How to Live A Long Life, Like So Many Sardinians

How is one tiny island filled with so many centenarians?

By: Felicia LaLomia, ISDA Contributing Editor 

On the small, sandy and mountainous island of Sardinia, researchers have found there are nearly 10 times more centenarians per capita than in the United States. They labeled it the first blue zone, an area or region of the world where people live significantly longer-than-average lives. There are now a number of blue zones around the globe, but with Sardinia being the first, it is one of the most well-known. Here’s a peek at the island’s longevity secrets.

Sant’Antiocho, Sardinia, Italy: A senior fisherman at golden hour with the sea in the background in the fishing village of Sant’Antiocho. 

Look to your elders
In America, it’s common to send elderly people to assisted living living or retirement communities. But in Sardinia, an opposite approach is taken. Elders are revered for their wisdom and often looked to for advice. Many Sardinian families would never think to put their older family members in a nursing home, so instead, they live with their children and are put to work doing what they can: looking after younger generations, cooking, and other simple household chores.

Drink Sardinian wine
The traditional wine in Sardinia, cannonau, is rich in antioxidants and many of the locals drink it regularly. But normally it doesn’t travel far. When you go into a bar or restaurant and order the house wine, it comes from a bottle without a label, from a local vineyard right down the street. Sometimes, it doesn’t even come in a wine glass, but instead a juice glass.

Follow the Sardinian diet
The traditional Sardinian diet consists of whole-grain bread, beans, vegetables and fruit. According to the Blue Zone website, 26 percent of their diet is dairy from goat or sheep’s milk and five percent includes meat and fish.

Take a walk
A typical Sardinian job includes countless steps per day.  A shepherd, for example, could walk up to five miles a day. Having this consistent exercise in your daily routine helps to keep the heart healthy.

Have Sardinia in your blood
Because Sardinia is an island, it is geographically isolated. The genes of Sardinians, for the most part, have remained undiluted. Researchers discovered a genetic marker, called M26, as one found in many of the centenarians on the island and is now associated with longevity. Although not much else is known about it, having M26 does help to predict how long you could live.

So, other than having a Sardinian heritage, many aspects of this lifestyle are achievable. Keep in contact with older relatives, eat whole grains and drink goat’s milk, exercise regularly, and best of all—drink wine!

Alghero, Sardinia: Summer sunset view of the Alghero old town quarter St. Elm Tower – Torre di Sant Elmo.


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