Blue Zones: A Review of the Netflix Documentary

Written by Charly Kelly (Sheffield Hallam University Nutrition and Dietetics Student)

‘The things that make you live longer, are the things that make life worth living’.

This is a summary of the key takeaways from the Live to 100, Secrets of the Blue Zones Netflix Documentary. Dan Buettner’s travels around the world have led him to discover five unique communities where people live remarkably longer, more vibrant and happy lives (Known as Blue Zones). He developed a formula for longevity based on shared practices, values, diets and traditions. Here is a breakdown of four key takeaways from centenarians around the world, that can be implemented to improve your quality of life and its duration.

1. Outlook – Finding your purpose

A shared value of purpose was prominent within the communities of individuals who live longer lives within Blue Zones. From phrases such as ‘Ikigai’ from the Japanese blue zone ‘Okinawa’, which refers to purpose of both the mind and body, to the phrase ‘plan de vida’ from Costa Rica’s Nicoya, meaning the reason to live. Establishing a purpose and a strong will to find meaning has been shown to sustain health and well-being. It has been suggested that establishing your purpose can provide improved outcomes including life expectancy, satisfaction, mental and physical health (KcKnight et al., 2009). Not only can purpose in life act as critical motivation but also may serve as an important component of healthy identity formation (Bronk, 2011).

2. Eat Wisely – Establishing a varied and nutrient rich diet

The documentary highlights the importance of a nutrient rich diet. The show demonstrates that these long living individuals have managed to achieve their dietary requirements through a large variety and diversity of nutrient rich foods. Emphasising that no one single ‘superfood’ ingredient, a marketing term used by companies with no medical definition, is responsible for optimised health and longevity. Contrary to the ‘super food’ products heavily promoted within media, health literature has stated that no single food may be as nutritious to be stated as a superfood’ (Gupta et al., 2021).

Wine, an alcoholic drink enjoyed by many, was associated with longevity within the documentary. Within research there are some existing studies that suggest light to moderate wine intake can reduce mortality, and is a known part of the Mediterranean diet (Van de brand, 2020; Giacosa et al., 2016) ). However there are very few studies available on alcohol and reaching longevity. It is important to outline that binge drinking (high quantity intake) of alcohol has an inverse relationship to longevity and increases mortality (Hartz et al., 2018).

It is crucial to outline that research has determined that alcohol has a significant relationship with life threatening conditions (Shield et al., 2014). The World Health Organisation (WHO, 2023) suggesting that no amount of alcohol is safe. Alcohol is declared as a Group 1 carcinogen, and is clearly identified as a cause for some of the most common cancers (WHO, 2023). Contrasting to the advice provided in the Blue Zones documentary that intake of ‘better quality’ wine is important for longevity, the World Health Organisation have stated that any beverage containing alcohol, regardless of its price of quality, poses rick of developing cancer (WHO, 2023).

3. Move Naturally – Improving health through movement

The communities within the Blue Zones share a common practice of regular movement and exercise within their natural environment. From squatting, bending and balancing during gardening, to engaging core stability and improving cardiovascular health through daily walks on steep paths in their local villages. Research has suggested a link between everyday movements/activities and successful aging. With social and productive activities shown to improve health, increase longevity and provide a sense of engagement in life (Menec, 2003).

The documentary highlighted that that there is a current over reliance of technology and transport to complete tasks previously done by hand, such as house work, cleaning or making food. Activities that move the body naturally, without the requirement of exercise equipment, yet also contribute to a sense of purpose and open opportunities for connection and time with others. Natural everyday movements that often go unnoticed, could be implemented to your day to improve health and longevity, for example taking the stairs rather than the elevator (Vernikos, 2011).

4. Connect – Creating and maintain supportive relationships

The centenarians within Blue Zones all share the presence of strong relationships and connections within their life, which ultimately provides an effective support system for longevity. Research has shown that there is a strong link between enhanced social relationships, particular those that involve leisure activity, and better health in older adults (Chang et al., 2004). High quality couple relationships are also linked to high levels of overall wellbeing (Coleman et al., 2023), while a lack of stable relationships is linked to health complaints and mortality rates (Feeny, 2015). It has been stated in literature that humans have a fundamental need to ‘belong’, as our evolutionary past demonstrates that establishing and maintaining relationships and connections increased chances of survival (Leary et al., 1995). Therefore taking time to connect and interact with others can not only be an enjoyable experience but also extremely beneficial to your health and wellbeing.


Overall this is an enjoyable and informative documentary to watch. It can help to summarise the actions that can be taken to extend and improve the quality of the years in your life. Dan Buettner demonstrates how his findings can be applied to a population in America to improve their quality of life and overall health. Although some advice is potentially misleading for viewers, such as alcohol being categorised as a core element for longevity. It is an insightful and wholesome documentary with some beneficial take aways, demonstrating that ‘the things that make you live longer, are the things that make like worth living’.

To read more on the Worlds Health Organisation view on alcohol intake vist: To read more about Blue Zones visit –

If you want to watch the full documentary, you can find it on Netflix – Watch Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones

Reference List

Bronk, K.C., 2011. The role of purpose in life in healthy identity formation: A grounded model. New directions for youth development, 2011(132), pp.31-44.

Chang, P. J., Wray, L., & Lin, Y. (2014). Social relationships, leisure activity, and health in older adults. Health Psychology, 33(6), 516.

Coleman, L., Mitcheson, J., & Lloyd, G. (2013). Couple relationships: Why are they important for health and wellbeing?. Journal of health visiting, 1(3), 168-172.

Feeney, J. A. (2015). Close relationships, health, and wellbeing. Psychosocial dimensions of medicine, 137-150.

Giacosa, A., Barale, R., Bavaresco, L., Faliva, M. A., Gerbi, V., La Vecchia, C., … & Rondanelli, M. (2016). Mediterranean way of drinking and longevity. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 56(4), 635-640.

Gupta, E., & Mishra, P. (2021). Functional food with some health benefits, so called superfood: a review. Current Nutrition & Food Science, 17(2), 144-166.

Hartz, S. M., Oehlert, M., Horton, A. C., Grucza, R. A., Fisher, S. L., Culverhouse, R. C., … & Bierut, L. J. (2018). Daily drinking is associated with increased mortality. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 42(11), 2246-2255.

McKnight, P.E. and Kashdan, T.B., 2009. Purpose in life as a system that creates and sustains health and well-being: An integrative, testable theory. Review of general Psychology, 13(3), pp.242-251.

Menec, V. H. (2003). The relation between everyday activities and successful aging: A 6-year longitudinal study. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 58(2), S74-S82.

Shield, K. D., Parry, C., & Rehm, J. (2014). Chronic diseases and conditions related to alcohol use. Alcohol research: current reviews, 35(2), 155.

Troesch, B., Biesalski, H. K., Bos, R., Buskens, E., Calder, P. C., Saris, W. H., … & Eggersdorfer, M. (2015). Increased intake of foods with high nutrient density can help to break the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition and obesity. Nutrients, 7(7), 6016-6037.

Van den Brandt, P. A., & Brandts, L. (2020). Alcohol consumption in later life and reaching longevity: the Netherlands Cohort Study. Age and ageing, 49(3), 395-402.

Vernikos, J. (2011). Sitting Kills, Moving Heals: How Everyday Movement Will Prevent Pain, Illness, and Early Death–and Exercise Alone Won’t. Linden Publishing.

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