There may be no literal fountain of youth, where a drink of magical water can restore you to your physical prime. But for seekers of health and longevity, there are certain areas of the world that seem almost as magical. They're called Blue Zones, and they're locations with a high concentration of people who live to be 100 years old or more.
Scientists are studying these populations, which are currently found in small communities of Costa Rica, California, Japan, and Italy. Researchers hope to uncover the secret recipe of longevity. Is it climate? Diet? Lifestyle? Genetics? Some combination of all these things?
Dr. Luke Curtsinger of Savannah Plastic Surgery is also researching these Blue Zones, specifically looking for ways to transform Savannah into a Blue Zone of health and wellness.
"When a community decides to apply Blue Zone principles, and when it has support from local institutions, you see a lot of improvement in community health," says Dr. Curtsinger. "Smoking rates decrease, blood pressure rates improve, obesity rates decline - we've seen this happen in other cities like Naples, Florida, once they adopted Blue Zone priorities."
Blue Zone communities tend to have several traits in common, like a higher percentage of people eating plant-slant diets, and communities where people exercise naturally through gardening, yard work, walking or cycling. People drink wine. They take naps. They belong to faith communities, and they live near family.
"In Blue Zone cities, employers offer health and nutrition programs, and people have opportunities for exercise, healthy food, good friend groups and community service. You make the Blue Zone choice the easy choice, and these efforts add up to healthier, happier populations," Dr. Curtsinger says.
But Blue Zone communities can't be created by just one person. "First it's a matter of education, and finding the community stakeholders who are interested in a project like this," says Dr. Curtsinger. He is now working to cultivate relationships with partners interested in seeing Savannah transformed into a Blue Zone, in what he calls "the ultimate public health project."
Dr. Curtsinger's efforts were recently featured in South Magazine, and you can click here to read the full article.
Learn more about Blue Zones at bluezones.com.