Sardinia, Italy is a small cluster of villages on an island just off the coast of Italy’s boot. Not only does their lifestyle and diet choices play a part in their ability to live long, healthy lives. There are those on the island that seem to have a fantastical genetic difference from others.
The difference comes in the form of the M26 genetic marker. This particular marker is linked to the inhabitants’ long lives. According to more recent statistics, this small island of 1.64 million inhabitants has roughly 10 times more centenarians per capita than the United States.
So, how is it that they’re able to live and thrive into old age? Many factors make up this equation. The first being the Sardinian diet.
Eating Like a Sardinian
While we can’t change our genetics, changing lifestyle in the form of what we eat may be a substantial way to improve health and life longevity, even if in a small amount. For Sardinians, living on an island has much to do with their eating habits. They still tend to hunt, fish, and harvest their own foods. This means they are able to cut out overly processed foods from the start. Not only that, they tend to eat a primarily vegetarian diet with meat being saved for special occasions and Sundays.
But what is this diet exactly? For most centenarian Sardianians, their diet consists of close to 50% whole grain foods. With their most common source of their whole grain being barley. Barley has been used as a way to reduce blood sugar, blood pressure, and even cholesterol. Lending itself to the goal of weight loss for many. In most cases, the grain has been used in medicine to treat things like diarrhea, stomach pain, and even inflammatory bowel conditions.
The next largely consumed part of their diet is dairy products. However, not in the sense of what the western world would use. Unlike the United States which primarily consumes products such as cow milk and cheeses made from said animal’s milk. The Sardinian diet takes their source of milk from sheep and goats instead. The cheese is said to be high in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids tend to reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythms as well as heart attack and stroke. Not only that they’re responsible for slowing the development of plaque in arteries.
Vegetables come next in the diet with meat as mentioned above, being saved for Sundays or special occasions. This includes things like fish and poultry as well. Legumes, added sugars and fats, as well as fruits are limited to a small portion of the Sardinian diet.
All of these things contribute to heart health and overall healthy living. However, the Sardinian diet alone doesn’t cut it. Understanding the lifestyle they live and the exercises they perform may also contribute to a longer life to live.
So let’s take a look at some other lifestyle choices the Sardinian population has made, shall we? Family comes first. In the olden days, this would not have even been a second thought. However, as the world is evolving and changing rapidly, so are family values that used to be the golden rules. But, not for Sardinia. In Sardinia, family values still hold strong and all for the better. Those that live amongst family have a less likely chance of experiencing depression, stress, or thinking of suicide. Not only that, the elders of the family are able to provide their care and love for the younger generations as well as their wisdom and guidance. The children of Sardinia are pushed to excel in their loves which may help overall mental health as they grow. So, you see, the Sardinian diet is more than just “diet”. But it’s not just about respecting elders either.
Because of the lifestyle they live, most Sardinian shepherds walk anywhere from five miles a day or more. The benefit? They’re giving their hearts a good workout, providing themselves with great cardiovascular benefits. Not only that, those that do walk tend to have stronger bones, muscle, and joints. As well as a more rounded metabolism. But you’re probably thinking “I run every day, I don’t need to walk”. But the truth is, running is a joint crippling activity that can cause a great deal of pain later on in life. Where walking is not quite as hard on the joints.
A Plus for Red Wine Drinkers
Probably one of the best benefits for all of the red wine drinkers out there is the fact that in the Sardinian diet, a glass or two of red wine is actually good for you. However, not just any wine will do the trick. For example, that $5 boxed wine you bought at Walmart on sale would be a no go. However, cannonau wine is something to marvel at. It’s specifically made on the island of Sardinia and is said to have a higher count of flavonoids to clean out your arteries with.
Moral of the Story
While we all can’t have the specific red wine mentioned above or the M26 marker that literally marks a person for a longer life. There are things we can do. For one, most of the things that take place on the island from eating, to exercise and family have a foothold in some very important areas. Those areas of our lives that involve reduced stress, healthier hearts, and even a little fun. But what if all of these changes are made but no improvements seem to incur? Then it may be time to think of supplements to increase heart health and reduce stress.
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