Book Review: Healthy at 100 by John Robbins

The Longevity Lifestyle Book Everyone Should Own

Healthy at 100 Book
Image by Ballantine Books

In his book Healthy at 100, John Robbins (of Baskin-Robbins fame) asks why some people reach old age only to suffer chronic disease, failing health, and depression while others age joyfully and full of vitality. Like many of us who study longevity and aging, Robbins doesn't believe that the physical and mental disorders that are so common in old age in our western culture are simply part of the natural aging process -- and he can prove it.

Robbins is on a crusade to change the way Americans live. In Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples, Robbins examines the culture, diet, and lifestyles of some of the world's longest living people.

Book Overview: Healthy at 100

With this revolutionary book, John Robbins officially shifted his life's focus from his career in the famous family ice-cream business to becoming a best-selling author and a leading voice in the movement to educate Americans on what makes for a truly healthy, "anti-aging" diet. Healthy at 100 goes beyond your typical healthy lifestyle book with an examination of the distinct cultures that are known for their longevity; that is their remarkably long and healthy lives.

These are areas in the world known as “blue zones.” These unique places are the home to unusually long-lived peoples. Robbins examines four of the most famous:

The book reviews what is known about the nutritional and exercise habits of the people of these areas and in 384 pages effectively summarizes the most notable aspects of these cultures’ lifestyles.

Most importantly, Robbins provides sensible recommendations based on the research for Americans to adopt for longer, healthier lives. What he finds should not come as surprise: Americans must change their ways and approach to aging if they want to enjoy true longevity.

Expert Book Review: What Readers Will Get from Healthy at 100

Of the most impressive aspects of Robbins' book is its interesting and readable accounts of different cultures which make for the perfect compelling evidence for the changes he wants to see in American's lifestyles. Robbins' approach goes beyond the important aspects of diet and exercise to a more holistic approach that also emphasizes the importance of our attitudes towards aging.

In fact, some of the more interesting accounts are not of the diets and exercise profiles of these people, but of their attitudes toward aging. Because chronic illness is rare and the cultures are traditional, older people are highly valued. According to Healthy at 100, in one culture, siblings even fight about who gets to take care of their grandparents.

Though well written, Healthy at 100 lacks critical assessment of the claims of these peoples and would be strengthened by more scientific discussion of their diets and lifestyles.

But at the end of the day, Robbins’ discussion of these cultures makes for a truly fascinating read and teaching moment. His main point is that while claims of extreme old age (like those who claim to be more than 120 years old) are probably false, there is still a lot to be learned from these people who often reach their 90s with no sign of heart disease or other chronic illness. To live long and live well, we should all take some lessons from the people of the “Blue Zones.” I recommend that every American takes the opportunity to read Healthy at 100, before it's too late.

More Longevity and Healthy Aging Books

Looking for more great books on longevity and healthy aging?

Be sure to check out the Top 10 Longevity Books for more great resources and book reviews.