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Okinawa, Japan
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Blue Zones
Read dispatches from Blue Zones, our team of longevity experts.

*The expedition runs on weekdays only. The team will not post new voting ballots and dispatches on weekends.

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While the team waits to kick off its first mission, meet some Okinawans and the longevity experts on this expedition.
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Video Transcript

Dan Buettner, Expedition Leader: All right. For the past two years I've been traveling the world looking for pockets where people live the longest, healthiest lives and trying to explain how they do it. The result was a landmark study that appeared in National Geographic.

We traveled to Loma Linda, California, where we found the longest lived Americans to be among the Seventh Day Adventists. We found a tiny, kidney shaped area the size of Manhattan in Sardinia, a place where experts call the Blue Zone, where they have the highest concentration of male centenarians of any place in the world. And finally, we landed here in Okinawa the world's longevity hotspot.

Here people live about seven good years longer than the average American. They have a five times greater chance of reaching the age 100, and they have about a fifth the rate of cancers and heart disease that kill Americans. How do they do it? Something called the Danish Twin Study established that about 25 percent of how long we live is dictated by our genes. Seventy-five percent, or the lions share, is dictated by our lifestyle-something we choose. And because these Okinawans are living so much longer than we are and the majority of that explanation lies in that lifestyle, we came here to figure out exactly how they do it.

(natural sound bite) I cannot think of when I've seen an 80-year-old more excited than this guy.

To help us get at this answer we've assembled a crack team-Dr. Greg Plotnikoff, a pediatrician, who's also the world's top expert in alternative medicine. We have Rachel Binns from the University of Southern Florida, her expertise is love and she'll be looking at how relationships figure into the longevity story. We have a crack team of videographers, people who are not only good at fusing story with journalism, but they can do it in an environment that let's an online audience decide what they do everyday. And then of course we have our photographer Italian Gianluca Colla from National Geographic magazine.

The next ten days we'll be looking at Okinawan longevity. We'll look not only at diet but we'll look at how they shed stress, what kind of supplements they take, how herbal medicines figure into the equation, what role does religion play? We figure there's at least 12 components in their formula for longevity, we'll be looking at everyone. And since the online audience can vote on our progress each day, they'll have input on not only where we go but where we put our resources. At the end of the day how this expedition unfolds is up to you. So get online, vote, and maybe together we can actually find the secret to longevity.



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