Transcribe your podcast

Dressing. Dressing.


Oh, french dressing.




Oh, that's good.


I'm AJ Jacobs, and my current obsession is puzzles. And that has given birth to my new podcast, the Puzzler.


Something about Mary Poppins. Exactly.


This is fun.


You can get your daily puzzle nuggets delivered straight to your ears. Listen to the puzle every day on the iHeartRadio app. Apple podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Craig Ferguson goes in search of joy in talks with actors, doctors, stand ups and scientists. Everyone is it love, religion, drugs, money? Where do you find it? Craig Ferguson in search of joy. The celebrations, the dances, science, poetry, laughter and music of joy. Don't miss it. Joy with Craig Ferguson. Hear it now on the I Heart radio app. Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcast.


I'm here to help.


We make about 220 food decisions a day. Only 10% of them are conscious. If you're unhealthy and overweight, it's probably not your fault, and I'll tell you why. New York Times bestselling author, award winning journalist Dan, you are these five areas where people are living measurably longer. Not only is there plenty of evidence that these approaches work, but also it offers a path to longevity that's enjoyable.


Before we jump into this episode, I'd like to invite you to join this community to hear more interviews that will help you become happier, healthier, and more healed. All I want you to do is click on the subscribe button. I love your support. It's incredible to see all your comments and we're just getting started. I can't wait to go on this journey with you. Thank you so much for subscribing. It means the world to me.


The bestselling author and host the number.


One health and wellness podcast on purpose with Jay Shetty.


Hey everyone. Welcome back to on Purpose, the number one health podcast in the world. Thanks to each and every one of you that come back every week to become happier, healthier, and more healed. Now, I love sitting down with people who have deeply studied, obsessed, and excavated insights and ideas for us. People who have focused deeply on mining the world, traveling the world, and finding wisdom, finding tenets of ideas and concepts that can transform the way we live in the modern world. And today's guest is someone I've had on the show before, but I am so excited to see him again after around four or five years. It's been since we were last together. I'm speaking about Dan Buetner, an explorer, National Geographic fellow, award winning journalist and producer, and New York Times bestselling author Dan discovered the five places in the world dubbed Blue Zones, hotspots where people live the longest, healthiest lives. In Dan's new book that I have right now, the Blue Zone Secrets for living longer, lessons from the healthiest places on earth, Dan talks about his travels and journeys of living and learning from people all over the world that we'll dive into today.


I want you to grab a copy of this book. It beautifully synthesizes and summarizes really complex and difficult ideas and really, really simple and beautiful ones in a way that you can practice them and bring them to life in yours and the people you love. Welcome to the show, Dan Buetner. Dan, thank you for being here.


You're such a master. It's a complete joy to see you again and to be here in your studio.


Yeah. And congratulations on your documentary, too, on Netflix. I mean, it's been received exceptionally well. If anyone hasn't seen it yet, make sure you go and see that and get the book at the same time. It's so beautiful because when we met, you'd been dedicated to this work for so long already, and the fact that it's now having another resurgence and it's becoming even more mainstream, which I love, because I think these ideas need to be mainstream. Talk to us just about how long you've been fascinated and obsessed about this journey and how amazing it is. You just said a moment ago outside to me, you said, I thought the work had had its course, but here it is again. It's timeless.


1999, I read a study in the world health organization finding that Okinawa, Japan, produces the longest lived, disability free lives in the world. And I thought, aha, that's a great mystery. And it did a very quick expedition there and became personally on fire about the topic. And then in 2004, I got an assignment from National Geographic and a grant from the National Institutes on aging and wrote a cover story for National Geographic. And the idea here, Jay, was so many. It's very hot in Silicon Valley right now to search for longevity hacks or anti aging nostroms and so forth. And instead of looking for secret to longevity in a test tube or some sort of genetic code, we very methodically found these five areas where people are living measurably longer. And then, because only about 20% of how long we live is dictated by our genes, 80% of something else. Then we took teams of scientists to find the common denominators and the correlates. And I think the reason the Netflix series is resonating so much right now is because in our fast paced world, where we're constantly looking for answers in technology, we've overlooked this wonderful repository of time honored wisdom that if we stop, pay attention, you can see not only is there plenty of evidence that these approaches work, but also it offers a path to longevity.


That's enjoyable.


Absolutely. And I'm so happy that you're shining a light on that, because I think it's so interesting how obsessed we can get and even how stressed we can get about our health. And almost when you go back to these very grassroots ways and methods and approaches, it's so much more natural and organic. But walk us through that. You said 20% is genes. What's the other 80%?


Maybe 10% is health care, how good your insurance is, how much access you have to hospitals and doctors. But the other 70% or so, I argue, it is largely your environment. We spend over $150,000,000,000 a year on diets and exercise programs. But if you look at the duration of how long those last, it's measured in months or maybe a year and a half or so. And when it comes to longevity, there's no short term fix, there's no pill, there's no supplement. It is the sum of lots of small improvements to your lives aggregated over decades. That's what works. And I've been shown nothing else that can work in the short run. So that 70% is how you set up your environment, so that you are unconsciously nudged to do things that favor longevity and nudged away from the things that we know, take away from health and vitality. That's kind of the general idea, and.


I love that idea about environment. I think the challenge is today that a lot of us would find that environments we grow up in, or environments we live and work in, are almost set up against longevity. Yes. Would you agree with that? And what are some of the ways in which we almost have to not fight, but we have to almost defend, protect, and create environments to grow and be abundant in.


So we're in Los Angeles right now. I happen to know that the average angelino spends 47 hours a year, not just in traffic, stopped in traffic, in places that are walkable, where there are bike lanes, where there are nice, wide sidewalks with trees, so they're esthetically pleasing, cleaned up playground. The physical activity level of the entire community is 20% higher. So we live in a natured nation where freer than 24% of people get the minimum amount of physical activity, which is only about 20 minutes. So just by living in a walkable neighborhood, you're probably going to get more physical activity over the long term than you are signing up for a gym. The other problem is our food environment. We evolved with genetic hardwiring to favor salt, favor sugar, yearn for fat, and take rest whenever we can. That served us very well in an environment of scarcity and difficulty like we evolved in. But now we live in this environment. We're never more than five steps away from a salty snack or soda or hamburger or pizza, and our genes lust for that. And we can try to deploy discipline or presence of mind to overcome it three or four times, but the 6th time you're confronted by it in a day, that discipline muscle wears out, and next thing you're eating that Snickers or digging into that bag of chips.


It's hard to wake your finger at Americans and say, it's your responsibility to eat healthy when 97 out of 100 choices out there for most people aren't healthy.


I want to dive into all the lessons and the insights that we can make shifts. How have you found people being able to apply the blue zone's work in their modern lives in these big cities, in places where 97 out of 100 options are unhealthy or toxic or whatever they may be? What examples have you seen? What have you learned about people actually making changes and transformations in their life?


So I have two answers. And first, I'll take it at the community level. So my daytime job for most of the last 13 years has been working with cities. We're publicly endorsed, but privately funded, so we don't get involved with people worrying about spending tax dollars. We've gone into cities like Fort Worth, Texas, Naples, Florida, Jacksonville, the whole state of Hawaii. And instead of trying to get people to try to convince people to eat mostly a plant based diet and get physical activity, we work with city council to help them identify policies that favor healthy food over junk food, that favor the pedestrian, over the motorists that favor the non smoker over the smoker. And we don't come in telling cities what to do. Nobody wants to be told what to do. We bring them menus, and then we go through every item on that policy menu and assess it for, number one, effective. Do people in this room from the public and private sector think it'd be effective in this city? And two, is it feasible? Is there enough sort of political equity to get these things done? And in every city, we're able to find a half a dozen to a dozen policies that float to the top and my team get implemented, and that's the biggest, according to the CDC, the most powerful lever we have to create a healthier America is policy.


It's the most cost effective. But then we also have a blue zone's certification program for restaurants, grocery stores, workplaces, and schools. And over five years, we can usually get 30% to 40% of those places to agree to optimize their designs and their policies. So people mindlessly move more, eat better. Cafeterias are healthier with healthier choices, socialize more. We all know loneliness kills and then know and live their purpose. And it only works when you're comprehensive. And from the time people wake up till the time they go to bed, they are nudged, unconsciously nudged into slightly better behaviors over the period of decades. And in every city we've worked in, and Gallup measures this, we've seen the obesity rate go down, life satisfaction go up, and health care go down a lot. And in a country where we're spending $4.4 trillion on health care, that's an important consideration.


Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's incredible to have these very. I love how you're approaching it almost from a very macro level, like, in the sense of it's not just about micro habit changes, it's about redesigning entire cities or reformatting entire cities, which I was fascinated when we first met. And you walked me through the models, and I remember you showing us how you were thinking parks and spaces could be redesigned, and how schools and homes and how they all need to be close to each other. And I was thinking, wow, it's such a practical, but macro level. I want to dive into some of these areas because I want to give people a small tour of this beautiful book that you've created. And, of course, highly recommend that everyone grabs the book for all the full details. But the blue zones are Sardinia, Nicoya, Loma, Linda, Ikaria, Okinawa, and Singapore. And so they're not necessarily the most. They're not predictable, and they're not places that you'd go. Oh, yeah, I know that place. Like, of course, those people live a long time. I've been to Sardinia before, and I remember going and meeting with some of the people.


Then I was totally blown away. I've been to Singapore before, and I met some local individuals, but I wanted to dive into a couple of areas that I highlighted. So I want to talk a little bit about a few things that may sound counterintuitive to people. One of these ones was the plant based diet, because I think a lot of people right now, there's a lot of debate over plant based versus meat based diet. But this was something that you saw across the board as quite a strong indicator of longevity.


I think people should eat what makes them feel the best, and I'm not here to tell people what to eat, but I'm also right for National Geographic, and my feet are held to the fire. So if I want to talk about a diet of longevity, our process was to aggregate dietary surveys in all five blue zones. Universities go out and find what the population is eating, and we did that over the past 80 years. So 155 dietary surveys over 80 years. So we know what a centenarian was eating when they were 20 and what they're eating when they were newly retired. And recently I had oversight from Harvard to do what's called a metaanalysis. And if you really want to know what a centenarian has eaten most of his or her life, it is about 90% to 95% whole plant based food, contrary to sort of the popular keto diets and so forth. It's very high in carbohydrates. But complex carbohydrates, both jelly beans and lentil beans, are carbohydrates. And obviously, in a way, carbohydrates is the worst word in the nutritional dictionary, because I would argue, simple carbohydrates, like jelly beans, are the most toxic components of our diet, whereas beans is the most healthy.


The five pillars of every longevity diet in the world are whole grains, greens, and other garden vegetables. It's all seasonal tubers like sweet potatoes. In Okinawa, until 1970, about 65% to 70% of all the calories consumed were from purple sweet potatoes, nuts as a snack. And then the cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world is beans. And if you're eating a cup of beans a day, it's probably worth about four years of extra life expectancy. They do eat meat, and I readily acknowledge that the Adventists don't all eat meat. But in all blue zones, on average, they were eating meat about five times per month. The average American eats about 220 pounds of meat a year, which is just too much. I think there's plenty of evidence to show that that level of meat consumption is highly associated with about a doubling or tripling of your chances of cardiovascular disease and even type two diabetes. In blue zones, they might be consuming 20 pounds of meat a year. And it's a celebratory food. It's usually from an animal that's had a pretty decent life. Not to say that that justifies killing it, but it's just a whole different way of consuming meat in much lower quantities.


So is there room for meat in people's diet? Probably, but a lot less, I think we're consuming.


Yeah. And I love how you've connected. And, I mean, the amount of analysis that's been done is truly remarkable. And obviously, the amount of years, the fact that, you know, what someone was eating at 20 years old and what they've eaten for their whole life is pretty phenomenal. One of these ones that you had here was laughing with friends. And I think laughter is laughter and crying. Both are such underestimated emotions and expressions. And I almost feel like, I wonder if every one of us who's listening and watching right now did a personal audit on how much we laughed per week. Oh, yeah. I would be intrigued to see how many of us. And I would love that everyone who's listening and watching just for the next seven days. It sounds like a stupid activity, and maybe this makes you laugh, and that's great. Write down how many times you truly laughed, not just like, ha, but truly laughed every day. What did you discover about the importance of laughter? Because that sounds like such a subtle, soft, small thing, but you put it in the book.


Something about Mary Poppins.


Something about Mary Poppins, exactly.


Oh, man, this is fun.


I'm AJ Jacobs, and I am an author and a journalist, and I tend to get obsessed with stuff. And my current obsession is puzzles. And that has given birth to my new podcast, the puzzler. Dressing. Dressing.


French dressing.




That's good.


We are living in the golden age of puzzles. And now you can get your daily puzzle nuggets delivered straight to your ears for ten minutes or less every day on the puzzler. Short and sweet.


I thought to myself, I bet I know what this is. And now I definitely know what this is.


This is so weird. This is fun. Let's try this one.


Listen to the puzzler every day on the iHeartRadio app, Apple podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.


That's awful.


And I should have seen it coming.


On his new podcast, Six Degrees with Kevin Bacon. Join Kevin for inspiring conversations with celebrities who are working to make a difference in the world, like musical artist jewel and what an equal opportunist misery is. It doesn't care if you're black or white or rich or poor or famous or homeless. If you were raised in misery systems. It's perpetual. Kevin is the founder of the nonprofit organization Now he's meeting with like minded actors who share a passion for change.


Like, you know, I found myself moving upstate in the middle of this fracking fight, and I'm trying to raise kids there, and my neighbor's, like, willing to poison my water.


These conversations between Kevin and activist Matthew McConaughey will have you ready to lean in, learn, and inspired to act.


They're all on the wrong track. Help them get on the right track. If they're on the right track, let's help them double down on that and see the opportunity to stay on the right track for success in the future.


Listen to six degrees with Kevin Bacon on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Hola, Mijel. There. This is Wilmer Valderama, executive producer of the new podcast de May. Abuelita, first part of iHeartRadio's Michael Tuda podcast network. Each week, hosts Vic Ortiz and Abuelita Liliana Montenegro will play matchmaker for a group of hopeful romantics who are putting their trust in Abuelita to find them a date.


Your job right now is to get on Abuelita's really good site. Our awelita definitely knows best on date my awalita first three single contestants will vie for a date with one lucky main dater. Except to get their heart, they have to win over Awelita. Liliana first. Die, Liliana. Yes, we are ready for love. Through speed dating rounds, hilarious games, and Liliana's intuition. One contestant will either be a step closer to getting that bandulse, if you know what I mean, or a step closer to getting that chancleta. Let's see if cheesebas will fly or if these singles will be sent back to the dating apps. Listen to date my hourlita first on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcast, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Well, it's hard to quantify, quite honestly. But where that comes from, the word sardonic, which is a type of kind of slightly biting but good natured humor, comes from Sardinia, and it very much pervades the culture. There's a lot of sort of ribbing, good natured ribbing of each other, and that's sort of a social currency. So when they get together at the end of the day for their glass of wine or two, they're not sitting around griping about politics or what the left is doing or what the right is doing. They're poking fun of each other. The shepherd over the hill. That's an anecdotal observation, but it just seemed to be one of the propellants of a very hearty and healthy social life. I wrote the COVID story for National Geograph in 2005. I don't think anybody was connecting social, the quality of your social relations with health or longevity until my first articles and books were. And I think there's a general realization that transcends blue zones. That if you could put the healthful properties of a good social life in a tablet, it would be a billion dollar blockbuster drug. Being having at least three friends who you can laugh with, who care about you on a bad day, is worth about eight years of life expectancy over being alone.


And I don't know of any other supplement or pill that will give you anywhere near that.


We inherently know that. Like, when someone hears that, they sound, yeah, I have three friends, but I think, like you said, it's the topic of conversation. It's the energetic exchange, it's the vulnerability and the depth of that relationship that seems to be stifled. Like you're saying we're all searching for the magic pill, but you're saying actually just having three friends that you can call on a bad day is actually going to increase your life expectancy greater than any pill you could take. Which, just to think about that for a second, you make it sound so easy, but that's a really powerful point. But we maybe don't engage as effectively with three people in our life. Where have we gone wrong in that social space? What did you kind of come across?


There's this great Harvard researcher named Robert Putnam. He wrote a book called Bowling Alone. And when he first wrote it in the late 80s, he calculated that the average american has three friends. He now calculates we're down to under two. So we may think that we're socially connected, but as a nation, we're getting less and less socially connected. And I think part of it is this thing right here. We're using this as a proxy for the face to face conversations like we're having right now, which isn't nearly as good. Part of it is our environment. We spend about twice as much time in our cars than we did in 1980. If we're in our cars, we're not out walking, interacting with people, and having those serendipitous social interactions that can lead to friendships. We spend four and a half hours a day at least, interacting with our screens yet again, another time taken away from social interaction. And we are humans. The reason why we're successful over other Simeons is that we have this capacity to feel empathy for each other, to cooperate with each other. And at the end of the day, most things that feel good favor our health and our longevity.


That's why we get hungry and it feels good to eat. Or we get that little urge and it feels good to have sex. These are all things that sort of favor the thriving of our species.


Yeah. I want to pick up a few things that really resonated with me. There first is you spoke about serendipitous moments, and I think that that's such a. Again, it's become so random or rare now to bump into someone at a grocery store and start a conversation. We're in a line at anywhere, whether it's the doctors, whether it's a store, whatever it may be, and everyone's on their phone, and it would be rare. Or actually, we'd see it as weird if someone said hello to us. We'd kind of look around going like, are you okay? What do you need? It would be uncomfortable. And I actually think that when those synchronous or serendipitous moments happen where you kind of have a moment of surprise or delight or you bump into someone that feels familiar. I had this happen to me through a work thing last week. We were going on a work project. One person on the team hadn't come to an event yet. We hit it off immediately, and it felt like serendipity, and it was through work. And I was just like, I want to build a relationship with this person. And I often feel that way.


And because I moved country and I moved city, so I moved from London to New York to now LA, I've had the positive pressure of having to rebuild community. And I remember when I moved to New York and then moved to LA, I said to my wife, I was like, I'm not just trying to build my career. I want to build community at the same time because you can't really have one without the other. I could have an amazing career here, but if I don't have community, how meaningful is my career going to feel? And so they were both pursuits and efforts. And I remember having this really, and I still do it today. And I'm 36 years old, and I'm not shy about it. If I connect with someone or if I enjoy someone's company, I'll just say, hey, do you want to come over for dinner? Let's hang out and try and avoid going out for dinner. And I try and avoid going to bars and restaurants because I find them to be loud. I find them to be impersonal, and I find them also to be short. Like, you'll go out for dinner for an hour and a half.


And then everyone will look at their phone and leave. And I almost think that if there's someone that I deeply want to connect with, I'd rather meet them one on one. And if they can come over to my apartment or my home or whatever it may be, that intimate time and ordering food in kind of creates more time. You're now going to spend 3 hours with someone. It's likely that you're going to extend that period of time. And another thing that's been massive in helping me is, I think often we hide in groups. So we go out with big groups, we go out with 20 people, we go out with 30 people, and you then end up having. Or you go out with six people and you end up having five shallow conversations as opposed to one or two deeper ones. Now, I'm not saying I don't hang out in groups. I do, and I enjoy it. And my wife and I throw regular game nights, and we love that kind of stuff. But I also crave deep, intimate, valuable conversation as well. And I know my friends do. And so to me, I've tried really hard.


And sometimes you wear your heart in your sleeve and you say to someone, hey, do you want to hang out? And they're like, no. And it's okay. Because I feel like if I do feel that with someone and someone fills it back with me, that's the beginning of a beautiful friendship as an adult. And I feel like we make less friends as adults than obviously we did as kids.


Especially for men, especially.


Oh, yeah. Interesting. Go ahead. Sorry.


No, I'd actually like to explore this idea of positive pressure to socialize. I think there are a lot of Americans who would love more social interaction. It's just hard. And I'm wondering what you like. If you're a middle aged american living in Iowa, in a small town, how would you use this positive pressure and actually start to build network or build meaningful relationships?


I find places of equal value, and that could be a bar, a restaurant, a pool bar, a darts place. I don't know. I'm thinking places that people in England definitely go to. You know, I think sports, to me, finding this has happened recently to me here, and I know this isn't Iowa, but the idea of I have made almost. I have made so many new friends simply playing pickleball. So pickleball has taken over the nation. I go to a local park, like, literally ten minutes down the road. I go there and I play. And if we've lost a doubles partner or whatever, we'll go up to someone random or someone will come up to us and say, hey, are you guys looking for another pair? And we're like, yeah, sure. And all of a sudden you're on a text thread and you're all friends and you're playing pickleball together twice a week. And so I found that sports places of equal value, I think charities and give back opportunities are amazing places. I think there are so many social networks inside a city that we're not even aware of. Obviously people's schools and your children's schools and communities.


I think there are just so many opportunities to meet like minded people. And I think if we go there wanting to connect and find people of equal value, I think it's possible. And so I don't know. I've never been to Iowa, so I can't speak specifically for there, but I.


Definitely feel like great stuff.


Yeah. Getting into places of finding tangents to connect on. I don't think you're going to bump into someone at a grocery store. I don't think you're going to bump into someone on the street anymore. It doesn't work like that. But you will bump into someone if you went to a class, a course, a program, an event. I went on a world tour this year. We went to nearly 40 cities across the world. And I had people who turned up to my show, single, alone, came by themselves and left with a group of friends. I love it. Right. I think that's possible, but because you're going to a place where you feel.


Safe and they share interests, obviously sharing, exploring what you're. And probably sharing values.




It's just that we're sort of relentlessly marketed that the path to health is through this diet program or this exercise program, or these supplements or a longevity hack. And the realization that quality social interaction is probably better for your health than any of those things. Marketers can't make money off of it, so you don't hear about it. To your point about pickleball, I think it is the most important social innovation that America has seen in the last three decades. I'm also a pickleball fanatic.


Oh, I love it. Yeah.


And we have this place where I'll just show up at 09:00 in the morning alone, and within ten minutes I'm playing a game. And often because there's so much kind of talking back and forth, by the end of it, I have the seeds of three new friendships. And after three months, it's a community. I think it's a wonderful thing. A few other things that have worked for me. This past summer, I visited Minnesota some. I want to expand my social circle. So I just went through my own contacts, just one by one, and thought, yeah, that's a person who's a healthy and I'm interested in, and I'd like to get to know. And I just made Tuesday and Thursday afternoons lunch days because it was a low bar for me to ask somebody to come to lunch with me. I'll pay. And instead of investing in a diet program or something or some supplements, I had eight lunches. And out of that eight lunches, three of those people are more of, I would say, in my immediate social circle now. So there's ways to do that.


Yeah, that's brilliant. Super practical. Another one that stuck out. And I want to go into so many more, but this one kind of on that community element, and again, potentially more anecdotal, but really powerful. And a big part of how we lived in the monastery and how I was raised celebrating elders. And I love that idea because one of my wife's favorite people in the world, or her favorite person in the world, is her grandmother, who's thankfully still with us. And she loves celebrating her. She loves spending time with her. She loves learning from her. A few years ago, she sat down and interviewed her just for herself so she'd have those memories to hold on to her grandma's experiences. She went and asked her grandmother to share with her, like, old photos and all of this kind of stuff. When I think about my monk teachers who are twice my age, and celebrating them and being present with them and learning from them, I think celebrating elders is such a part of society that's completely been lost. But especially in Sardinia, that stood out. Walk us through what you saw there.


It's very easy to map respect of elders as a longevity strategy for a community. So you go into these sort of old man bars up in the mountains, and instead of seeing the sports illustrated swimsuit of the month, you would see the centenarian of the month. They actually have in the. In Bonai, it's called in the cluster of the blue zone. I mean, that's just an outward manifestation. But in Sardinia, it would shame the family to put your aging parent in a retirement home. So they all stay nearby or usually living in the home. And they're not just recipients of care. I think a lot of people are afraid of that. They're expected to participate. So the women are helping with childcare. They are the keepers of the food tradition. The men, they're still advising when to plant, when to sow. They know how to make that wonderful blue zones wine, which has very high levels of antioxidants. So it's this beautiful, virtuous circle where older people are told they matter. They're given a reason to get up in the morning, to take their meds, to stay physically fit, to eat. Right, so they're living longer.


And then there's something called the grandmother effect that shows that a household with a grandmother living in it, or at least nearby grandfather or grandmother, those children have lower rates of mortality and lower rates of disease. So this circle is what sort of think of it, an upward ratcheting of the life expectancy of the whole community.


And that becomes harder, even for us. We've moved away. We're not close to our own parents, and of course, our grandparents are getting older as well. And it's harder when the world is growing and the world is getting bigger and you're moving and traveling more. Is there a way of keeping that connection through phones, through FaceTimes, through visits? Can it still have a similar impact?


Or even more immediate, have a surrogate grandparent? There's a Yale researcher named Becca Levy who found that just having a positive attitude towards aging lowers your mortality by about 40%. And part of that is having older people in your life and learning from their wisdom and honoring it. Not forcing them to retire, but finding a way for their wisdom to put work. Even though they might not have as much fluid intelligence as they had when they were 30.


Yeah, absolutely. That makes me feel really good. I'm really happy you brought that up as such a research point. I definitely have people in LA that I see as those elders in my life and in my world that can replace those people that I don't always have access to. That's really powerful. A couple of things that I want to surprise people with, because this was huge. A couple of fun ones. This ideal to drink seven cups of green tea a day. I think this was on your TikTok. Seven cups of green tea. To walk me through that. That sounds like a lot hard to do.


I was just in Kyoto last week with a researcher who actually very clearly mapped it to frailty. Seven is ideal, but as little as three cups of green tea a day is associated with about four extra years of healthy life expectancy. And we don't know why. I mean, you can guess it's probably the antioxidant oxidants or the catchikins they call, but there's probably 1500 compounds in green tea. We don't know for sure. But green tea has been around for a long time, and it's consumed daily in volume by at least two of these blue zones. And it's one of these things that rather than turn to the superfood or the super beverage, why not drink what we learn from our ancestors who've achieved the outcomes we want, which is a long, healthy life.


Yeah, absolutely. My wife and I created this sparkling adaptogenic tea called juni, and we put one cup of green tea in there. And so that's one of the seven, at least.


I'm doing this for my longevity.


It's got 0 gram of sugar in it.




Thank you. It's got 0 gram of sugar in it. Only five calories, really. It's all natural products. It was part of that. Like, how do you create something that's fun and healthy at the same time? And I'm glad.


That's right.




And that competes with the sugar sweetened beverages and much better off grabbing a.


Junie than a Pepsi. Yeah, you said no, but that was the goal. I think it's about what you're doing here as well. It's about how do we make alternatives accessible and how do we make healthy.


Hit the nail on the head and easy, and you remove the friction of price.




On his new podcast, six degrees with Kevin Bacon. Join Kevin for inspiring conversations with celebrities who are working to make a difference in the world, like musical artist jewel and what an equal opportunist misery is. It doesn't care if you're black or white or rich or poor or famous or homeless. If you were raised in misery systems, it's perpetual. Kevin is the founder of the nonprofit organization Now he's meeting with like minded actors who share a passion for change.


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They're all on the wrong track. Help them get on the right track. If they're on the right track, let's help them double down on that and see the opportunity to stay on the right track for success in the future.


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Listen to comeback stories. I'm Darren Waller. You may know me best as a tight end for the New York Giants. You may also know me for my story of overcoming addiction and alcoholism. You may have heard a few of my tracks as an artist or a producer. You may have seen the work that I've done through my foundation. And you may know my friend and co host, Donnie Starkins as well. He's a mindfulness teacher, a yoga instructor, a life coach, a man fully invested in seeing people reach their fullest potential. And we've come to form this platform of comeback stories to really highlight not only our own adversity, but adversity in the lives of well known guests with amazing stories. Catch us every week on comeback stories on the I Heart radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcast.


I named Singapore a blue zone 2.0. And the reason is, in one lifetime, life expectancy has jumped 20 years. They now have the highest health adjusted life expectancy in the world. So they live the longest, healthiest life. It's not some coincidence from some ancient culture. They very deliberately went about making unhealthy food more expensive and harder to get. So, for example, they taxed sugar. We all know sugar is not good for us. A coke in Singapore has 20% less sugar than the same coke in America. So they've mandated it has to be less sugar. Meanwhile, they subsidize things we know are good for us, like brown rice. They know that driving, especially in traffic, is bad for the air, it's bad for kids get killed in accidents. You don't get much physical activity when you're sitting in the car. So they've made car driving incredibly expensive. $100,000 just to have the right to drive a car. 300% tax on top of that. Therefore, 89% of people in Singapore walk, but they take 9%. 89%? Yeah, 11% people own cars in Singapore. But what that means is that there's all this tax revenue that they're able to sink into a fast, efficient, clean, air conditioned, wonderful public transport system.


And nobody's more than about 300 meters away from much faster than driving public transportation. You know what the side of benefit of that is? Everybody takes about 7500 steps a day without even thinking about it. So they're already ahead of 75% of Americans just getting to work in the morning or going out to see their friends or going out to eat because they're walking to the subway.




That's the way american policymakers need to start thinking if we really want a healthier America.


Are you working on the policy shifts, too? Is that a big part of your focus? Or do you have to work on local policy.


I'm working with one of my favorite congressmen's, Dean Phillips, about a design for healthier America bill that would provide block grants for cities to do this kind of work. So designing for setting Americans up for health. Right now we're set up for ill health in this country. I hate to say it. So it's just instead of the $4.4 trillion a year we spend cleaning up America's health mess, getting ahead of it, which is a much better investment, and it also avoids lots of suffering and lots of premature death.


Absolutely. I mean, speaking on that, one of the things I wanted to ask you is, what are things that Americans do currently that are seen as healthy, but are actually causing us to gain weight and live a shorter life? Are there certain things that you think are marketed, promoted, or focused on for us to become healthier that are having the opposite impact?


Anytime anybody markets you as superfood, you can be pretty sure it's not many, if not most of them have added sugars or processed ingredients which aren't all that good for you. Basically, any packaged food that trumpets some health benefit, it's probably all, not all that good for you. In blue zones, the foods they eat have one ingredient as it comes out of the ground. For the most part, it's combined in wonderfully delicious ways, but it's not processed.


And it's seasonal too, right?


It's often seasonal, but several of the blue zones only have two growing seasons, so they still have to get through winter. The cornerstone of all these longevity diets are beans and grains, which store beautifully for years at a time. And those sort of get people through the times where their gardens aren't producing, by the way. We put enormous burden on ourselves trying to tell Americans that they need to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. You go into the inner city, a lot of people don't know what to do with fresh fruits and vegetables. They don't have a taste for them. A much greater, easier solution is beans and rice, beans and corn, tortilla, beans and pasta, pasta fajoli. Whenever you have a bean and a grain and you put them together, you have a whole protein. They're cheap. Almost every ethnicity knows how to cook them and make them taste delicious. They're usually fast to combine and cook. We would serve Americans much better if we sent the message to eat healthy. To start your journey to perhaps living to 100, eat beans and rice.


What's really hard is I'm listening to you, and I see this as the challenge, too. It almost seems like all of our bad decisions, whether it's what we eat, whether we walk, whether we work out, are primarily based on high levels of stress. So when we're stressed, you're going to reach for unhealthy food because it makes you feel better. When you're stressed, you're more likely to reach for sugar. When you're stressed, you're more likely to sleep in or try to sleep in or have bad sleep, and then you don't have energy to work out. You're more likely to skip a workout or skip walking because you feel stressed. You want to rush home in your car and just get in front of the tv. And so, so much of our choices are all based on a lot of stress. And obviously in the blue zones, they don't have a stressful life.


I imagine you're right, fundamentally, that stress drives poor decisions. And also, if we're eating a meal and we're stressed, you're interrupting the digestion process with cortisol, which is not good for you. But people in blue zone suffer stress just like we do. They worry about their kids, they worry about their finances, they worry about their health. If you're unhealthy and overweight in America, it's probably not your fault, and I'll tell you why. In 1980, about 15% of Americans were obese. Now it's 42, going to 43% of it. So almost tripling of the obesity rate, there are seven times as many people are suffering from type two diabetes or pre diabetes. That's not because 35 years ago, people had more discipline or better diet programs, or they were better people, or they were exposed to less stresses. What has changed is our environment. I mentioned before, we're driving more. But also the number of fast food restaurants has gone up exponentially. Over 50% of all retail outlets, including the place you get your tires changed and the place you pick up your diabetes medicine, force you through a gauntlet of sugar sweetened beverages, chips and sodas.


We make about 220 food decisions a day. Only 10% of them are conscious. The other 200 or so have been orchestrated by marketing and by proximity and convenience and really mindless decisions. And to your point, some of those bad, mindless decisions are because of stress, but most of it is because of our unhealthy environment.


Yeah, I've always said that being plant based has saved me from those gauntlets because I can't eat any of it, because all of it has some sort of dairy or some sort of animal in it. And it's like, that's the only reason me and my wife talk about that all the time. Whenever we walk past donuts, we was donuts and pastries. And we're just like, gosh, if I wasn't plant based because I have a massive sweet tooth. I grew up eating a ton of sugar. I was exposed to it since I was a kid, and so it's taken me years to curb that. But the thing that saves me the most from exactly what you're talking about right now, the donut shop, the pizza shop, the whatever, is on plant based. And that's the only thing that saves me.


I hate to tell you, there are plant based donuts.


Oh, no, there are. Yeah, I know. Luckily, I'm gonna put it out. There is an amazing. If you live in LA, there is an amazing plant based donut place called Donut Friend. It is unbelievable. And I am so lucky that I live like over 30 minutes away from. And so thinking about driving for 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back to get a donut, they don't deliver to where I live is like, that saves me again. Van Lewin is too close, though. That's vegan ice cream.


Just imagine if you came out your driveway. Every time you came out your driveway, there was a special little donut vendor right there.




And that's what most Americans are confronted with, the convenience stores. It's hard, no matter where you shop, you're tempted by this stuff. And, yeah, we're set up for really a tough time.


Yeah. One of the things you mentioned again on your TikTok was you've said that you believe the best weight loss tool is the scale. I wanted to ask you about that because I think for a lot of people, getting on a scale is stressful. It's like, anxiety inducing. They look at it and it makes them more aware of a number. And now they get focused on a number. And if they don't make that number, they judge themselves and criticize themselves, or they call themselves fat or ugly or name whatever it may be. So what were you trying to get at when you were sharing that?


You're right. There is a minority of people who obsess about it, and it's anxiety inducing. But for the aggregate, people who step on a scale every day and confront their weight, and by the way, if your weight goes up, yeah, you're going to feel a little kick in the pants. But if your weight goes down, there's a little endorphin surge, it's a little reward. And setting up that system, putting a bathroom scale in your way, people who self weigh every day after two years, weigh about eight pounds less than people who never self weigh. So I actually have one of my little social groups from Los Angeles here. I used to live here. I still have four people, and I hardly know I've seen them once in my life. But every day, we email each other our weight, and it kind of keeps us doing it. We're accountable to somebody, and every one of us, our weight has gone down a little bit over the last decade or so. And for the average american male, in ten years, you can expect to gain an extra ten years. So even among my little focus group, it's worked really quite well.


Competition and collaboration together are really fascinating.








Yeah. It's why pickleball works for me. It's also why I think I have so many people I know do 10,000 step challenges within their family, and most of those people are walking way over 10,000 steps simply because they're trying to beat someone in their family. And then everyone's average is growing up. And so I think that making something competitive and collaborative is the genius of the social network. The fitness, the fun in life. So much of it comes from that, and I think we've lost that.


One of the strategies we deploy in our cities, it's an idea we took from Okinawa, the notion of a moai, a committed social circle. And we'll get four or 500 people to show up to a gym. We'll have them circle up according to what neighborhood they live in. We ask them a bunch of questions about, are they religious, what their favorite food is, what they listen for music, and have them look at each other as these questions are being answered. And then we have them self select in groups of five people. And a lot of these people are completely lonely. And once they self select in these clusters, we call them mois. We have them give themselves a name, and then we organize them around walking together. Everybody can walk together. And then we offer a little prize at the end of ten weeks. What happens during that ten weeks is not only are these people walking a lot more than they normally would, they're creating a social network or a social circle around walking. That, in many cases we know about 60% are still around four years later. So, as you were starting to latch on to, it's the power of collaboration, but creating a social circle around a healthy behavior, that's what's going to last, and that's what's going to matter over time.


Absolutely. I wanted to quickly jump back to diet and food, because there's this great technique that you have, and you mentioned, and this was popular in parts of India that were teaching it from this perspective as well, that the method you spoke about was being eight out of ten full when you're eating. And when we were trained about that, when we'd hear about it from an eastern or vedic perspective, the idea of how breath is part of feeling full. And so food is not the only thing that your stomach is full on, was how I was introduced to that idea of being seven tenths full or eight tenths full, and the rest would be covered by breath. Of course, there's water as well. Walk us through that idea of how we can all stop eating at eight tenths full. Because I think most of us wait till ten or 1210 eigth. Yeah, exactly.


So it has its roots in Confucius. The okinawans have this saying, harahachibu, which is a reminder to stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full. And they'll say that like a prayer before a meal. So instead of saying grace or whatever, it's a reminder. I believe, though much of it is actually done at the table, they tend to pre plate their foods and put the leftovers away at the beginning of the meal instead of the end, when you might be mindlessly eating. They don't have a tv, so they're not mindlessly eating to their favorite television show. They're sitting around with friends, slowing the meal down. It takes about 20 minutes from the full feeling to travel from your belly to your brain. And if you're wolfing your food down, if you're not breathing, like you say, not drinking water, there's a pretty good chance you're going to overeat before you know it.


It's so fascinating. How have they been able to, in these places, hold on to these traditions? Like, even you're saying, I won't say it like you said it. So the repetition, even the reminder of, hey, let's stay eight tenths full at this meal. How have they managed to hold on to these very old traditions and ideas and concepts in places that I'm sure are being commercialized, gentrified and all the rest of it? Like, how have they managed to hold onto it?


Well, it worked until about the year 2000 or 2005 because there haven't been outside influences. But in all these blue zones, the american food culture and the onslaught of ubiquitous media is starting to hit. It's lagged by ten or 20 years because these are remote areas. But as soon as the american food culture walks in the front door. Longevity walks out the back. And all of these blue zones, sadly, are disappearing. They'll be gone. I figure in about half a generation, Okinawa is already no longer a blue zone. So, yeah, sadly, they're making the same mistakes that we're making.


You think in our lifetime that blue.


Zones will probably be gone in about a decade and a half. The Nakoya blue zone has shrunk to about one fifth its size. The okinawan blue zone is gone. Except for people 90 and over. You still have a blue zone in that demographic. Sardinia. You're starting to see fast food restaurants show up. Greece. Ikari is doing a good job, and I'll tell you why. Because the recognition they're getting as a blue zone has created an awareness of the incredible treasures that the older people are. And younger people in their twenty s and thirty s are bringing back these traditions and they're celebrating this diet that is producing longevity. And I have real hope for the icarium blue zone.


Do you think that may be the last standing one?


I think it'll be the last of the blue zone 1.0. Yeah, the Singapores. I think there are more. And my current project is to track down more of these areas where governments have been successful at manufacturing blue zones. And so I think those are going to be the most relevant lessons because, hey, let's face it, we live in 2023 and there are modern forces that we have to contend with. And the lifestyle that evolved beginning in 1500 isn't as useful. It provides lessons and we can use it to, I think, model new environments and new policies. But it's not exactly an apples to apple.


Yeah. At a government level, at a decision making level, what is making people care or not care? Because I think that's something people always think about. Right. Like, all of this makes so much sense. If I was in charge, I'd say this is how we should be, wanting to help people and support people. And let's make it easier, because my job on a day to day basis is so much about empowering the individual to make better choices, to find healthier options, to build discipline, to almost deal with the onslaught and the gauntlet of everything. That's kind of my day job. Right? That's what I'm focused on here. But if I was in charge at state levels, I would want to see the changes you're making. What is incentivizing and enthusing people at that level to say, let's build Singapore 2.0 and more blue zones 2.0 versus what's people going. It's all right. Like, GDP is great. What is that? Yeah.


Singapore realized a long time ago that its most important resource is its people. It's not some industry or not some commodity, like a lot of places. And it has gone about in a very disciplined way of looking at each policy through the lens of, does this increase the well being of people or not? And they don't have the voice of a lobbyist speaking loudly in their ear. Some sort of fundraising incentive to favor some big business. I think it really starts with electing leaders who care about who put well being first. Thomas Jefferson, in fact, I believe was the first American to say that the charge of any leader is the health and happiness of the people. And I think if we are able know, I don't know. We can't do much about Washington, but we can do a lot in our own communities about the type of mayor and city councils that we elect. A lot of the best government in America right now is being done at the municipal level, not the federal level. And you can get a lot done in a hurry in a city or even at the county level if someone.


Wants to be involved or help or support and help their community in town become more of a blue zone. Where would you suggest they start?


Well, if you go to the blue zones website, there is There's a button about my community and you can see how other cities have done it. And there's lots of good ideas. But honestly, Jay, it requires an orchestrated effort, comprehensively. So many have been sort of half baked ideas, or they're not comprehensive enough, and they get people really excited about it and sponsorship money is spent and then not much happens so inconveniently unless it's comprehensive. A four or five year effort staffed by people who know what they're doing with enough intensity, it's probably not going to work.


Got it? Yeah. It's good to have that clarity. I think a lot of people would want to see this change. I can imagine wanting to back this change, and I'm sure a lot of those people are already doing it in their own lives, but they'd love to see it extended out to others.


I do have one suggestion that most cities can consider. There's something called a complete streets policy bundle. Every street is redone on average every seven years. And that provides an opportunity to make that street constructed not just for cars, as most streets and roadways in America are, but for humans, too. So in other words, they have to be considered for narrower lanes, which calms traffic, for bike lanes, for wider sidewalks, for trees, for safe crosswalks. And if a city council that adopts complete streets, it creates an onus for them to make a more walkable, livable community. And any city in American can do that. And by the way, there's great examples. Santa Barbara, California has done a fantastic job. Boulder, Colorado, fantastic job. Madison, Wisconsin. These are places that are not only walkable, but they're economically thriving. And people report the highest levels of well being. They have some of the lowest rates of obesity in America. So that's a great place to start for most american cities.


I want to make sure everyone knows when you get the book, you're going to hear about sleeps, naps, fasting, sunlight. I mean, there are so many other topics that I don't want to go over here because I want you to go and read the book and dive into the depth of just how much research, how much thought, how much work has gone into this over the last couple of decades from Dan and his team. But dan, I have to ask you about purpose. We're on on purpose, and you talk about purpose in the book. I remember speaking to you about it last time as being such a key attribute of a successful centenarian was purpose. How did they define or view purpose or contributing to the greater good? What does that look like for someone in a blue zone?


Well, I have a few things to say about purpose. So it begins in blue zones with vocabulary for purpose. In Costa Rica, it's plande Vida, and in Okinawa it's ikigai. So it's imbued in their culture, but it's manifested. Purpose in blue zones is rarely an individual pursuit. It's like my purpose is stamp collecting or something, or butterflies. It always has a social component or a philanthropic giving back to the community, supporting the family, supporting my group component to it, a service component to it, and I do a lot of thinking about it. In our blue zone work, we have this purpose workshop. And you'd be shocked at how many Americans wake up every morning tired. They pull the breakfast together for their kids, get them off to school, rush to work, wait, work eight to 9 hours, muscle through traffic back home, get dinner back together, and the stress just never goes away. And only about 30% of Americans have purpose in their work. That's according to a gallup poll that surveyed about 2 million Americans. I think purpose is the intersection between having clarity on what your values are, knowing what you love to do, knowing what you're good at, and then studying those three lists for an outlet for them that's true purpose.


I think that's available to all of us. But the founding director of the National Institutes on Aging, Dr. Robert Butler, found that people who could articulate their sense of purpose over time were living about eight years longer than people who are rudderless. So there's a real health benefit, but more so than a health benefit, it's just an enjoyable, rich way to live your life. And anything you can do to get more purpose in your life, including, I might add, listening to this podcast twice a week, every week of your life, is time well spent.


Dan, thank you so much. The book is called the Blue zone, secrets for living longer, lessons from the healthiest places on earth. Dan Buetner, this is the book. Make sure you go grab a copy. Like I said, we didn't even scratch the surface. There are so many things I could talk to Dan about, but I want you to go grab the book. I want you to read it, I want you to study it. I want you to see these beautiful summary pages that are absolutely fantastic, that talk about the key learnings from each of the blue zones that Dan's been to and studied, because it makes it really easy to just pick it up, reflect, have a discussion about it. I hope that you're going to reach out to a group of people that should listen to this podcast, that are going to be part of that tribe, part of that squad, part of that social circle for you all. Whether it's a book club, whether it's a pickleball team, whatever it may be, I really hope that that social part is not underestimated and undervalued. And Diana, thank you again for coming all the way.


You just flew in an hour before this literally landed. Came from the airport, stepped in the seat, gave a beautiful interview with all your energy, passion, and it's truly remarkable. And I'm really grateful for your work. So thank you so much.


It's been an honor and a pleasure. Jay, thank you.


Thank you. Always been a fan and continue to.


We'll see you when you're 100.


Yes, thank you. If you love this episode, you'll love my interview with Dr. Gabor mate on understanding your trauma and how to heal emotional wounds, to start moving on from the past. Everything in nature grows only where it's vulnerable. So a tree doesn't grow where it's hard and thick, does it? It goes where it's soft and green and vulnerable.


Listen to comeback stories. I'm Darren Waller. You might know me as a tight end for the New York Giants or some of you might know me from my story of struggling with and beating addiction to become a Pro bowl tight end. With me, I have my friend and co host, Donnie Starkins, who is a yoga instructor and a personal development coach. Catch us every week on comeback stories on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Hi, I'm Danny Shapiro, host of the hit podcast Family Secrets. What happens when the person you idolize turns out to be someone else entirely? And what if you were kidnapped by your own grandparents and left with an endless well of mysteries about yourself and those around you? These are just a few extraordinary puzzles we'll be exploring in our 9th season of family secrets. I hope you'll join me and my astonishing guests for this new season of family secrets on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.