Do Sardinians live for a long time?
Well, compared to the rest of the world, yes, Sardinians do tend to live for a long time!
Sardinia has one of the highest percentages of people over 100 years old in the world.
To put this into perspective, on average, for every 100,000 people living in Sardinia there are about 24 centenarians. That’s nearly 10 times the number per capita in the USA…
This obviously seems like a lot, but in Sardinia’s “Blue Zone” there are nearly 3 to 5 times that number!
What is a Blue Zone?
Blue Zones are regions of the world where people live much longer than average. The term was originally coined in a 2005 National Geographic magazine cover story, “The Secrets of a Long Life”.
Sardinia is one of only five Blue Zones in the world identified as having residents who often reach 90 years-old or more.
The four other Blue Zones are:
- Okinawa island in Japan
- The Nicoya peninsula in northwestern Costa Rica
- The Greek island of Ikaria,
- A small population of Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California.
Where is the Sardinian Blue Zone?
The Sardinian Blue Zone actually falls into a pretty small area, 14 villages to be exact. These villages are separated from the rest of the island by the Gennargentu mountains.
Each of the 14 villages mainly fall into the historical areas of Ogliastra and Barbargia, in the province of Nuoro.
This area of Sardinia has 3 times the number of centenarians than in the rest of Sardinia and mainland Italy. If you stop and ask any local, odds are they know at least one person who has lived past 100.
Clean Air and Healthy Living
Ask any Sardinian about the ‘secrets’ to long life, and they will openly tell you that it’s no secret. Most centenarians maintain that it’s due to “clean air and healthy living.”
This could very well be a possibility. The areas of Ogliastra and Barbagia have almost zero heavy manufacturing. This coupled with the fact that it’s pretty windy in Sardinia, means that the air quality is some of the best in Europe.
The maestrale – the Italian name for the strong northwestern wind – is said to purify the air and water, ridding them of pollution, and bringing good health to the island’s population.
Another factor that could possibly explain the amount of people living past 100 is the lifestyle. Elderly people in Sardinia, especially in the countryside, tend to be very active.
The favourable Sardinian climate aids this fact as the temperature rarely goes below freezing. Winter weather is also generally mild and sunny.
Elderly Sardinians have a more active life than some younger people I know back home! Tending vegetable gardens, cooking, socialising in the square, or playing bocce with friends are all popular past-times.
Some people seem to think genetics also play a factor in the longevity of Sardinia’s population.
Studies have been undertaken to understand if it’s healthy living, or good genes that allow people to live so long. In all, four databases of DNA samples have been collected over the years.
In 2016, a British biotechnology company, AIM-listed Tiziana Life Sciences, caused controversy when it purchased blood samples of 13,000 Blue Zone residents from a failed company, SharDNA SPA.
The blood donors originally agreed to give samples in the name of science, but were not very happy when the samples were then sold for profit.
Why do Sardinians live so long?
All in all, we don’t really know why Sardinian’s tend to live so long compared with the rest of the world. It could be genetics, it could be diet, or it could be their environment.
Personally, I have a feeling it could be the great Sardinian food!
This short video from wocomoDOCS on YouTube does a decent job at trying to explain a few of the different factors…
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