The centenarians of Acciaroli
When Dr. Alan Maisel of the University of California first decided to study the area he was chiefly interested because the people didn’t seem to lead such healthy lifestyles. He said:
“We would notice these people were walking around. Some would be smoking, some would be pretty fat as well, and it just seemed [beyond] the usual health benefits of just the Mediterranean diet.”
The amazing thing about Acciaroli is that the local people here live a happy life, and don’t pay much attention to their health. Not only do they smoke a lot, but they also eat greasy, fried fish, drink coffee all day and wine in the evening. They do not spend their time on exercise regimes. They neither jog nor do yoga.
Yet, they do not suffer from the typical chronic diseases that most western elderly people are prone too: illnesses like heart disease, obesity and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Maisel and his team were also surprised that they saw no one over 80 who had cataracts, which most Americans who reach a grand old age are afflicted with.
It's for this reason a study was commissioned to find the secret of the beautiful Italian hamlet.
The 6-month study of the area by Sapienza University and San Diego School of Medicine found that the local inhabitants of Acciaroli have amazingly good blood circulation for their age. After analyzing the blood samples taken from just over 80 elderly people, the researchers realized that each of them had unbelievably low levels of a hormone known as adrenomedullin, which helps to widen blood vessels.
When people age, their bodies usually produce more adrenomedullin, which contracts the blood vessels. This leads to circulatory problems and a whole host of debilitating health issues. Yet, the levels of adrenomedullin in these retired locals are at the same level as those of healthy people in their 20s and 30s.
According to the published results, the scientists found adrenomedullin “in a much-reduced quantity in the subjects studied and seems to act as a powerful protecting factor, helping the optimal development of microcirculation.”
This result brings us to the following questions: What is causing this marvelous occurrence, and can we import the solution to my community?
The Anti-Aging Secrets of Acciaroli
Here are 6 possible candidates for the secret of Acciaroli's residents' longevity. Each of these lifestyle choices seems to do something important when it comes to preserving our health and helping us live longer, and each of them are typical of the people of Acciaroli.
1. Fresh, local food
The residents of Acciaroli generally eat local food, including locally caught sardines and anchovies. The anchovies are eaten in virtually every meal, which is interesting because this fish is full of antioxidants, which reduce cholesterol and inflammation. Many of them keep rabbits and chickens, which they kill for meat. Furthermore, the olive oil, wine, fruit, and vegetables are all locally grown too.
The lack of imported foods means they consume very fresh food, uninfected with pesticides.
Locally grown rosemary is also used constantly here, they even add it to their olive oil. Rosemary is considered to be useful in improving brain function, and the particular varieties grown here are being tested too. It could be that the dozen separate compounds found in this rosemary are especially healthy.
The people of Acciaroli are incredibly active, though they don’t exercise for the sake of it. Because the region is hilly, they are simply forced to drag themselves up and down, around and around, day after day. Yet, you’ll never see them joining a gym.
4. Take it easy and enjoy life
Acciaroli is a quiet little town, far removed from much of the hustle and bustle that typifies modern living. Thus, the people here are relaxed. They enjoy sitting in cafes, where they talk politics, read the newspapers, drink coffee and take it easy. Every day is like a lazy Sunday afternoon here. According to Dr. Maisel, here ‘it’s a stress-free life. There’s a joie de vivre.’ This is important because stress destroys our immune system and eats away at our brain cells.
5. Weather & environment
There is plenty of warm sunshine in Acciaroli, helping the locals get their fair share of vitamin D. It's weather like this that keeps them outdoors and active too. Furthermore, since there is no real industry around here, the air is unpolluted and clean. There is something marvelous about the air that wafts along the town with the cool sea breeze that smells of immortality.
6. Romantic activities
Interestingly, Dr. Maisel believes that the elderly people in Acciaroli spend more time enjoying each other’s bedroom embraces than the average couple. He says: “Sexual activity among the elderly appears to be rampant…Maybe living long has something to do with that.” Could this be the secret cause of long life?
In my opinion, it rings true. Having a joy for life, being in love with someone and spending time with them is such a revivifying feeling that I can well believe it gives us a few more good years to enjoy!
Whichever of these is ultimately found to be the cause of Acciaroli’s longevity magic, you are probably curious to visit the place to see for yourself. The hamlet is 85 miles south of Naples and was famously visited by Mediterranean-diet-aficionado, American nutritionist Ancel Keys in 1950. He was so taken with the area that he remained here with his wife.
And guess what – he also lived to be 100 years old!