Mountainfilm Regular Dan Buettner on Eating Well

Mountainfilm Regular Dan Buettner on Eating Well

As an ex-New Yorker – not really, if you were born there, you are never really “ex” – I remain addicted to the New York Times. On August 2, the Sunday Styles section featured an article by Jeff Gordinier about Telluride Mountainfilm regular Dan Buettner: “My Dinner with Longevity Expert Dan Buettner (No Kale Required).”

Dan Buettner, expert on longevity and happiness and author of “Blue Zones."

Dan Buettner, expert on longevity and happiness and author of “Blue Zones.”

Buettner was one of the many charismatic presenters at Mountainfilm in Telluride 2012, speaking twice at the event based on findings summed up in his two books: “The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest” and “Thrive: Finding Happiness in Blues Zones Way.”

As far as longevity goes, Buettner says it’s “20 percent genes and 80 percent lifestyle.” 

Folks in Loma Linda, California; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Okinawa, Japan; places old people thrive, are all living in environments that encourage constant and consistent natural movement like walking (no gonzo exercise). People living in these places have the right outlook on life: they live for now (not for tomorrow and not to work) and know how to downshift. They eat wisely, which means a plant-based diet supplemented by meat (about three ounces) about five times a month washed down with a glass (or two) of wine. Most important, they value family (and families value their seniors), and share lots of face time with loved ones and close friends. Connection seems to be a sine qua non of longevity.

Pretty much the same holds true for happiness: interconnectedness is key. It’s all about survival of the kindest – fed by a good diet of course.

Discover what Buettner thinks is a good diet  in the “Longevity” piece, for example, coffee is good. Juicing makes no sense. Eat the fruit. He is a huge fan of wild greens, milk thistle, and Japanese yams. Not so much gluten free, which he says is “bogus” 

Read on for the full story.

Dan Buettner and I were off to a good start. He approved of coffee.

“It’s one of the biggest sources of antioxidants in the American diet,” he said with chipper confidence, folding up his black Brompton bike.

As we walked through Greenwich Village, looking for a decent shot of joe to fuel an afternoon of shopping and cooking and talking about the enigma of longevity, he pointed out that the men and women of Icaria, a Greek island in the middle of the Aegean Sea, regularly slurp down two or three muddy cups a day.

This came as delightful news to me. Icaria has a key role in Mr. Buettner’s latest book, “The Blue Zones Solution,” which takes a deep dive into five places around the world where people have a beguiling habit of forgetting to die. In Icaria they stand a decent chance of living to see 100. Without coffee, I don’t see much point in making it to 50.

The purpose of our rendezvous was to see whether the insights of a longevity specialist like Mr. Buettner could be applied to the life of a food-obsessed writer in New York, a man whose occupational hazards happen to include chicken wings, cheeseburgers, martinis and marathon tasting menus.

Continue reading here to fill your plate with practical, life-enhancing tips.

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