You’ve probably heard the stories: The centenarian who credits their long life to eating bacon, eggs, and fried potatoes for breakfast every day… or the one who’s smoked a pack a day for most of their life.
These make for good stories, but we all know the way to stretch your years is to eat right, exercise regularly, don’t smoke, and drink in moderation. Sure, a few exceptions will sneak by. But it’s not like there’s a whole town full of 100-year-old rule-breakers.
Oops… There is.
A town where 3 out of every 20 citizens are 100 or older. And where more people live to 110 than perhaps anywhere else on Earth.
How can this be? Well, science isn’t sure yet. But we have some tantalizing clues. Clues that might help you add more healthy years to your life.
Stumbling On Italy’s Best-Kept Secret
About 70 miles south of Naples, as the crow flies, the village of Acciaroli is tucked tightly between the mountains and the sea. About 2,000 people live in and around the village. And, as I said, some 300 of them have lived a century or more.
In 2012, a doctor from the University of California San Diego visited Acciaroli while on vacation. When he stepped on the beach, he was flabbergasted.
“I was at the beach,” he told the NY Post, “and I saw all these leather-necked, tanned people in their 90s and 100s who looked nine months pregnant and were smoking cigarettes.”
Dr. Alan Maisel had stumbled across a small town where 15% of the residents were 100 or older. And 60 were at least 110!
In the U.S., a whopping 0.02% of the population is 100 or older. So these numbers seemed almost impossible.
But they’re real. And they led Dr. Maisel to partner with an Italian university to study how so many people in the village could live so long. One thing’s for sure: They’re not following all the rules.
Nobody’s Paying the Piper for Living Well
The people of Acciaroli aren’t whooping it up every night. They’re not drunkards. But the do break a lot of the “rules.”
In general, they don’t exercise. They drink plenty of wine. Many smoke. And as Dr. Maisel discovered, they love the sun.
But he also discovered some ways they are “following the rules.” And maybe a few new rules the rest of us should consider.
Most folks in the village don’t exercise… but they are active. They walk all around the village and in the nearby mountains.
They eat simply, and two components of their diet stood out to Dr. Maisel. They eat a lot of anchovies… and a lot of rosemary. (More on this in a moment.)
Folks in Acciaroli also live remarkably stress-free lives. They gather often with family and friends. Evenings at the village gathering-spots are filled with friendly conversation and laughter.
In short, people in Acciaroli live “the good life.”
Is Rosemary the Secret to a Long, Healthy Life?
Dr. Maisel and his colleagues have only begun their work. But they’ve found even Acciaroli’s oldest residents have remarkably good circulation. By some measures, centenarians have circulation similar to most people in their 20s or 30s.
And that’s where all that rosemary may come in.
You see, high blood sugar – now common in most developed nations – leads to production of Advanced Glycation End Products – AGEs. These molecules can block tiny blood vessels. This can deny nutrients to key tissues.
But rosemary contains natural acids that block formation of AGEs… which promotes healthy circulation. Especially in those critical tiny blood vessels.
Anchovies stand out for their Omega-3 content. If you don’t like anchovies, try another wild-caught fatty fish, such as salmon. Higher Omega-3 intakes is linked to heart health, mental clarity… and even less joint pain.
And, of course, staying active and eliminating stress are also big steps towards healthy aging.
It may be years before we know the whole story. Till then, adding a couple of simple lessons from the people of Acciaroli to your life may just add years, as well.
About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.
Laneri, R., “If you want to live forever, move to this Italian town,” NY Post. Apr 12, 2016.
“Remote Italian village could harbor secrets of healthy aging,” University of California, San Diego Health Sciences,” ScienceDaily.com. Mar 29, 2016.
Cockburn, L., “Scientists ‘Find Key to Longevity’ in Italian Village Where One in 10 People Live Beyond 100 Years,” The Independent. Sep 7, 2016
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