FL: What are some key steps people can take to make their own space into a Blue Zone?
DB: Go into your cabinet right now, take all your 14-inch plates and give them away and buy 10-inch plates. The number one thing is take 5 minutes, write down the names of the people you hang out with. And ask yourself questions like: "Do these people encourage me to eat the right way? Do they encourage me to move? Do they make me feel positive or negative?" And just the act of writing that out, I think, will inform you on who you're spending your time with. Because realistically I can give people prescriptives, but they're going to read your article and they're going to forget it. But really making them realize for the first time the type of people they're hanging out with, I think is a really good exercise. And if they discover the people they hang out with tend to sit on the couch and eat chips or smoke or are toxically negative, then think about where can you go to augment your social circle. That's a big, important one, backed up by research.
If you're not volunteering, we know that people who volunteer have lower BMI, lower rates of cardiovascular disease and they have higher rates of well-being. So write down the types of things you like to do and then find a place to activate those. Put those to work in other people's lives. That is easy thing to do to live longer.
A Blue Zone tip that's easy to activate too: We know that people who eat nuts four times a week—about a handful—live two to three years longer than people who don't eat nuts. So having nuts around the house.
Go out and buy yourself a high-quality fruit bowl. Put it some prominent place, well-lit, in your kitchen, and keep it full. You will naturally consume more fruit. And we know that higher fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with higher longevity and lower rates of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
FL: What are the next places you're taking the Blue Zone Vitality Project?
DB: We've been talking to Nashville. We've been talking to Lincoln, Nebraska. We've been talking to St. Louis, Missouri. What's interesting is that all of these have come to us. Those three cities, of the 20 or so that contacted us, seem to be the most serious. I can't go into a city that doesn't want this and do it. I have to start with a city that has internal will and leadership that works well together.