Science of living longer shared by Blue Zones speaker, panelists | PostIndependent.com

Science of living longer shared by Blue Zones speaker, panelists

The centuries-old search for the fountain of youth may finally be within your grasp.

The length of one's life comes down to how active you are, your diet, keeping a sharp mind and even how much you socialize.

Nearly 100 Roaring Fork Valley residents came out for a panel discussion and to listen to guest speaker Tony Buettner of the "Blue Zones" at the Longevity Project event, presented by the Glenwood Springs Post Independent in the Morgridge Commons at Colorado Mountain College in downtown Glenwood Monday.

"How we live, what we eat, the decisions we make and how we stay fit factors in to our longevity," panelist Jennifer Butterfield, MD, said.

Along with Dr. Butterfield, who is with Mount Sopris Plastic Surgery Center, panelists included Christopher George, MD with Glenwood Orthopedic Center; Jules Rosen, MD, chief medical officer of Mind Springs Health; and Judson Haims, owner of Visiting Angels.

Topics for the night included physical health, mental health, diet and social activity as people age into their senior years.

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"A moderate amount of activity is helpful, doing something is better than nothing," Dr. George said. "Staying active is certainly helpful in keeping up with bone and joint health."

"The number one thing that helps people up here in the mountains, is they are physically fit," Haims said. "People here in Colorado, when they have free time, what do they do, they go hiking or biking."

A key point made during the discussion is that a person's brain is a muscle as well, and it fatigues over time if not used. Not only do you need to stay physically active, but also mentally as well.

"There is one thing to keep in mind, what's good for your heart, is good for your brain," said Dr. Jules Rosen.

Rosen said he doesn't consider Alzheimer's a disease, but part of aging, and that it affects people at different times and different ages.

"If you can reduce your vascular disease, you can prevent your Alzheimer's by years, maybe even decades," Dr. Rosen said.

common threads

Guest speaker Tony Buettner, the senior vice president of business development at Blue Zones finished off the night speaking on his and brother Dan's travels and research around the world on the secrets to a long life.

"Medical researchers believe the human body is built to live to a healthy age of 90," Buettner said. "The problem here in the United States is, on average, people live to age 78 – we are leaving 12 good years on the table."

One of the common threads in each of the so-called Blue Zones around the world where people live longer is a primarily plant-based diet, he said. Others include finding ways to de-stress and socialize with others who are also living a healthy lifestyle.

Whether it's the diet, the lack of activity or isolation of the American lifestyle, as a whole this country isn't living as long as others across the globe, he noted.

"Our work at Blue Zone is helping individuals, families, organization and even communities takes some of those good years back," Buettner said

The age-old myth that ones longevity is genetic is only 20 percent of the truth.

In reality, 80 percent of how long you will live is tied to two things, your environment and lifestyle.

One of the many questions Buettner asked the crowd included the question of what are the two most dangerous years of life?

"The first year you're born is the most dangerous; the second most dangerous is the year that we retire." Buettner said. "It has to do with your sense of purpose, which is the reason you get up every morning."

kmills@postindependent.com