Studies in different areas of the world have tried to identify the common causes of extraordinary longevity. In Europe and Asia, certain villages, valleys, and islands are home to a large proportion of healthy octogenarians and nonagenarians. This is the case of Sardinia in Italy and Okinawa in Japan.
What factors contribute most to an optimal health?
Medical research has identified the
elements in local diet that help residents maintain an excellent health
at an advanced age. Some factors, such as landscape and climate, are
linked to specific areas; other determinants, those of a more general
nature, can contribute positively to human vitality irrespective of
It stands to reason that the driving factors of
extraordinary longevity must correspond to those of excellent health.
The issue is to identify elements that we can take up in our daily life
without incurring disproportionate effort and expense.
Even if we
possessed evidence that some exotic herb is the key to excellent
health, such knowledge would be of little help to people who cannot
afford to purchase that plant on a regular basis. What we need are ideas
that are, at the same time, beneficial and workable.
What we need are beneficial and workable ideas
of Sardinia, located in the Mediterranean Sea, is a favourite vacation
destination for many Europeans. Its weather and landscape, however
beautiful and pleasant, are not much different from other locations
around the world. This factor alone renders the study of longevity in
Sardinia particularly interesting.
Lessons drawn from the diet in
Sardinia can be applied in other regions of the globe. This aspect is
crucially important, since studies conducted in other areas of the world
often link the enviable physical condition of youthful nonagenarians to
herbs and plants that are unavailable to the populations of other
Another remarkable outcome of the research carried out
in Sardinia lies in the apparent simplicity of the formula. In
contrast, if you have read any modern book on nutrition, you will have
noted the extreme complexity of the advice it presents. Page after page
are filled with long lists of recommendations and tables showing the
specific dosage of each ingredient. Who can remember all that?
in business, success in health matters tends to depend on just a few
factors. Minute instructions telling salesmen how to close a deal are
useless in a commercial environment. Life is too fast for knowledge that
cannot be summarized in a small number of consistent principles. The
human mind is constructed to reduce knowledge to the essential and
forget cumbersome details.
What are the few factors behind the
excellent health of the elderly living in Sardinia? The conclusions of
the research can be presented in five rules that are logical and easy to
remember. These recommendations can be practised inexpensively by
individuals in most countries of the world.
 Eat fresh food,
above all vegetables and fruit: This truth may seem deceptively
self-evident. In reality, few people make the effort to select fresh
ingredients for their meals. The great majority of packaged food,
whether intended for breakfast or dinner, does not contain fresh
vegetables or fruit.
If you eat out frequently, you might go a
long time without tasting fresh ingredients, except for the occasional
salad. Can you figure out alternatives so that you consume more
vegetables and fruit? What can you do to reduce your dependence on
The reason why few people consume fresh food has
to do more with inconvenience than expense. Eating fresh fruit and
produce requires frequent visits to the supermarket, to the detriment of
more pleasurable activities. Are you willing to make the necessary
effort to protect your health?
 Use olive oil: Extra virgin
olive oil is consumed widely in Mediterranean countries. Italian, Greek,
and Spanish cooking include olive oil as necessary ingredient in many
dishes, as well in salads, marinades, and sauces. The use of butter and
margarine for cooking is considered an inferior choice for your health.
retail price of olive oil has diminished in the last decade due to
changes in packaging. The traditional dark green glass bottle has been
replaced by a hard plastic bottle of the same colour, which seems to
preserve the characteristics of olive oil equally well.
don't live in a region where olive oil is in abundant supply, you might
have to pay a few additional dollars per bottle. All in all, the
decision to incorporate extra virgin olive oil in your diet might
increase your food budget by a couple of hundred dollars per year, which
is a modest investment if you consider the advantages for your health.
Lemons and oranges: Citrus fruits contain high doses of vitamin C,
which reinforces our immune system and helps combat cardiovascular
disease. Vitamin C is also known to protect human cells against the
accumulation of noxious substances.
Fresh oranges and lemons are
available in most regions of the world at reasonable price, depending on
the season. Grapefruit, papaya, strawberries, and mango are good
substitutes for oranges and lemons.
Amongst the vegetables,
vitamin C is also abundant in spinach and broccoli. Irrespective of your
place of residence, eating citrus or similar fruits is an affordable
habit that you should acquire.
 Eat fish often and,
occasionally, lean meat: The reason behind this recommendation lies in
the beneficial type of fat that is present in fish. Fish, in particular
oily fish such as mackerel and sardines, is rich in a type of fat known
as "omega-3." This element has proven to reduce dangerous cholesterol in
Fresh fish is a major component of the traditional
Greek, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese diets. Unfortunately, this
dietary habit has declined in the last decades, leading to an overall
deterioration of the health level of the population.
whose consumption is known to be particularly beneficial, is neither
part of the traditional diet of Sardinia nor widely available across the
world. Luckily, in most countries, you can find at least one or two
types of fish that are affordable. Eating fish is a habit that you can
easily take up and which can bring substantial advantages to your
 Drink alcohol rarely (and if you drink at all, then mainly red wine): The red wine
produced in Sardinia, in particular the type known as "vino nero" due to
its dark colour, contains high doses of poly-phenol. This element,
which comes from grape skins, has been proven to have a positive effect
on the human cardiovascular system.
The consumption of red wine
might explain why extraordinary longevity in Sardinia is mostly a male
characteristic. Octogenarian and nonagenarian women are also present in
the island, but their number does not reach the unusual proportion of
healthy elderly men.
Red wines produced in other countries may
contain less poly-phenol, but a moderate consumption should also produce
a beneficial outcome for your health unless there are specific reasons
that advise against your consuming any alcohol at all. Quality red wine
is available around the world at reasonable price and most people love
Can you improve your health by following a few simple rules?
If you want to improve your overall health, forget
about complicated rules. In the field of business, successful
entrepreneurs know that the best results are obtained by concentrating
energies on essential areas. Similarly, when it comes to enhancing our
vitality, we will be better off if we acquire a few effective and
For more information about rational living and personal development, I
refer you to my book The
10 Principles of Rational
Image by Rob Lee under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license
terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us
Tuesday, 27 August 2013
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