Earlier this month, a new documentary from well-known, Welsh-Italian chef Michela Chiappa aimed to find the secret to living to 100. With the average life-expectancy in the UK pegged as 81.50 years, are there lessons we can learn from other parts of the world with higher life expectancies such as Sardinia, which has one of the highest rates of centenarians in Western Europe?
Why diet plays an important factor
We’ve all heard about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and with good reason, especially where Sardinia is concerned. A look at the villages and towns in Sardinia will show a stark difference compared to those in the UK – there are no large supermarkets and fast food outlets are scarce. Instead, emphasis is placed upon eating a diet rich in home-grown vegetables, fish and olive oil, with most of the meat consumed being lean and often reared at home. Processed food is a relatively unknown concept.
A diet full of natural ingredients, cooked lovingly at home is something which is certainly not hard to achieve. If we placed more importance on eating better and shunning the processed, convenience foods we’re so used to eating today, could we soon see a spike in the number of 100 year olds in our nation?
Could family and friends be the answer?
A study by US-based professor, Julian Holt-Lunstad, revealed that social support from family and friends could have more of an impact on our longevity than giving up smoking or obesity. She said, “I don’t think a lot of people recognise that our relationships can have a physical impact as well as emotional,” which could provide enough reason to show that having an active social life and plenty of family support could improve our life expectancy.
If you’ve been a bit negligent on the familial visits of late, use this as an excuse to pay a visit to your loved ones – you never know what effect it might have!
Importance of an active life
With all of that Mediterranean sunshine, Sardinians have no excuse for a healthier lifestyle filled with outdoor pursuits. Many residents work outside, keep patches for growing food and therefore burn off a lot more energy than many of us in the UK. This healthier, more laid back lifestyle ensures a much less stressful existence, which could easily contribute to a longer, happier life.
Making sure you get regular exercise, as well as aiming to be more active during the day can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle, and it’s not too late to change those old habits.
If you’re feeling inspired by the lifestyle of our friends in Sardinia, there is some great information available on the NHS website about eating healthier. Whilst it seems that the secret to living to 100 isn’t that clear cut, a combination of healthy eating, exercise and a strong support network could all have a positive effect on our life expectancy.