Health

Secrets of One of the World's Healthiest Villages

After studying a village where the chronic diseases that plague most of the world are seldom seen, a British cardiologist devises a formula based on the residents' lifestyle.

Jul. 5, 2017
By Mary West

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Pioppi, Italy is known as the world’s health­i­est vil­lage because many of its res­i­dents live past the age of 100. What are the fac­tors respon­si­ble for their remark­able longevity? A lead­ing doc­tor in Britain revealed their secrets.

The vil­lagers have a diet of whole nat­ural foods com­prised of things that are in sea­son and avail­able accord­ing to the local cli­mate.- Kathy Gru­ver

Imag­ine liv­ing in a com­mu­nity where the aver­age man lives to be 89 and many reach the 100-year mark. Pic­ture what it would be like to enjoy one’s golden years with­out demen­tia or type 2 dia­betes, mal­adies that are an inte­gral part of aging in the rest of the world. After hear­ing about Pioppi, car­di­ol­o­gist Aseem Mal­ho­tra became fas­ci­nated with dis­cov­er­ing what diet kept the res­i­dents so healthy and what lessons could be learned from them.

After study­ing the vil­lage, Mal­ho­tra devel­oped a for­mula for opti­mal health. For starters, the Piop­pi­ans have a very low sugar intake, eat­ing it only once per week. It is this dietary prac­tice that the doc­tor con­sid­ers essen­tial for their good health. He con­tends that west­ern society’s fear of fat is to blame for the high con­sump­tion of sugar and refined car­bo­hy­drates. Mal­ho­tra attrib­utes these foods as the cause of the wide­spread inci­dence of heart dis­ease, type 2 dia­betes and obe­sity.

Pioppi has received noto­ri­ety because it’s known as the home of the Mediter­ranean diet. As the vil­lagers have no super­mar­ket, their diet con­sists largely of veg­eta­bles, olive oil and fish. They also eat cheese, but other dairy prod­ucts aren’t avail­able. Pasta and bread are con­sumed in small quan­ti­ties. In addi­tion to sugar, their diet is low in meat and refined car­bo­hy­drates.

Other lifestyle prac­tices aside from a health­ful diet play a role. The vil­lagers get seven hours of sleep per night and expe­ri­ence free­dom from much stress. Although it isn’t inten­tional, inter­mit­tent fast­ing is a nat­ural part of their lives. They don’t engage in exer­cise per se, but they’re very active.

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Mal­ho­tra is the coau­thor of a new book, The Pioppi Diet: A 21-Day Lifestyle Plan. Below are his top rec­om­men­da­tions for vibrant health and longevity based on the Piop­pi­ans:

• Don’t fear fat; sugar and refined carbs are the ene­mies.
• Keep mov­ing. Exer­cise for health, not weight loss (and walk­ing is best).
• Extra vir­gin olive oil is med­i­cine, as is a small hand­ful of nuts – eat both, every day.
• Get seven hours of sleep a night.
• Stop count­ing calo­ries because not all are cre­ated equal.
• Eat 10 eggs a week. They’re sati­at­ing and full of pro­tein.
• Have two por­tions of veg­eta­bles in at least two meals a day.
• Fast once a week for 24 hours. Have din­ner, then don’t have break­fast or lunch the next day.

While Mal­ho­tra is an allo­pathic doc­tor, his advi­sories are in line with tenets of natur­o­pathic med­i­cine. Olive Oil Times sought out the per­spec­tive of Kathy Gru­ver, nat­ural health author, speaker and prac­ti­tioner. I think there are sev­eral points to this that we can all adopt. The vil­lagers have a diet of whole nat­ural foods com­prised of things that are in sea­son and avail­able accord­ing to the local cli­mate,” she said.

This is unlike the west­ern diet that involves a huge amount of processed and pack­aged foods. It’s not only laden with sugar but also con­tains fake and unhealth­ful com­po­nents such as high fruc­tose corn syrup, MSG, arti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers, addi­tives, preser­v­a­tives and fast food. Our bod­ies weren’t made to process all this fake stuff. It does­n’t know what to do with it,” Gru­ver added.

Fur­ther­more, he men­tions though they don’t exer­cise,’ they are very active. We put so much empha­sis on work­outs, which can be a big turn-off to peo­ple. They think it means that they have to go to the gym or run on a tread­mill. But it’s about mov­ing your body in a way that works for you.”

I laud the doctor’s sug­ges­tions on sleep, stress and inter­mit­tent fast­ing as well. All of these things, clearly, are com­bin­ing to pro­mote opti­mal health and a longer life.”



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