Blue Zones Part 2: Sardinia

Sardinia

Sardinia.  An island off the west coast of Italy, nestled in the Mediterranean sea with Italy to the east, France to the north and Spain to the west.  It is surrounded by crystal clear blue water, has a staggeringly beautiful coastline, and its centuries old buildings provide an old world charm.  It’s inhabitants also have a longevity that makes it one of the world’s blue zones.

Per capita, Sardinia has more centenarians than any other country on earth.  

In the words of Professor Julius Sumner Miller, why is it so?

One common link that inhabitants of Sardinia have is a gene mutation.  The M26 marker is linked to exceptional longevity, and owing to relative isolation, the genes of the inhabitants have remained mostly undiluted.  

Genes aside, diet and lifestyle plays a large part in the overall health and lifespan of residents of this region.

Plant Based Diet

The classic Sardinian diet consists largely of wholegrain bread, beans, vegetables (often grown in their own gardens), fruits and small quantities of mastic oil.  Pecorino cheese, made from sheep’s milk, is also a popular foodstuff, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids.  Meat is usually saved for Sundays and special occasions.

Strong Family Connections

Family values are strong in Sardinia.  Every member of the family is cared for.  Grandparents are central to the family hierarchy, often caring for children, provide financial assistance, and imparting wisdom and traditions to push children to succeed in their lives.  Evidence has shown that those living with strong family connections suffer less from stress, depression and suicide.

Gentle Exercise

Sardinian shepherds walk upwards of five miles every day.  This gentle exercise provides positive effects on muscle and bone metabolism, without the joint wearing of jogging or running.  

Wine in Moderation

Sardinians drink wine moderately.  The wine they drink, Cannonau, has two to three times the flavonoids of other wines. Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds in plants that have a wide variety of health benefits.  The most significant benefits are to cardiovascular health.

Laughter

Have you heard of a sardonic sense of humour?  It means to have a humorous attitude towards people and things rather than being critical.  In the afternoons in Sardinia, you’ll often find the men gathered in groups laughing it up.  Laughter reduces stress, releases endorphins, and has been shown to increase immune cells and infection fighting antibodies.

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