Ep 187 – The Blue Zones Blueprint: Unlocking Wellness by Bridging Lifestyle Medicine and Social Determinants of Health, with Dr. Dexter Shurney

The Race to Value Podcast

17-10-2023 • 54 min

Unlocking wellness and reshaping healthcare involves the profound bridge between Lifestyle Medicine and the Social Determinants of Health, a blueprint found in the wisdom of the Blue Zones. Blue Zones are regions of the world where people are known to live longer, healthier lives compared to the global average, often to 100 years of age. These areas have gained attention from researchers and health enthusiasts because they provide valuable insights into the factors that contribute to longevity and well-being.  Researchers have reverse-engineered longevity to find the common denominators and found that these Blue Zones are all places where people enjoy a diet rich in plant-based foods, regular physical activity, strong social connections and community support, and a sense of purpose or meaning in life. Given these lifestyle factors that contribute to the remarkable longevity and well-being of the people in these Blue Zones, we need to find a way to replicate them in our uniquely American society, which is often limited by modern fast-paced living, processed foods, and social structures that de-prioritize these essential elements of health and well-being. If population health success is at the intersection of Blue Zones and Lifestyle Medicine, how can drive the necessary realignment of financial incentives for value-based care? In this enlightening episode of Race to Value, we dive deep into the world of healthcare transformation with Dr. Dexter Shurney, President of the Blue Zones Well-being Institute. He is responsible for creating innovative health and well-being solutions that have broad impact. The Blue Zones Institute is a “Living Lab” to create, study, and codify best practice, including a whole-person approach to care, that can be replicated across regions and communities, including those of greatest need. In this episode, we explore the potential for wellness through the lens of Blue Zones research, discuss the impact that chronic disease has on declining U.S. life expectancy, uncover the profound connection between stress-induced inflammation and chronic disease, and address the impact of both racism and SDOH variables on health equity.  Additionally, we go deep into the tenets of lifestyle medicine and how it aligns with the broader movement value-based care. Tune in for a thought-provoking conversation that unveils the pathway to healthier lives, stronger communities, and a brighter future in healthcare!   Episode Bookmarks: 01:30 Introduction to Dr. Dexter Shurney and the wellness potential of applying Blue Zones research. 03:30 After peaking in 2014, US life expectancy has declined each subsequent year, trending far worse than peer countries. 04:00 Chronic diseases remain our nation’s greatest killer, erasing more than double the years of life as all overdoses, homicides, suicides, and car accidents combined. 04:30 The death rate gap between the rich and poor has grown almost 15x faster than the income gap since 1980. 05:30 We have the answers to address declining life expectancy…but haven’t put in place the right policies to solve the problem. 06:00 Referencing the new Netflix docuseries, “Live to 100:  Secrets of the Blue Zones” 06:30 People living in Blue Zones often live to be 100 and do not suffer from high rates of chronic disease. 07:00 “Blue Zones countries spend far less than the U.S. on healthcare, and their good health is driven by things others than genetics.” 07:45 “Drug overdoses, homicides, and suicides with our youth are all deaths of despair. It touches back to people being lonely and not connected to friends, family, and society.” 09:00 The common denominators of long life expectancy (plant-based diet, regular physical activity, strong social connections and community support, and a sense of purpose or meaning in life). 09:30 Finding ways to replicate Blue Zones in our uniquely American society, which is often limited by modern fast-paced living, processed foods,

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