The secrets of living to 100

Researchers are particularly interested in rosemary

(Credit: CNN)
(Credit: CNN)

(CNN) – Researchers are trying to discover why some people live an extremely long time.

They’ve identified five regions around the world with the highest concentrations of men and women who are more than 100 years old. They’re called “blue zones” and include: Sardinia, Italy, Ikaria, Greece, Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California, and Nicoya, Costa Rica.

We’re now learning about yet another Italian city where people are living to a ripe old age.

Giuseppe is ninety-four years old. He still tends his own garden, still hangs out with the younger guys and watches their card game, and still enjoys the company of the opposite sex.

Giuseppe lives in the southern Italian town of Acciaroli, where one in ten residents is more than a hundred years old, where living well beyond the already impressive average Italian life span of eighty-two is the norm. Earlier this year, Rome’s Sapienza University and the University of California San Diego launched a study to see why people there live so long, and so strong.

It was in the villages along this coast that American nutritionist Ancel Keys identified what is now known as the Mediterranean diet. Delia Morinelli, a spring chicken at 79, was Keys’ cook, and now runs a restaurant specializing in that diet of local fresh herbs, vegetables, fruit, and fish.

Morinelli said, “Because we eat natural things, things that we grow, we know what’s there.”

Researchers are particularly interested in rosemary, which they suspect helps circulation to the brain, and might explain why Alzheimer’s is uncommon there.

Ben Wedeman noted, “Obviously diet has a lot to do with the longevity of local residents, but clearly there are other factors. There is no pollution, you’re right by the sea, the weather is very nice, and there is almost none of the stresses of modern life.”

Antonio Vassallo celebrated his hundredth birthday recently. He attributes his long life to, in his words, “This beautiful woman; the woman of my life.”

Amina, a spry ninety-three, continues to write poetry, and recite it from memory. You can’t quantify it, but love also plays a role.

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