Journey to 100 Session 1: The Opportunity – Dr. Michel Poulain [Functional Forum]

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(audience applauding) – Banjour. You see this. This is the way you say bonjour in the original dialect of Guernsey, okay? So, (speaking in foreign language). We start our journey to 100 and you know some major advertise how to become centenarian
and what they propose is to do it in four weeks. (audience laughing) It’s crazy. Nevertheless, to become
centenarian, it takes one century. It’s a long, long way, this journey, okay? Discovering the secret of the centenarian. I started, I was skilled
as astrophysicist. My first job was astrophysicist. Can you imagine to look in the star? But, then I was progressively interested in the oldest old in the village. And in 1992, a medical doctor, a family doctor came at
home and give me a list of Belgian centenarian and I started to be interested in longevity,
and that was the story. And I traveled all around
the world to see centenarian. And look these, what I found there. Look Louis, he’s still
having two pipe per day. A very nice person, huh? Look Hirita, smiling in a
nursing home in Okinawa. Look, wait, Vasilios in Creta. He was drinking raki,
so drinking a lot, okay? And Faustino was going to the market every Saturday morning in Nicoya and very early in morning. At five in the morning,
he was leaving home and going to the market. Antonio, that was a wonderful person. He was the oldest man
at that time in Sardinia and this man was like a baby. I remember. He was telling like a baby. Juan, oh, he was from Menorca and he was signing for me this photograph and looking TV and so on. Oh, he was really wonderful. He die at 114. And Kalmato, Kalmato Ongo from
Kagashima, south of Japan. I bring her some Belgian
chocolates, you see? (audience laughing) And I never been receive any money from Cote d’Or from
Belgian to be a sponsor. I’m still waiting for money from them. And Emma, the last oldest person on earth, she was very nice person because she ate two raw eggs every morning
and crude meat and so. So, all what is not
really Mediterranean diet and she die at 117. But, you see, her medical
doctor, family doctor, was the most important person in her life. Now, just a few words about
how it started with Blue Zone because it’s very important
to know how it started. So, the situation is the following one. I was dealing with centenarian and we were in a meeting
in Montpellier in ’99, so already 18 years ago. And somebody from
Sardinia arrived and say, “In Sardinia in the mountain, “there are a lot of people living longer.” And the same number of men and women. What is amazing, usually women
are surviving longer, so. And every demographic
around the room there say, “This is not true. “They are exaggerating their age. “Old men in this island are
pushing, pushing their age “like they are in the coke houses people “who are 142 or in India, 147, and so, “they do the same in Sardinia.” So, I was invited to go there to check, and I check all centenarian. And after three months in 2000, I was convinced that each
of them was really 100. That was already one big shot. And I should finish my work at that time. “No, I say, this is not the,
this is only the beginning.” and look for it. It was individual longevity
which means one-by-one, one centenarian there,
one centenarian there. And then I switch to population longevity what is fully different. Look, I will show you. From individual longevity,
you will learn a lot, but from population longevity. When the world population
is living longer, that’s wonderful. Look, this is the prevalence
of centenarian in a country. On the left, you have a low prevalence and on the right, you
have a high prevalence. And if you go in the next slide, you have a random distribution
of centenarian on the left and you have a non-random
with a cluster on the right. That’s the starting point. I was going village to
village and what was amazing is that if there were
centenarian in one village, in the next one, there was also one. And, and, and, and I took a map because this is the oldest centenarian that were reported in
Sardinia in the survey. This is the AKE survey and
these are all the centenarian. I said, “Okay.” But, what is important for me, I took a blue pencil, a blue pen. You see this is there. And what I did, I did the following. Wait, it should come there. Ah, it’s there, and the Blue Zone started just because I have a blue pen. (audience laughing) Can you imagine if at that
time it was a red pen? It will be the Red Zone. Wow, it would not be successful. The Blue Zone, the blue is so wonderful. I like blue, okay? So, this is the reason. So, this is the Blue Zone of Sardinia even in the mountain
and that’s why nowaday we are talking about Blue Zone. That was 2000. It took me a lot of energy to demonstrate to my colleague scientists that it’s true because they don’t believe it. It took 15 years to the most suspicious. But, this is because
of this most suspicious came with me to Guernsey six weeks ago that I am in front of you today. Okay, he’s my best supporter today. So, the Blue Zone, what is it? It is an area that is homogeneous. This is limited in space. They have a common lifestyle. They have the same environment
and they live longer. And it’s proof because it’s very important to go in the register
to check if everybody has effectively 100 because there are so many mistake on this point. What is very good in this
case is these people there in this area are born
in the same location, so they have early life
condition that are similar. The second point, they
have the same genetic pool. They are the same story. They have married between themselves. They have also the same tradition, the same food, the same
water, the same air, so you are really in an
area where the condition to do scientific research is the best because everybody share the same story. And that’s very important
for the scientific research. These are the four Blue
Zones around the world. To do this, I cooperate with Dan Buettner, a journalist from National Geographic and he is always asking
me, “Michel, do you have “a new Blue Zone?” So, I discover Costa Rica, Nicoya. That was in 2007. Then, I was planning to go to Ecuador, but I did not find all
the data that were needed to prove that there is an area, a Blue Zone in Ecuador. But, I told him, “There is
probably an island in Greece.” And then, I took all the
data and I discover Ikaria, a very hidden, a lost
island, and this is Ikaria. And for sure, Okinawa is a
traditional longevity area. These are the four one, and we
are working on the next one. So, we will see what
will happen in future, but we need strong data to prove that they are longevity area. That’s very important. I will never go, for example. We are working now on Cuba. If I go to the US and
I say, “Cuba is better “than you in term of life
expectancy and everything,” I need really strong, strong,
strong data to prove it. Okay, you understand me very well? What are the lesson of the Blue Zone? That’s the story. I will go quite quick because I have a very strict schedule. The first one is genetics. Okay, but hopefully, we did
not find any longevity genes. Can you imagine if in the old gens I may say, “You, you
and you, you have genes, “but you don’t have it. “And if you don’t have it, you go directly “to the cemetery earlier.” (audience laughing) Okay, it will be too deterministic. It will problematic. You have it or you don’t have it. So, there was a lot
geneticist that were working to find this genes. Hopefully, they did not find anything. Okay, that’s the first result. But, epigenetics, this is more important. What is it? It’s a fact that the environment may activate or not your genes. And the environment, this is
not only air, water, food, but it’s also the family,
the community environment and all what is around you. So, it’s better because it means that the interaction
between this environment and the genes may bring
you some positive effect. And depending if you
have some genes or not, but the environment is very important. So, we are working. And for scientists, Blue
Zone are very interesting because the environment is the same, so you may easily find,
more easily at least, the real epigenetic trait. So, this is something. Lifestyle, and the lifestyle
you should be very live simply and don’t put money on
the top of the agenda. That’s very important. Look, these shoes or this cup of tea, this is very simple thing. I have some other. Look, is it similar to the one you have at home, this kitchen? (audience laughing) That’s wonderful, huh? Okay, look, the house of Antonio. I just mentioned that the
sofa is not a soft one. It’s just a piece of wood. Okay, and look the roof,
it’s just, it’s very simple. But, what is important is that the daughter is living nearby. That’s very important. This is in Costa Rica. Look Panchita. Panchita is a very nice girl. She die at 105, 106. I don’t remember exactly in Costa Rica. Look, she’s preparing food. She’s 100 there preparing it
only living alone and so on. Food is very important. This is the basic food from Costa Rica, banana and this special
breakfast there on the left. This is very important. The food is very important, but it should be locally grown food. That’s very important. Eat what is produced where you are living. That’s clear and don’t go too
much to the processed food. In Sardinia, on the table,
90% what is on the table come from the village. Ham, cheese, wine, olive, tomato, bread, everything is coming from the village. This is essential. I told you that to be
centenarian, it take one century. Can you imagine that the
centenarian in Guernsey eat banana, kiwi all along their life. No, it’s not true. In the north of Europe, they
eat during all their life carrots, cabbage and potato. Nothing else, and they reach 100. Okay, so be attentive to this. That’s very important. Look, in all of the Blue
Zone, they mention something that is very essential to live longer, the goya in Okinawa. The red pepper, this is from Korea. In Sardinia, this is the culingiones. You have always something, and they are very proud of this, but it’s not the reason
why they live longer. Okay, that’s very important. You have to think about
your physical activity. The way you are acting
every day, moving and so on. Not doing jogging and
fitness and so on, no. This guy is 95. He come from forest with some wood. I was a bit worried that he will fall from the donkey, but he succeeds. Okay, 95, okay. Look, these are the
hands of somebody in Cuba who was rolling cigar during 80 years. Look at these hands. 80 years of rolling cigar there. Look this cowboy. This cowboy is 92. I have to wake up at four in morning to go and take this photograph, yes. Can you imagine? And he used a lasso like this. Wow, it’s 92 and still alive today. And Juan was biking at 108 in the village. This is the one who
signed this photograph. You see his signature
is there on the right. 108, still biking in the village. Okay, wonderful person. So, being active, being move and so on, that’s very important. Also, believe in God. That’s very important. In most of the case, they
say, “I am a believer,” and that’s very important. Look what I found there. This is a cross on the body
of somebody in Costa Rica. It’s very significant, huh? And I think, I believe really that it’s a very strong component of living longer. And in Ikaria, it’s a bit strange because this is the only island that is still communist in the world. And they mix the mark of
the communist and the cross. You see, it’s very crazy. And look, oh, the pinup is
going with the Last Supper. You do everything there. You, no, no, no, no, no, no. Okay, and the family
links are very important. Look this, I would like,
you will appreciate the following clue. This is a wonderful kiss, huh? You see, when you have
this, it’s wonderful. But, all those things are acting together. And so, what about Guernsey? It is a Blue Zone? At least you have a precursor. This Margaret Ann Neve was
the first woman on earth to reach 110, and that’s
why I came six week ago to validate her age. You have the birth
record down there, okay? But, I’m still working on the data. And I was in the Royal Court yesterday and I found 165 centenarian
who die in Guernsey during the last 40 years. But, I’m not yet sure
that it is the Blue Zone. I have to check this. But, what is possible is to
become a Blue Zone community tomorrow in Guernsey and
this is a big challenge because there is a lot of city in the US and in the UK that try to adopt the secret of longevity that are
found in the Blue Zone. And what it is important is not to act directly on people, but to make the environment healthier
so that everybody will have a easily,
will do easily a choice of healthy life, and
that’s very important. And so, therefore, you have
to involve a lot of people. The people that are the normal citizen, the school, the employers and so, all should work together so that it will nudge people toward healthy
way that we live in the future. That’s very important. Look what I found in the
Healthy Life Report of Guernsey. 52% of the population of
Guernsey is considered to be overweight or obese. It’s too much. There is something to do. Some are drinking a bit too much also, and some are smoking. You have only 30% of the population that avoid these three point. There is something to do. The future is very important. Look, the reason they
mention why they don’t eat the healthy food is because
they are too expensive, so there is something to do. Or why don’t move enough, it’s because they need some leisure time. There is a lack of movement,
so this something important. And the involvement in the society, look, these are the proportion
of people in Guernsey that are involved in the society. You see the more important
is 1/4 are sport. 1/8 are involved in the church. But, you see that the other
one are very, very low. That’s very important and to
be involved in the society. So, why not doing
Guernsey, a Blue Guernsey? This is very important. You can transform the society in Guernsey and to make it healthier. You, you, not me. I’m outside of the system. Okay, usually, I say
we, but I say you, okay? Oh, I am a bit too far. This is I would say like Obama. Yes, you can. And why not starting today? This is very important. Look, this girl, she is looking to see in the ocean in the Aegean Sea, and that’s very important
for our future generation. Thank you very much. (audience applauding)


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