Imagine living in one of the few areas of the world in which the community is famed for its health and longevity. There are five such places known around the globe, and we refer to them as “Blue Zones”. In Blue Zones, people live long and healthy lives. They intertwine exercise into their daily routines, eat healthy plant-based diets, and know the importance of a calm and spiritual lifestyle.
Any celebrity who is a strong advocate of health and wellbeing would feel right at home in a Blue Zone, but some have particularly close connections with Blue Zones around the world. Let’s take a trip around the globe to these inspirational locations and learn a bit more about the celebrities who have been shaped by their way of life.
Zac Efron — Sardinia
High School Musical star Zac Efron may not be a Sardinian native, but if is recent Netflix documentary Down to Earth is anything to go by, he has been truly inspired by the Blue Zone way of life and the Sardinian diet. In episode four of Down to Earth, Zac Efron spent time getting to know some Sardinian centenarians and learning what made them tick.
Along with wellness expert Darin Olien, Zac visited Seulo, the town with the highest number of centenarians in the world. During their stay, Zac and Darin became equated with the Sardinian recipe for health aging, namely, the world-renowned diet. As they get to know some Sardinian food enthusiasts, including local chef Vittoria Murgia, they come to realise that it isn’t just the healthy Sardinian ingredients that make the food of this Blue Zone so powerful, but the fact that it is made with love and paired with community living and regular, gentle exercise.
As Zac so rightly says in the programme, “What better way for us to study this Blue Zone phenomenon than through the local diet?” The simple Mediterranean diet is largely plant-based and includes plenty of flatbread, barely, fennel, and chickpeas.
As the show has since seen huge success around the world, reaching number three on the US watch list for example we are likely to see more people than ever embracing the Sardinian way of life, taking inspiration from Sardinian cooking, and even factoring this Mediterranean island into their next holiday.
Mel Gibson — Nicoya Peninsula
Famed for its vast white beaches and dense juggle landscapes, Costa Rice has long been a holiday hot spot among A-list celebrities. This central American country is a favourite holiday destination for the likes of Selena Gomez, George Clooney, Rafa Nadal, Leonardo DiCaprio, Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé and Jaz-Z, Chris Hemsworth, and Matt Damon — to name but a few!
Mel Gibson however, really embraced the Blue Zone lifestyle when he purchased his holiday home in the depth of the jungles on the Nicoya Peninsula. The Brave Heart star has famously struggled with his mental health over the years and in 2008 he announced in a documentary that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Perhaps his villa in the Nicoya Peninsula became a haven from the demands of everyday life. If so, he couldn’t have chosen anywhere more remote than this secluded Costa Rican spot, famed for longevity and health.
Matthew Modine — Loma Linda
Loma Linda (which translates from Spanish as “beautiful hill”) is a city in San Bernardino County, California. It is a relatively new city that was only incorporated in 1970 but has already achieved fame as one of the world’s five Blue Zones. The inhabitants of Loma Linda, who are mostly descendants and practicing members of the Seventh-day Adventist church, live an average of ten years longer than the rest of the USA.
Matthew Modine, the actor most famous for his role in Full Metal Jacket, was born and raised in Loma Linda. In one interview with Men’s Health magazine, he discussed his simple upbringing and how he learnt to do household tasks from a young age, helping out his family. Household tasks are championed in the Blue Zone mentality, and it is believed that you can get as much out of putting your all into daily tasks as you would dedicating time specifically to fitness.
Modine’s mother was a student of Buddhism, and he learnt a lot from his parents about how to let go of anger and accept life for what it is. Spirituality and mindfulness are both key aspects of Blue Zone-thinking and shared traits of the inhabitants of all the Blue Zone locations.
Tamlyn Tomita — Okinawa
Another longevity hotspot is Okinawa in Japan. The Okinawa islands boast the world’s longest–living women and this area was once even referred to as “the land of immortals”. The inhabitants of Okinawa are also known to have minimal cases of cancer, heart disease, and dementia. One thing that Okinawa residents hold to great importance is their powerful social network, known as a “moai”. This close-knit circle of friends and loved ones is thought to help people live long and healthy lives with a powerful sense of purpose.
This can certainly be reflected in the attitude of Okinawa-born Japanese–American actress, Tamlyn Tomita. In 2019, Trek Magazine noted that Tamlyn Tomita “is always ready to lend her support to community events and organizations, and keeps her life simple, focusing on love, work and family.”
Her community efforts can be seen through her ongoing activism around the theme of Hollywood whitewashing and the part she has played in LGBTQI+ Asian American performing arts festivals.
Tom Hanks — the Greek islands
The Greek islands, and specifically the island of Ikaria, have become famous for their elderly residents who, for the most part, have lived lives free from disease. Combine this with the turquoise water and world-renowned beaches, which make you desperate to throw on your designer swimwear and go for a swim, and it’s no wonder that celebrities have gravitated towards the Greek islands when looking for a second home.
Tom Hanks is married to Greek–American actress Rita Wilson, so it’s no surprise that this Oscar-winning actor feels an affinity with the Greek lifestyle. The Greek locals say that the island getaway is the only place where Hanks and Wilson are “left alone to relax, catch up with friends, throw dinner parties and unwind, away from Hollywood’s demands and flashing lights.”
After the demands of Hollywood, a slow-living Blue Zone environment sounds like the perfect place to unwind!
We can certainly see how all of these Blue Zone locations have either drawn celebrities in or played crucial roles in helping them become who they are today. Perhaps we can all learn a thing or two from these tantalising destinations and embrace a Blue Zone-inspired lifestyle.