates than people living in Italy and Southern France in Southern Greece where eating a Mediterranean diet, which was largely plant-based. But his original finding is the correlation was between animal protein or meat, meat, cheese, and eggs and heart disease. It was a clear, the more meat, cheese and meat eggs you ate the higher your heart disease and the more plant-based food you ate the lower ones.
Dan: 31:31 But at the time as a true academic, he couldn’t just come out and say, well, if you eat more meat, you get a heart and you get you’re more likely had heart attacks. He had to find the micronutrients. He was under academic pressure, and that academic pressure was to identify saturated fat. So he did make the connection between saturated fat cholesterol and then heart disease, which at the end of the day, confused people, because the message that came out of it was, well, we have to eat low fat, and then everything went low fat and, and manufacturers just piled in the sugar to replace the fat. So it would be palatable for people, but if you just kept it to the simple message, eat mostly plants, um, and, and, uh, uh, plants that you recognize, that’s all that it takes. People would be healthier.
Kimberly: 32:24 You use real language, use language that people understand. And also, I even feel like the Mediterranean diet when it came out, also confused people cause people picked apart different things that resonated. I remember people being like, oh, this tells us we shouldn’t have a lot of olive oil. So it was people we’re using a lot of oil, olive oil. People were like, oh, we have to eat more fish than me. And, um, I just remember it, wasn’t like a really clear thing that people were able to grasp from it.
Dan: 32:52 You’re right. And, and, uh, the other problem with it is, you know, depending whether you’re in Spain or France or Italy or Greece or Northern Africa, uh, the Mediterranean diet is different in all those places made different foods. So it’s very hard to sum up. It’s very hard to give people I’ve learned a long time ago, working with populations that you have to be blazingly clear and simple and give people very black and white messages, because if it’s gray, you know, I used to, I mean, I’m, you know, I wear two hats, one hat, I’m a national geographic, uh, journalist and fell. And the other hat is I run a blue zones. And, um, the journalists in meat made me be completely clear with people that in blue zones, they ate some meat five times a month and that they, the meat that they usually it was pork.
Dan: 33:54 Uh, but I know that we don’t know if they live a long time because of that pork or despite before. But as soon as you tell people that they say, well, pork in the blue zones, I can have bacon for breakfast, sausage for lunch, and a pork chop that’s lose on food. So that’s why I’ve chosen in all of my books, blue zone, kitchen, and blue zone challenge. And I got another one loose on American kitchen coming out next year. I have chosen to only highlight whole food. Plant-based um, we know from the Adventists, which are the American loosen people that, um, the longest lived Americans are vegans or pescatarians, but we’re essentially vegans who had a little bit of fish. Um, but the meat eaters, they they’re significantly live fewer years have hired lung cancer, which I found bizarre higher rates of heart disease. Um, and also interestingly, if you take 50,000 vegans and 50,000 meters, the vegans on average weigh 20 pounds less. Wow. So rather than like having to follow some diet, which no people do just become hopeful plant-based and you’re going to weigh 20 pounds less. You’re likely to be 20 pounds less than your meat eating neighbors. And
Dan: 35:18 So you have to, yeah. People want to lose weight, especially when they live near you in Los Angeles, beautiful people.
Kimberly: 35:26 It’s so it’s so simple. And you know, for me that, um, in the past, I had tried all these different diets and I was struggling with my weight, um, when I became plant-based and not only just plant-based Dan, but a big part that I talk about is a simplified, my meals, sort of like this, you know, the, the simple peasant food it’d be just became easier for me to digest. My bloating went down, everything just improved. It was simple, and it was whole food based. And I wasn’t trying to lose weight, but everything just sort of balanced. I think there’s a line from, um, one of T Colin Campbell’s books where he says, just eat whole foods and your body does the math. It doesn’t have to be big formulas. Um, but let’s go back to the, the lung disease, the, the, the lung cancer part for a minute is what does that come from? Is there a correlation between eating meat and smoking, or is there some sort of like, what is, what the,
If there’s a correlation between eating meat, smoking and lung disease
Dan: 36:17 It might be? Um, you know, most of the most interesting correlation was between fruit consumption and lung cancer. I can’t explore it because it’s epidemiology comes from the Adventist health study, but the people eating the most fruit at the lowest incidence of lung cancer. And it may be because fruit eaters are less likely to smoke, um, or it may be there’s something protective, uh, in fruit, uh, for our lungs. But, you know, that’s, that’s all I need to know to, to, uh, increase my fruit consumption,
Kimberly: 36:55 Love it. I’m a huge, huge, huge fruit eater too. Dan, I eat so much fruit every day. And again, back to this idea where people focus on the wrong thing, some people are so scared to eat bananas because of the sugar. Right. Versus, yeah.
Dan: 37:10 But as they’re also full of a soluble fiber potassium and, and, um, you know, that slows the, the absorption of the sugar. It’s a very different animal. I don’t know, maybe a, a, a banana as the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar or something like that. If you eat a teaspoon of sugar, it immediately spikes your insulin and wreaks havoc on your organs. But if you had a banana, it doesn’t happen as fast. It’s the, the, the soluble fiber mutes, the, uh, insulin response or the glycemic index. And it’s just, uh, it’s just not as bad for you as you think.
Kimberly: 37:46 Yeah. Um, so two practical questions, um, that I think, you know, are important to show the, what we need to focus on the first one is on salt. So we’re talking about very simple peasant food, and some people may think, well, in order to make it taste good, I need to add salt to my beans, salt, to my greens or whatever. What do you think about the role of salt? What is the role of salt in the blue zones, challenge
Dan: 38:13 Salt as a shortcut, uh, to make things taste better. There are, there are easier, there are much healthier ways to add richness. Um, so it’s a flavor enhancer. There’s a lot of other ways to enhance flavor. First of all, tomatoes, believe it or not add umami. So adding a little bit of tomato paste, if you’re doing a super stew celery also as a flavor. So adding more salary than the recipe calls, I always double the amount of recipe using herbs in the blue zone. They’re using a [inaudible] or, um, Rosemary, Sage, uh, using more herbs than the recipe using more red pepper. Um, I rather than using salt, like I make a pretty famous Sardinian minestrone, which everybody I know loves it. Um, I use vegetable broth rather than salt. So that’s going to add the richness. So there’s a lot of ways to, uh, like I said, you have to make food taste delicious, but there’s a lot of ways to replay, to add the richness without having to just throw salt in,
Kimberly: 39:20 But we can use a little salt, but you’re saying rely on it. Yeah.
Dan: 39:25 Yeah. I mean, I think most vegans can eat a lot more salt than mediators are because they, their, their arteries are a lot more supple because they’re not lined with plaque. Uh, you know, the salt, I mean, rising your blood pressure with salt becomes lethal when you combine it with stiff arteries. Cause that’s when you have a stroke or you put all that pressure on your heart, but if you have supple arteries, uh, uh, that most vegans do, uh, you have this sort of pliability that can handle a surge in blood pressure that occasioned by salt, it’s less likely those arteries are gonna burst less likely you’re putting extra pressure on your heart. Um, so it was a bunch of salt. Good for you. No, but is it as bad for you as meat over time? I don’t think so.
Kimberly: 40:16 [inaudible] and, and one more question when people are going through this challenge and they’re thinking, okay, I have to, you know, want to be plant-based now I know part of it is whole food based, but what if people are used to eating the sausages and the burgers? What about the in-between replacements? Like the beyond burgers or the, you know, plant-based cheeses as a replacement? What’s your opinion on doing that?
Dan: 40:39 Well, I think plant-based cheeses are overwhelmingly very healthy. Um, they’re, they’re just, you know, nut milk. Usually that’s been inoculated with, with, um, um, uh, bacteria to mimic cheese and often than maybe a little bit high in sodium, uh, the, the, you know, I wouldn’t call the impossible burgers healthy, uh, but I will say it’s there it’s a gateway. And it gets people thinking about eating plant-based food. It gives them a treat, it gets them off of meat. And therefore, I, I, you know, I, I think it’s, it’s not part of the blue zone diet, but it’s not something that I would condemn either.
Kimberly: 41:22 Yeah, yeah. I can fit in. Well, amazing. Dan, thank you so much. And once again, for putting out an incredible piece of work, this one is very, I just say with all the things you creative, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this whole environmental perspective, I think is going to really hit home for so many people. It’s hitting a different angle, opening up a pass away that I think has not been seen before. So thank you so much, Dan, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom new book out. Now, the blue zones challenge a four week plan for a longer, better life. And I liked the better part cause we want to just live life. We want to have a better, more fulfilling, energetic life.
Dan: 42:07 You don’t want a long suffering life, longer miserable. And by the way, if any of your, um, um, P people listening to have follow-up questions, I’m really good at answering them. My handle is at Dan Buettner, uh, on Instagram and, and, um, I, I, I love hearing from people and I like love answering their questions. So anything I didn’t cover here and you want to ask, that’s what I’m here for.
Kimberly: 42:35 I do love your Instagram. You’ll have these little knobs, these little nuggets, very interesting pizza pieces of value that come up. And I do see you really answering people’s questions. So again, so authentic. So from the heart so humble and so helping us all. So thank you again so much for being here with us, we will link loves to the show notes. Also Dan’s website is danbuettner.com. We will link directly to it, but please check out this new book, the Blue Zones Challenge.
Kimberly (03:04): All right, loves. I hope you enjoy today’s interview as much as I enjoy chatting with Dan so much just health elevating joy, elevating information in his work and his research. So please do check out the book blue zones challenge. Please check out our show notes as firstname.lastname@example.org. We will have other links to other podcasts. I think you would enjoy other recipes, meditations and so on. Also please do check out the new book, which is also part of the site. Now you are more than you think you are. We are in our presale campaign and you do not have to wait to read the book. You pre-order the book today. You could start reading the book today, so check it all out there. I’m also on social at underscore Kimberly Snyder, sending you so much love and see you back here Thursday for our next Q&A podcast.