EPISODE THREE: MY INTERVIEW WITH BLUE ZONES OG FOUNDER DR. MICHEL POULAIN
Updated: May 14, 2021
BEHIND-THE-SCENES EXPLORING MY BLUE ZONES THEORY
By Lifestyle Host Linda Cooper
Unless you have been living under a rock you’ve heard of the term “Blue Zones” and its five documented regions that boast large centenarian population clusters. Personally, the topic of Blue Zones has fascinated me for years, so I was thrilled to interview its Founder Dr. Michel Poulain on the history how Sardinia became the first Blue Zone region documented and how his research began.
I began studying the Blue Zones phenomena as part of my “longevity side-hobby”, reading everything I could on the subject matter and during my deep dive I found an interesting commonality that each one of the five Blue Zone regions ticked off. This “common denominator” seemed so apparent to me, but I couldn’t find it anywhere in the research which both surprised and perplexed me that this finding was undocumented. Not one to believe in “coincidences”, I delved in deeper like a good “pseudo-scientist” and researched MORE destinations, listed as “the world’s highest reported prevalence of centenarians”, cross-referencing article after article on centenarian studies and dozens of scientific white papers later I was excited to find all of them had the same “X factor” but it was undocumented UNTIL NOW … I knew I had to share my “Blue Zones Theory” with the man who started it all and interview Dr. Michel Poulain on my show “The New 100 Longevity Campaign”. Host Linda Cooper Interviews Dr. Michel Poulain, Blue Zones Founder on “What You Haven’t Heard Yet About Blue Zones” on THE NEW 100 LONGEVITY CAMPAIGNBefore I spill the beans, first allow me to share a detailed account of how the Blue Zone phenomena first came to be. It all began in 2000 when Dr. Michel Poulain was told of a centenarian population in Central Sardinia where the centenarian men were living as long as the centenarian women. This fact actually isn’t well documented but it’s the only Blue Zone region where this occurred, not to mention the fact it’s extremely rare globally as women usually outlive men …especially to centenarian status, on average 5+ years. Skeptical but intrigued, Dr. Poulain an accomplished demographer traveled to Sardinia in 2000 to join Dr. Gianni Pes, a Sardinian Medical Doctor to investigate validating the age of the numerous centenarians in the region.
It was Dr. Poulain who coined the phrase “Blue Zones” thanks to his use of a blue ink pen to zero in on the population clusters with the highest longevity on his map documenting Nuoro, Sardinia as the very first Blue Zone region. Just think if his ink pen had been RED!? Hah… just saying!!:)
The other four Blue Zone regions followed thereafter in cooperation with Dr. Gianni Pes and Dan Buettner, and the three broadened the term, applying it to validate the longevity areas of Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California), the Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica) and Ikaria (Greece). Ok so here’s my Blue Zones theory…
ALL FIVE DOCUMENTED BLUE ZONE REGIONS HAVE A GEOTHERMAL NATURAL RESOURCE EXISTING IN THEIR IMMEDIATE LIVING ENVIRONMENT...
A "LONGEVITY ELIXIR"....
BY CROSS-REFERENCING THE GEOLOGY, HYDROLOGY AND GEOTHERMAL ENVIRONMENTS OF EACH DOCUMENTED CENTENARIAN REGION I FOUND THE PERFECT MIX OF GEOTHERMAL CIRCUMSTANCE TO EQUAL A VERY, VERY LONG LIFE FOR IT'S INHABITANTS.
Before Science could prove it, people — even animals — instinctively knew that spending time immersed in a mineral hot spring made you feel better working its medicinal magic and they’ve been revered by cultures around the world.
Soaking in Geothermal waters is beneficial for health due in large part to the 15 dissolved minerals found in the geothermal water and a process called transdermal absorption.
Geothermal water contains 15 different minerals — boron, calcium, chloride, sodium, sulfate, lithium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, silica, zinc, fluoride, phosphate and nitrogen — each one possessing unique healing qualities.
See this white NIH paper on the Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body
But it’s not just this one factor and the centenarians don’t have to soak in water to receive these incredible health benefits ….
Consider this- What if you received a small, healthful, safe dose of this mineral cocktail every single day of your life in the water you drink and all the food that you eat? All the animals who graze from the land and drink the water are enhanced… All the local vegetation and plant life are enhanced… Everything is exponentially enhanced. Why? Have you ever heard of Heat Shock Proteins?
To get really scientific, please visit these two links Heat Shock Proteins (HSPs) and this study on the Health Benefits of Heat Shock Proteins. But for most of you the “cliff notes” version will suffice:
· Heat shock proteins make healthy cells stronger by protecting cells against stress and injuries, making you more resistant to diseases.
· HSPs act as molecular chaperone proteins that inhibit inflammatory pathways.
· Heat shock proteins increase immune response, reduce free radicals and reduce the biological expression of aging.
In the case of Sardinia, Dr. Poulain created a longevity index range in blue gradient on this Blue Zones map of the Nuoro region featured in this white paper as one of the authors Identification of a geographic area characterized by extreme longevity in the Sardinia island. The Blue Zones epicenter map on the left mirrors the geothermal findings in the diagram (on the right) found in this white paper on the Geothermal Waters Landscape in Central Sardinia. Perhaps the most interesting display of the regions geothermal activity is this study depicting Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA) in Granitoid Rocks, A Case Study from Sardinia (Italy) showcasing the magmatic geological map focuses on the epicenter of Sardinia’s Blue Zone region.
“The Isadalu complex is a highly anthropized area, characterized by the presence of three towns (Talana, Villagrande Strisaili, and Villanova Strisaili). In this area, the outcropping NOA-bearing granitoid rocks are the geological background of strategic infrastructures (dams, artificial lake acting as water supply and as water reservoir, pipes of the local hydroelectric plants and local roads) developed since 1948, and all related human activities represent a clear hazard for the environment connected with the NOA.
”To make a point, I wish to share how surprised I was to find absolutely no mention whatsoever of the Central Sardinia region being a documented Blue Zone in this NOA study AND as if that’s not bad enough, it actually goes on to state in its conclusion this area which has Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA) is considered a health hazard?! Funny right?? I’m sharing this oversight because by now you’re probably also asking the same question I did, because hey, I’m just a broadcast journalist doing my research….
Q: How is it possible all these incredibly bright scientists and researchers managed to overlook the obvious? A: My conclusion is perhaps it’s because each was narrowly focused, looking only to their own specific area of expertise and therefore missed the bigger picture. While each Blue Zone region was extensively researched examining the centenarian’s diet, finding unique longevity biomarkers in their blood and looking to their various sociological factors, the regions environmental geothermal factor was overlooked.
Here’s my research on the remaining Blue Zone regions:
NICOYA PENINSULA, COSTA RICA
In THE NICOYA PENINSULA IN COSTA RICA: This Blue Zone region study found Longer leukocyte telomere length in Costa Rica’s Nicoyan Peninsula: A population-based study. However, this study also overlooks its geothermal factors such as found highlighting The Geothermal Resource in the Guanacaste Region (Costa Rica): New Hints From the Geochemistry of Naturally Discharging Fluids.
In OKINAWA, JAPAN: This geological study on the Hydrothermal Field in the Mid-Okinawa Trough which indicates the importance of oxidants transported through the local seawater circulation associated with its hydrothermal activity.
In IKARIA, GREECE: In this gorgeous Blue Zone region the Tourism Board boasts about Ikaria’s Mineral Springs & Thermal Spas on their websites “Things To Do”…the entire island is “A virtual treasure trove of abundant therapeutic radio mineral hot springs have been identified as amongst the best in the world in terms of healing qualities.”
LOMA LINDA, CALIFORNIA
And lastly, LOMA LINDA, CALIFORNIA which at the time of filming my interview with Dr. Poulain I had not investigated the area whose Blue Zones status had been chalked it up to the healthy living habits of its population; a religious Church group known as the Seventh-Day Adventists. Adventists believe in taking care of one’s body, many are vegetarians, and adamantly eschew alcohol and tobacco but people do that….so I decided to research the Geologic and Hydrologic survey of Loma Linda ….
And Ding-ding-ding…talk about a perfect geothermal longevity storm!
Loma Linda is located in a Valley, (another “longevity cocktail ingredient” in the elixir I haven’t mentioned yet) AND is situated along two fault lines with the Santa Ana River running through it. See this Loma Linda water survey on the incredible minerals saturated along its principal streams yield water high concentrations of calcium, magnesium, sulfate and chloride located in the local Surface Water and Ground-Water supply …and couple this with the fact that Seventh-day Adventists drink a ton of water! At the time of this report which began in 1973, bottled water had not reached the proportions of popularity that it currently enjoys and was not factored into this water study is part of the original Adventist Health Study. Both researchers are also coinvestigators for the new Adventist Health Study. The study was done on more than 20,000 non-Hispanic Whites living in Seventh-day Adventist households in Loma Linda. As I shared previously, I only researched the Loma Linda info after my on-camera interview with Dr. Poulain so it didn’t make it into the Blue Zones episode and here’s one more incredible tidbit I learned DURING the episode interview which I researched further after-the-fact…
“Why did the centenarian men of Central Sardinia live as long as the region’s centenarian women?”
1. Were the living habits of the men in Sardinia different at all from the women who lived in the Nuoro region? 2. And was there anything the men in Nuoro did differently compared to all the other Blue Zone regions centenarian male population?
I was so excited when Dr. Poulain responded that indeed “YES, there was one factor unlike any of the other regions”… In Sardinia, pastoralism has been at the heart of cultural identity for millennia. Such activity has shaped the landscape by sustainably managing its elements over the centuries. For generations these men have “lived off the land” as shepherds herding their sheep for 10 months out of the year, only coming home for a short time to “make babies” and then go back out.
Well, “HELLO…Ding….ding….ding!!!” I proclaimed on the show. That evened the playing field to catch up and live as long as the women!
If the men are “one with nature” in this veritable fountain of youth geothermal environment, consuming the wild vegetation, eating the animals who graze off the land and drink the water from the immediate mineral springs — All of which are loaded with beneficial HSP’s (Heat Shock Proteins) that explains everything!
But what exactly are they eating??
After the show I began researching what food the shepherds of Central Sardinia were consuming and here’s what I found- Wild Food Thistle Gathering and Pastoralism: An Inextricable Link in the Biocultural Landscape of Barbagia, Central Sardinia (Italy) What?! Wow!…”Wild Thistle”? It’s a well-known fact in the longevity world of dietary supplementation that Milk Thistle is the Holy Grail of supplements … The men shepherding the hills of Central Sardinia consumed 22% of raw snacks in their diet according to the study, plucking the vegetation right off the land and the majority of which was the regions Wild Thistle Cardoon! What if its exponentially more powerful grown in the rich geothermal soil of Central Sardinia and how can I get some??:)
I contacted one of the authors Giulia Mattalia to discuss her study’s findings since these shepherds were consuming alot of this raw Wild Thistle as a snack and chewing on it continually as a thirst quencher… Given the circumstance it would seem logical to do a chemical analysis on this particular Wild Thistle specifically grown in the rich geothermal soil of Central Sardinia. During our 2-hour video call I asked her if she had surveyed this as I would love to see if it differed from other milk thistle grown in different parts of the world. And while they hadn’t done so yet, after explaining my Blue Zones theory to her we plan to further investigate so I will keep you all posted! Who knows, I might become a Cardoon Wild Thistle importer as my side-hustle if the results prove to be fruitful!!
To conclude, I’m not pounding my chest proclaiming to have cracked the “Blue Zones Longevity Code”, but I AM sharing there is much to re-examine on the Blue Zones phenomena as well as other geothermal wonders of the world. In fact, Rotorua, New Zealand was on my hit list to feature before Covid hit postponing the filming of Season Three on my travel show, “Travel Time with Linda” where its legendary geothermal phenomena has such intensity its bounty of nature is regarded as a “gift from the gods” by its indigenous Maori people. The Maori tribe consider themselves the guardians of all the hot mineral springs that bubble up in Rotorua and each is known and named by Maori.The waters are known as Waiariki, itself a term of high honour. It means “water of the gods” although it is interpreted as hot spring and these waters are also regarded by Maori as treasures — taonga.
This detailed “Behind-The-Scenes” article is unlike any other I plan to write in the future, (but it was necessary) although waaaay too time consuming! Just look at all the study references below…. I swear I have not given everything away so tune in to watch my Blue Zones episode interviewing Dr. Michel Poulain available now on Flipboard TV…and while you’re at it sign up HERE to watch the entire 10 episode series!
Signing off with a quote by Albert Einstein who said, “Once You Stop Learning, You Start Dying” and that’s not going to be happening on my watch, so I hope to see you on THE NEW 100 LONGEVITY CAMPAIGN and until then… Peace out.
Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body. Authors: Dr. Mooventhan A., Department of Naturopathy clinical, SDM College of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences, Ujire, Karnataka, India.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049052/ Science Direct: Heat Shock Response: multiple authors https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/heat-shock-response Dietary Nutrients and Bioactive Substances Modulate Heat Shock Protein (HSP) Expression: A Review: Carolina Soares Moura,1,* Pablo Christiano Barboza Lollo,2 Priscila Neder Morato,2 and Jaime Amaya-Farfan1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024325/ Identification of a geographic area characterized by extreme longevity in the Sardinia island: Authors: Michel Poulain, Giovanni Pes, Claude Grasland, Ciriaco Carru, Luigi Ferrucci, et al.. Identification of a geographic area characterized by extreme longevity in the Sardinia island: the AKEA study. Ex- perimental Gerontology, Elsevier, 2004, 39 (9), pp.1423–1429. 10.1016/j.exger.2004.06.016 . halshs- 00175541v2 https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00175541v2/document THE COMMON GROUND OF THERMAL BATHS: ELEONORA FIORENTINO, SUSANNA CURIONI & CARLO PISANO Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture, University of Cagliari, Italy https://www.witpress.com/Secure/elibrary/papers/WS17/WS17028FU1.pdf Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA) in Granitoid Rocks, A Case Study from Sardinia (Italy) Authors:Federico Lucci, Giancarlo Della Ventura, Alessandra Conte, Manuela Nazzari, Piergiorgio Scarlato Department of Science, Università Roma Tre, Largo S. Leonardo Murialdo 1, 00146 Rome, Italy, Department of Seismology and Tectonophysics, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Via di Vigna Murata 605, 00143 Roma, Italy, Department of Earth Science, Sapienza-Università di Roma, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Roma, Italy tps://www.mdpi.com/2075-163X/8/10/442/htm Longer leukocyte telomere length in Costa Rica’s Nicoyan Peninsula: A population-based study David H Rehkopf,1,* William H Dow,2 Luis Rosero-Bixby,3 Jue Lin,4 Elissa S Epel,5 Corresponding Author: David H Rehkopf Division of General Medical Disciplines Department of Medicine Stanford University 1265 Welch Road, Room X328 Stanford, CA 94305 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819141/?tool=pmcentrez The Geothermal Resource in the Guanacaste Region (Costa Rica): New Hints From the Geochemistry of Naturally Discharging Fluids Authors: Franco Tassi1,2*,Orlando Vaselli1,2, Giulio Bini1, Francesco Capecchiacci1, . J Maarten de Moor3Giovannella Pecoraino4 and Stefania Venturi2 Department of Earth Sciences, University of Florence, Florence, Italy CNR-IGG Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources, Florence, Italy, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, OVSICORI-UNA, Heredia, Costa Rica, Sezione di Palermo, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Palermo, Italy https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feart.2018.00069/full Microbial Community Stratification Controlled by the Subseafloor Fluid Flow and Geothermal Gradient at the Iheya North Hydrothermal Field in the Mid-Okinawa Trough (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 331) Authors: Katsunori Yanagawa,b Anja Breuker,c Axel Schippers,c Manabu Nishizawa,d Akira Ijiri,e Miho Hirai,fYoshihiro Takaki,a Michinari Sunamura,b Tetsuro Urabe,b Takuro Nunoura,f and Ken Takaihttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4178666/ Ikaria Greece Tourism: http://www.island-ikaria.com/activities/Spas-Therapy Why Loma Linda residents live longer than the rest of us: They treat the body like a temple; Los Angeles Times by Mary Macvean https://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-blue-zone-loma-linda-20150711-story.html Geologic and Hydrologic Features the San Bernardino Area CaliforniaBy L. C. DUTCHER and A. A. GARRETT https://pubs.usgs.gov/wsp/1419/report.pdf Surface-Water and Ground-Water Quality in the Yucaipa Area, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, California, 1996–98 ByGREGORY O. MENDEZ, WESLEY R. DANSKIN, and CARMEN A. BURTON https://pubs.usgs.gov/wri/wri004269/pdf/wrir004269.pdf Save Your Life with Water: Adventist Review Reprinted courtesy of Loma Linda University from the Spring 2002 issue of Scope https://www.adventistreview.org/archives/2002-1542/story3.html Wild Food Thistle Gathering and Pastoralism: An Inextricable Link in the Biocultural Landscape of Barbagia, Central Sardinia (Italy) by Giulia Mattalia, Renata Soukand, Paolo Corvo and Andrea PieroniUniversity of Gastronomic Sciences, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele 9, 12042 Pollenzo, Italy Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Via Torino 155, 30172 Mestre, ItalyMedical Analysis Department, Faculty of Science, Tishk International University, Qazi Muhammad, 44001 Erbil, Iraq https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/12/12/5105/htm 7 Science-Based Benefits of Milk Thistle: Healthline https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/milk-thistle-benefits Rotorua New Zealand Tourism: https://www.rotoruanz.com/things-to-do/maori-culture