Are you interested in living a very long and healthy life? Earlier this year researchers were given permission to study the residents of a remote town on the west coast of Italy where inhabitants commonly live to be over 100 years old.
Acciaroli is a beautiful Mediterranean sea side village, remotely surrounded by mountains. It’s one of those special places in the world with an unusually high number of centenarians. 300 of the town’s 2000 inhabitants are in the hundred year club. For such an older population you would expect increased incidences of Alzheimer’s and heart disease, but these conditions are surprisingly low.
Professor Alan Maisel leads a team of researchers that were granted permission to study the inhabitants for the first time to uncover the secrets of their long lives and good health. The research is ongoing but already they have identified some clues as to the locals robustness.
It’s well known that the Mediterranean diet promotes health and lowers the incidence of chronic disease. A diet high in fruits, vegetables and fish promotes low inflammation which is the driving force behind all chronic illness. Olive oil is used a great deal here and commonly poured liberally and uncooked over salads and added to cooking. Mediterranean diets are well studied for their health benefits since Acel Keys first documented them in the 1960’s, so it comes as no surprise that they would add to the health of the population.
Another factor is that the people here grow a lot of their own produce. People grow their own vegetables and keep chickens and rabbits. This means a lot of what they consume is organic, reducing the toxic load on the body. Anchovies are a big part of the Acciaroli diet which are very high in Omega 3’s, know to reduce inflammation and improve the heart and brain. Add in plenty of sunshine, mild weather and stunning natural beauty and it’s bound raise spirits and life expectancy along with it.
Mediterranean diets are common in Italy where the life span is quite high, 83 years on average. So what is it that separates these people giving them their record lifespan achievements? One interesting finding is that the people of Acciaroli consume a high level of the herb rosemary on a daily basis. It goes into everything.
Rosemary is high is rosmarinic acid which is know to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and improve memory. It’s also known to improve cardiovascular function and arthritis. These are age related diseases, so high levels of rosemary may be giving these people a youthful edge. It’s been found in fact that the capillaries of the Acciaroli centenarians resemble those of someone in their 20’s. Quite literally they young at heart.
Exercise and Relaxation
For the people of Acciaroli exercise is a daily part of life walking up and down the steep streets of their home town. Being outdoors is part of the culture and there is plenty of movement in their day.
Old folk in Acciaroli like to spend the day in cafe’s, socialising and relaxing. They drink a lot of coffee which turns into wine in the evening. Interestingly, there is no age difference in the life expectancy between men and women in Acciaroli. Men in this part of the world get to live just as long as their female counterparts. Lower stress in the men’s lives may have something to do with this as well as ……… other passions.
Even in their old age the elders of Acciaroli still enjoy an active sex life. Professor Maisel notes “Sexual activity among the elderly appears to be rampant. Maybe living long has something to do with that, it’s probably the good air and the joie do vivre”. You could put it down to the air, the joy of life or perhaps the cardio enhancing effects of rosemary, but in any case romance in Acciaroli is not just for the young.
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