The residents in Acciaroli, Italy, live for a long time. The average age for a woman in this picturesque, idillic southern Italian town is an astonishing 92. This is much older than the average Italian and much much older than the average westerner. But why do people here live so long?
A recent study claims to have found a number of interesting things about this group of people.
They have astonishing blood circulation
The study found that people living in this area had very low levels of adrenomedullin, a hormone that, if in high levels, can cause blood vessels to contract and, therefore, decrease blood flow. In fact, their levels of this hormone were more like you would expect in someone in their 20s.
Having a good blood supply is essential to feeding the organs and muscles with the nutrients they need, and getting rid of the waste products that they produce. Conditions that are linked with poor diet and inactivity, such as type 2 diabetes, are known to affect circulation.
Exercise and a good diet, on the other hand, are known to increase the number of capillaries in the body, and, therefore, improve circulation.
They have sex..alot
One of the researchers commented: ‘the sex here is rampant’. Sexual activity has long been known to decrease levels of stress hormones in the body, and stress hormones have been linked to shorter life spans.
Their diets are all very similar
The issue of diet has been debated for decades. Fat is good for you. Fat is bad for you. You should only consume mono-unsaturated fats. Sugar is evil. Complex carbs are evil. The list of claims goes on and on and if you look hard enough, you will find a fairly good scientific paper to back all of them up. Yep. All of them.
But the fact of the matter is, in this little town, the people eat locally caught fish, rabbits and chickens as well as olive oil and home-grown vegetables and fruit. Basically it is a typical ‘mediterranean diet’.
They also all eat a lot of rosemary, which is thought to help improve brain function.
They don’t have many diseases
They don’t seem to have the sort of chronic diseases that are major in the west such as heart disease, obesity and Alzheimer’s. They also don’t seem to develop cataracts, which, elsewhere in the westernised world is very common in the over 80s.
The bottom line
The actual reasons why these people are living longer than everybody else remains a mystery. Is it the rosemary? Is it the Mediterranean diet? Is it the sex?