McFarland Clinic

Blue Zones: Support Healthy Living in Your Community

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February 3, 2012


Iowa Governor Brandstad has set a goal of making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by the year 2016. 
What is the Blue Zones Project?
Blue Zones Project is a collaboration between Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Healthways to help make Iowa #1 in the nation for well-being as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index®.  The Blue Zones Project is the nation’s first, state-wide, comprehensive well-being improvement initiative. It brings permanent changes to policy, environment and social networks that lead to lower health care cost trends, higher productivity and improved economic and social vitality.
The Blue Zones Project is a main component of the Healthiest State Initiative. It encourages all Iowa communities to become Blue Zones Communities over the next five years. Through a selection process 10 Iowa communities will be selected to receive assistance from international experts to turn their community into a Blue Zones Community. These communities will in turn share their experiences with others who are adopting Blue Zones principles.  
What are Blue Zones?
Blue Zone is an organization founded by National Geographic author and researcher Dan Buettner, Blue Zones® studies the longest-lived cultures on earth and shares their secrets.  Blue Zones scientific research and longevity studies have produced lifestyle management tools, content, and products that help people live well, longer. 
What are the principles of Blue Zones?
Researchers found that people who live in Blue Zones share nine common lifestyle behaviors that have a direct impact on their increased well-being and longevity. These principles called Power 9 Principles are as follows:
  • Move Naturally: We get more physical activity naturally if we live in walkable communities, de-convenience our homes, and grow gardens.
  • Know Your Purpose: People who know why they wake up in the morning live up to seven years longer than those who don’t.
  • Down Shift: To reverse inflammation related to every major age-related disease, find time each day to meditate, nap, pray or enjoy a happy hour.
  • 80% Rule: It takes your stomach 20 minutes to tell your brain it is full, causing most people to accidentally overeat; so stop eating when you feel 80% full.
  • Plant Slant: Eat mostly a plant-based diet that is heavy on beans, nuts, and green plants. This is consistent with the USDA’s MyPlate recommendations to make fruits, vegetables and grains the majority of your intake.
  • Wine at 5: If you have a healthy relationship to alcohol, one to two glasses of wine daily could help add years to your life, especially when consumed with a healthy diet.
  • Family First: Living in a thriving family is worth half a dozen extra years of life expectancy. Invest time in your kids, nurture a monogamous relationship, and keep your aging parents nearby.
  • Belong: Recommit, reconnect, or explore a new faith-based community. No matter which faith, studies found that people who show up to their faith community four times a month live an extra 4-14 years.
  • Right Tribe:  Your friends have a long-term impact on your well-being. Expanding your social circle to include health-minded, supportive people might be the most powerful thin you can do to add years to your life. 
How to get involved:
  1. Go to or text BZP to 772937.
  2. Pledge your support to make our town a Blue Zones Community™.
  3. Ask others to do the same!

Learn more about the Blue Zones Project at

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