This Italian Island Holds the Secret to Living to 100

There’s nothing particularly healthy about what the people on the island of Sardinia eat and drink, yet the island has dramatically more residents living to 100 plus than anywhere else in Italy or in North America. What’s their secret?

Living to 100

Susan Pinker is a developmental psychologist and author. For her latest book, The Village Effect, Pinker studied how human interaction impacts our lives, including the extraordinarily long lives of Sardinians.

There's nothing particularly healthy about what the people on the island of Sardinia eat and drink, yet the island has dramatically more residents living to 100 plus than anywhere else in Italy or in North America. What's their secret?

Sardinia is a “Blue Zone,” and it’s the only region in the world where men live as long as women. In the developed world, women outlive men by an average of six to eight years. Not only does the island close this gap, but both men and women on Sardinia live much longer, on average, than the rest of the world. Many Sardinians live to age 100 and above.

When Pinker began studying the secret to Sardinians’ longevity, she didn’t begin with social factors. She started by looking at genetics and found that genetics do play a role, but that genetics only account for about one fourth of their long lives.

Sardinia is a dense city. People literally live right on top of each other. Neighbors are always keeping an eye out. And Pinker says that it’s the tight-knit social structure bred by this density that help Sardinians outlive most of the developed world.

In fact, she says that, “Now, social isolation is the public health risk of our time.”

Related: 5 Myths to Stop Believing About Loneliness

The centenarians of Sardinia have rich social lives and deep family connections. Younger family members consider it an honor to look after their older relatives. Those close friends and family caring for them and the daily interactions with their community are the major factors contributing to their longevity.

She also makes a point of distinguishing between face-to-face interactions and the ones we have online. Does texting a friend or family member give us the same benefit as talking in person? The short answer, according to Pinker, is no.

In this fascinating TED Talk, Pinker introduces you to some of the people she interviewed, dives into the science behind human connections and longevity, and explains why “building your village [...] is a matter of life and death.”

Related at Care2

Images via Thinkstock.

47 comments

Marie W
Marie W9 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. Dabout a year ago

Lucky Sardinia!! Right now given who our president is and what he's doing I'm not sure I want to live that long ...

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Elaine W
Elaine Wabout a year ago

O.K. count me in ;)

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Kay M
Kay Mabout a year ago

THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE -GREAT INFORMATION- sincerely KAY M.

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Lorraine A
Lorraine Aabout a year ago

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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Peggy B
Peggy Babout a year ago

NOTED

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Stephanie s
Stephanie Yabout a year ago

Thank you

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Cathy B
Cathy Babout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Winn A
Winn Adamsabout a year ago

:-)

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Winn A
Winn Adamsabout a year ago

Thanks

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