New Netflix docuseries ‘Blue Zones’ highlights the health benefits of a plant-based diet

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  15th September 2023

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A new Netflix docuseries highlighting the benefits of a plant-based diet has shot into the streamer’s top 10.

Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones features bestselling author and National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner examining the mysterious Blue Zone diet.

According to Netflix: “In the early 2000s, best-selling author & adventurer Dan Buettner collaborated with National Geographic to reverse-engineer a formula for longevity. He scoured the globe for years in pursuit of places where people live much longer than average, and the concept of ‘Blue Zone’ came to fruition.”

Previously speaking to USA Today, Buettner said: “If you want to know what 100-year-olds ate to live to be 100… you have to know what they’ve done most of their lives.”

And so, in the series, he travels to five places in the world where people have the highest life expectancy, in a bid to find out what they are doing that is helping them live a longer life.


Blue Zones

The Blue Zones – the areas in which people have the highest life expectancies – were identified by Buettner and his team and span a range of diverse areas.

They are Okinawa in Japan; Sardinia in Italy; Nicoya in Costa Rica; Icaria in Greece; and Loma Linda in California.

The team analysed the diets consumed by the inhabitants of these areas, and found them to share a major similarity.

According to Netflix: “These five populations each have their own unique secrets, but also share some surprising common behaviours that are proven to promote longevity and health.”

They all consume largely plant-based diets which are made up of mostly whole food plant-based foods.

Buettner identified four ‘pillars’ of the diet which include whole grains such as wheat, rice and corn. The second is greens, the third is tubers, for example, sweet potatoes.

Fourth is beans, described by Buettner as the ‘cornerstone of the diet’ eaten by people in the Blue Zones.

Meanwhile, they eat very little meat and fish, small portions of dairy, and low levels of processed sugar.



One of the topics Buettner discusses in the series is protein.

Speaking in one episode, he says: “Richer countries are fixated on getting protein from meat to build muscle.”

However, the show notes, humans are able to consume all the protein they need from plants, and thereby avoid the negative health consequences connected to eating meat.

Buettner believes it is the advantage that plant protein offers over meat – being lower in calories, and free from cholesterol and saturated animal fats – that may play a major role in the increased life expectancy of those in the Blue Zones and the lower levels of chronic diseases.

He also looks at how in the Blue Zones, these meals are typically shared with friends and family, and considers how this social and spiritual aspect may also help improve health and longevity.

Netflix says of the series: “Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones takes viewers around the world to investigate the diet, behavior and lifestyles of those living the longest, most vibrant lives. Buettner gains insight on how we might live longer by following their leads, because the things that make a long, healthy life are the same things that make life worth living.”

Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones is currently available to screen on Netflix now.

Planning to live to 100? Find out how over 50s can thrive on a vegan diet

Featured image © Netflix

Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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