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.
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.
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.”