There have been reports of extraordinary life spans in some individuals, notably in inhabitants of the island of Sardinia where, it is believed, a larger proportion of men than anywhere else in the world survive to 100-plus. According to recent studies, Sardinia is the best place for grandfather! Our Guinness Record is to have more then 135 ultra-centenarian per million inhabitants and this is an underestimation. There, surprisingly, the men and women longevity ratio is 1:1 while all over the world it's 1:7. The great strength of this beautiful island is the almost pollution free environment and the natural food for a balanced diet.
In the village of Tiana in the Sardinian mountains Antonio Todde celebrated his 112th birthday on January 22 this year. Antonio was the oldest documented man in the world in 2000-2002, and briefly the oldest person in the history of Italy.
Antonio is a shepherd living high in the mountains, where he has welcomed hundreds of pilgrims wishing to congratulate him on his extraordinary longevity. Similar phenomena reported from the Caucasus, the Andes, western China and the Japanese island of Okinawa have been doubted, since no proof of date of birth has been available, but in the Sardinian instance there seems little reason to doubt the years claimed. Age in Roman Catholic countries has always proved more reliable than elsewhere, since certificates of baptism have been available for many generations and guesswork is ruled out.
In most countries where reliable data are available, five women reach their century for every man who does so. But researchers at the University of Sassari have found that in Sardinia the female–male ratio is only about two to one, and that in its mountains there are roughly equal numbers of men and women centenarians. The isolation of villages there provides an area of genetic restriction where research can be carried out.
It is estimated that there are some 100,000 centenarians world-wide, and that the numbers are increasing. Currently the oldest person known is a French woman aged 114 years. In Sardinia more than 50 instances have been verified beyond doubt, where the age of 100 has been exceeded.
Mortality after the age of 80 is relatively low, and several reasons have been suggested to account for this. A healthy agrarian lifestyle with low stress levels has been claimed, but some of the aged men, despite otherwise low-stress outdoor habits, have at some time been heavy smokers and have participated in warfare.
In some individuals the immune system may play a major role in determining longevity. The immune response centred on T- and B-lymphocytes tends to deteriorate with age, although general immunity dependent on macrophages may improve. These changes occur between 60 and 70 years. Critics suggest that local red wine, artichoke, Italian everlasting as well as other plants are a life preserver.
Secrets of longevity from the island of 100-year-old men
Everything here lasts." Dr. Luca Deiana and I are sitting in his office in Cágliari, the capital of the Italian island of Sardinia, where everything is old. The island is old, a craggy hunk of geologically ancient granite and basalt carpeted with sheep pastures dating back to before the birth of Christ. "There is a wild olive grove that is 3,000 years old. And we know from our grandfathers that there have always been old people here. In the 1800s some lived to be over 100. There is this way that we greet each other: Akentannos. 'To 100 years.'" As in, may you live so long. And in Sardinia, it would seem, you very well may.
Dr. Deiana and his team of researchers from the University of Sássari have been studying Sardinia's centenarians, particularly those from the remote mountains in the interior of Núoro province. In 1999 his Akea project (from akentannos) found 66 people in Núoro who were 100 years old or more. In a regional population of 276,800, that's three times the average in the rest of the Western world. But even that wasn't the most astonishing fact. In most places, as men know only too well, women outlive us by a wide margin. "Everywhere else you have four woman centenarians to every man," Deiana says. In Sardinia, though, "you have two to one. And in central Sardinia the ratio is one to one."
The statistic is so extraordinary that at first the scientific community refused to believe it, dismissing it as just another of the apocryphal reports of clusters of very old men that periodically pop up. (Remember those 100-year-old guys in the Caucasus eating Dannon yogurt in those TV ads? A big hoax.) But in Sardinia the myth has stood up to the scrutiny of demographers, and when I went there myself it was easy to see why. The place is overrun with extremely old men. Everyone I speak to, even casually, seems to have a 90- or 100-year-old in the family. And they are more than just old: They are the youngest old people you've ever met. They live alone, cook for themselves, run shops, recite Dante from memory, go hunting, walk up and down hills after their sheep for miles every day, and are exceedingly slim. And that's not all. Deiana chuckles now over the case of a 102-year-old man he met who, after fondling a social worker, was sued for sexual harassment.
More important for us aspiring centenarians, they are starting to share their secrets with the scientists who have arrived from around the globe to poke and prod these ageless wonders. The researchers have discovered a nexus of surprising and surprisingly applicable factors at play: a vigorous work ethic, a certain dark pragmatism, a thirst for wine loaded with potent heart-protective polyphenols, a diet rich in some herbs and plants and an unexpected twist on an important recent discovery regarding the size of one's diet that suddenly makes it applicable to millions more men.
An acquaintance of mine in Rome had described Sardinia as a kind of magical island of "strange little brown people with mustaches and hats who live with sheep and drink wine and never die." What he failed to add was that we can all live like Sardinians if we want to.
THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
Quirino Demurtas is 96, elfin, clear- eyed, with a full head of suavely combed white hair, and he is happy to explain the reason for his long and healthy life: "I don't really believe in medicine." I am sitting with him in a particularly centenarian-rich part of Núoro called Ogliastra. Bounded by mountains on three sides and the sea on the fourth, some call the region an island within an island. It once took 12 hours to get here from Cágliari by train, but I drove up in two, along a perilous Roman road twisting through spirelike balding mountains of rosy granite, often with nothing but a wire or a hedge separating my Fiat from a deep ravine. I am still dizzy.
"For years I would not take any medicines at all," Demurtas tells me. "I don't think they do much, and lots of times the doctor is using you as a guinea pig." Like me Demurtas has asthma. He has been known to smoke and still does. "But I never inhaled," he points out, with Clintonian pride. Given all this I am frankly amazed by his good health and confused about why he is here, in his town's bright new clinic, allowing himself to be treated like a guinea pig. He enjoys it here, Demurtas explains. Besides, he says, "I am friends with Dr. Pilia's mother."
Dr. Pilia is Giuseppe Pilia, a dashing young geneticist who, after several years at Washington University in St. Louis, returned to his native village with funds from the U.S. National Institute of Aging to tease out some of the factors contributing to his neighbors' extraordinary health. This clinic now occupies what was once Pilia's old elementary school, and with help from his mother ("She knows everyone!" he explains, with a quick roll of the eyes) he has already lined up 6,000 of the region's 10,000 residents as subjects.
Pilia takes me upstairs to show me the two new sonogram machines his staff is using to measure the thickness of the citizenry's artery walls. Typically, the older the person, the thicker and stiffer his arteries, and the more likely he is to suffer a heart attack. Some people, though, maintain svelte arteries well into their middle years, making arterial thickness a good indicator of a person's "real," or biological, age, as opposed to the one on his birth certificate. I ask Pilia if he can show me Demurtas's arteries, and he has an assistant pull the sonogram results. The thickness of a healthy artery falls within a range of .3Ð.8 mm; thicker than .8, you have trouble. Pilia and I see that Demurtas comes in at .62 mm.
"You mean he has the arteries of a 50-year-old?"
"Right," says Pilia, considering Demurtas's ranking for the first time himself. "Wow."
So then the question becomes, how is it that Demurtas's arteries (if not Demurtas himself) are aging at half the rate of those of a normal man? Pilia says that genetics undoubtedly plays a part, but if previous longevity studies are an indication it won't be a huge part. For example, in a 1997 study on the island of Okinawa (the site of another famous centenarian cluster), 94 percent of the centenarians had the same average-to-poor genetic profile as the rest of the population. That leaves plenty of room for environmental factors. Factors, for instance, like Demurtas's less than buoyant outlook on life. "If you ask around they will say people in Ogliastra are, well, depressed," says Pilia with a dry laugh. But, he points out, it's a depression without anxiety or much artery-constricting stress.
Sardinia has seen a great deal of hardship over the centuries. There have been earthquakes, famines, and a near-endless string of invaders, starting with the Phoenicians and the Romans and continuing through the Spanish, the House of Savoy, and today's tourists, scientists, and journalists. Along the way the people of the interior seem to have adopted the attitude that whatever the foreigners can screw up they usually will, so you might as well focus on the few acres of rock and lichen you can control. It's similar to the conclusion that came out of a big U.S. study earlier this year discounting the role of positive emotions on cancer survival. A relentlessly upbeat attitude has probably been overrated in our society. If you really want arteries that will let you live to 100, you'd do better to follow the example of a Sardinian peasant and respond to everything, good and bad, with the same sort of droll fatalism. As Demurtas put it to me, "A girl once asked me, 'How can I live to be your age?' I told her, 'Don't die too early.'"
PASS THE CHEESE
After we visit the clinic, pilia takes me up the hill to sample another mystifying factor presumably contributing to the Sardinians' longevity: traditional central Sardinian cuisine.
Many people would assume that because Sardinia is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea the centenarians have benefited from a lifetime's immersion in the Mediterranean diet, recently lauded for its emphasis on fish, vegetables, and artery-scrubbing olive oil. But those people would be wrong. "You have to remember, a lot of these centenarians are shepherds," Pilia explains as we take our seats at a little restaurant called La Pineta. "If you talk to people 80 years old in the mountains, they don't know how to swim, even though the sea is at most 20 minutes from their home."
We start with young white blocks of sour cream cheese, which, Pilia explains, is cultured from fresh sheep's milk, right in the field. The bread, pistoccu, is flat and hard, designed for travel and meant to be moistened with water. This is followed by a chunky porcini soup, made from mushrooms that grow like kudzu in these hills. Then a main course of roast suckling pig and a stew of lamb meat, hearts, liver, and intestines. And then more cheese.
Although the average centenarian would probably enjoy a feast like this only once a week or so, some of these dishes, like the cheeses and pistoccu, can make an appearance at almost every meal. The reason this works for the Sardinian centenarians has to do with what else they're eating on their nonfeast days, namely, loads of fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, fava beans, vegetables (artichokes , wheat germ) and herbal tea (Immortelle) all of which serve to flush their systems with a purgative of fiber, phytoactive vitamins, and minerals.
Much of their food is also locally grown and milled (if not plucked right from their own gardens or herds), further upping its nutrients. For those of you following at home, it's a good argument for buying organic, and, indeed, to this day Sardinia supplies Italy with two-thirds of its organic food. Even their cheese and meat are healthier than the standard non-grass-fed American Saran-wrapped varieties, because the emphasis on natural grazing methods heightens the concentration of heart-healthy omega 3 and conjugated linoleic acids.
The Secrets to Living Longer
When Schwartz read studies about the small Italian island of Sardinia, he knew he was on to something. Genetically isolated, Sardinia is known for having a disproportionate number of male centenarians. Many of the men there share a common genetic trait: a deficiency of the G6PDH enzyme.
Aging researchers have clamored for data on the Sardinian population to find out what secrets these men hold in their genes. Studies have confirmed that the G6PDH-deficient men are far less likely than the general population to die from heart disease or stroke and are far more likely to live to 100. This provides strong human support for the opinions held by Dr. Schwartz and others that a drug that inhibited the production of G6PDH, and all the processes that come with it, would be a step in the right direction for treating many age-related diseases.
"It's very suggestive," Schwartz said. "And from what we know about inhibiting G6PDH in animals, it's more than suggestive. It suggests that it's probably real."Helichrysum Italicum
Helichrysum as a herb has been revered since the time of Homer and the ancient Greeks for its great wound healing ability. Also called "everlasting" and "immortelle," this plant is native to the Mediterranean region, and has long been used for medicinal purposes and for its anti-aging properties. An oil that should be in every medicine cabinet. They are plants characterized by papery or chaffy flowers that retain their form and their color when dried
Helichrysum Supports the musculoskeletal, respiratory, glandular, and immune systems. It is an excellent detoxifer, and support for a health epidermis.
Everlasting is one of the strongest anti-inflammatory. Helichrysum is antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal .
The literature and the aromatherapy lists are full of anecdotal evidence of Helichrysum Italicum's amazing power when used on broken bones , stories of doctors being amazed that the break healed in half the estimated time, etc.
My personal experience is that it can fade bruises almost overnight, turning an angry new bruise to one that looks like a week old almost healed bruise while I slept. It acts by having the blood reabsorbed into the tissue, thus removing the discoloration and the pain caused by pressure on the nerves. It is the best anti bruise known.
Helichrysum has been found by European researchers to protect the skin against free radicals, activate microcirculation and regenerate tissue (has a reputation as an amazing cell regenerator and cell activity enhancer ) It is often used in regenerative skin care products because of its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, astringent, and anti-allergenic properties. Helichrysum reduces tissue pain and help to improve skin conditions ( It is a component of anti-acne blends, as well as useful in any rash or skin irritation ) and circulatory function.
It is anticoagulant, prevents phlebitis, helps regulate cholesterol ( According to Dr. Christoph Streicher, Helichrysum is useful in treating heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat and risk of stroke) Also said to regulate blood pressure. stimulates liver cell function, is anticatarrhal, mucolytic, expectorant, antispasmodic, and reduces scarring and discoloration.
Folk medicine also presents it as a great help for fighting the ravages of aging and the therapeutic property of stimulating new cell growth would underscore this, since it encourages the growth and regeneration of new skin cells.
In Europe Helichrysum is also used for respiratory complaints such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and whooping cough; also for headaches, migraine, liver ailments and skin conditions including burns, allergies and psoriasis.
Helichrysum stimulates production of new cells, so it's used in skin products to treat acne, scar tissue, bruising, mature skin, and burns. It also helps to prevent sunburn. It treats bacterial infection and inflammation and helps to boost the body's immune system. it can alleviate pain by numbing nerve endings. It also lessens muscle pain, arthritis, enlarged veins, liver problems and counters allergic reactions like asthma. MEDICINAL PROPERTIES:
Anti-allergenic, anti-spasmodic anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antitussive, antiseptics, astringent, anti-bruising, diuretic, expectorant, fungicidal, and healing DIGESTIVE:
Liver congestion, spleen congestionMUSCULAR:
Muscular aches & pains, rheumatism, sprains, strained musclesNERVOUS:
Depression, debility, lethargy, nervous exhaustion, neuralgia, stress-related conditionsRESPIRATORY & IMMUNE:
Asthma, bronchitis, chronic coughs, whooping cough, bacterial infections, colds, flu, feverSKIN CARE:
Abscess, acne, allergic conditions, boils, burns, cuts, dermatitis, eczema, inflammation, mature skin, spots, woundsPhysical Benefits
- Acne, blemishes
- Arthritis, rheumatism - pain relief
- Bronchial congestion
- Chronic bronchitis
- Digestion- stimulates cell renewal in liver
- Liver ailments
- Muscle aches
- Sprains, strains
- Increase mental clarity
- Lessen stress, Lower anxiety
- Dispel exhaustion and nervous tension
- Said to clear the body of Candida apparently, which often thrives when vitality is low. Since it gives such a boost to the immune system, will therefore help to keep such allergies and infections at bay.
The artichoke is one of the world’s oldest medicinal plants. The ancient Egyptians placed great value on the plant—it is clearly seen in drawings involving fertility and sacrifice. Moreover, this plant was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a digestive aid. In 16th century Europe, the artichoke was favored as a food by royalty.
In ancient times, this delicacy grew only in western Mediterranean countries, and people ate only the leaves. The flower form was cultivated in Italy about 1400.
They contain a compound that can prevent certain cancers and even heal a damaged liver.
Doctors at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine say they contain a very powerful antioxidant called silymarin. It is so effective that silymarin extract is used medicinally against liver disease in Europe
Artichokes are an excellent source of fiber. They contain a big 72 milligrams of magnesium which keeps muscles running smoothly and lessens the risk of heart arrhythmia. And they're loaded with folate and vitamin C.
Artichoke have historical uses in the treatments of: sluggish liver (where it aids in increasing bile secretion); poor digestion; atherosclerosis; elevated triglycerides and elevated cholesterol; and as a diuretic, for kidney diseases, and proteinuria.
Internal cleansing and detoxifying with artichoke promotes proper liver function and radiant skin. This artichoke extract contains powerful bioflavonoids known for their detoxifying properties.
Wheat Germ Oil is an energy-rich, unrefined vegetable oil that extracts and preserves more of the natural nutrients, flavor and aroma, provides vitamin E, linoleic and linolenic essential fatty acids which may be beneficial by increasing endurance, lowering cholesterol levels, oxygenating tissues, reducing high altitude stress and assisting with muscular dystrophies and other neuromuscular disorders.
If you look inside a grain refiner's rubbish bin, you'll find one of complementary medicine's greatest unacknowledged supplements. Tossed out with the bathwater during the creation of white flour is wheat germ, the source from which we derive octacosanol. Early nutrition scientists considered wheat germ valuable only for its vitamin E. Not until the late Charlton Fredericks used it to awaken people from comas did we learn of the nutrient's higher potential in treating neural and neurological disturbances, and, as was soon found, it's also a great stamina strengthener.
The debate over nerve regeneration, though, is almost irrelevant. The point is that taking octacosanol supplements allows most people with MS to feel better and do more that they could have otherwise. It's also a reliable brain fuel in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. People with hypoglycemia also respond to it. Extra mental energy translates into increased physical stamina. As a variety of studies confirm, octacosanol can boost muscular strength ( including that of the heart), quicken reaction time, and increase muscular endurance. It also lowers systolic blood pressure (the top number), shores up the body's resistance to stress, and speeds up an athlete's running time.
The vita-nutrient works because it improves muscle-glycogen storage and delivers more oxygen to body tissues. Anyone who feels muscle pain after exercising probably can derive some benefit, as should anyone with a low endurance level. That sounds like the vast majority of us. If a nutrient can help stir a coma patient, it might rouse the sleeping stamina in you too.
Helichrysum 65 mg
Dried, fermented wheat germ extract 120 mg
Artichoke 150 mg
Baryta Carbonica 12C, Avena Sativa 3X, Carbo Animalis 5C Aurum Metallicum 5C Selenium Metallicum 9C, Agnus Cactus 4C, Fluoricum Acidum 9C