Italy’s 100-club vil­lage re­veals its se­cret

The Myanmar Times - - World -

SCI­EN­TISTS have re­vealed part of the se­cret as to why a small vil­lage in south­ern Italy has an unusual num­ber of centenarians – low lev­els of a par­tic­u­lar hor­mone that af­fects cir­cu­la­tion.

Ital­ian and US ex­perts have spent the last six months in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ex­tra­or­di­nary longevity of res­i­dents of Ac­cia­roli, where more than one in 10 – 81 at the mayor’s last count – of the vil­lage’s pop­u­la­tion of 700 is over 100 years old.

Ac­cia­roli is part of the Ci­lento coast, an area of out­stand­ing nat­u­ral beauty where the late US nu­tri­tion­ist An­cel Keys first es­tab­lished con­vinc­ing ev­i­dence of the health ben­e­fits of a Mediter­ranean diet based on olive oil and rich in fresh fruit, veg­eta­bles and fish.

As well as reach­ing ex­tremely old age, peo­ple in Ac­cia­roli and tiny com­mu­ni­ties nearby also seem to be largely im­mune to de­men­tia, heart dis­ease and other chronic con­di­tions as­so­ci­ated with age­ing in most of the Western world.

Re­searchers from Rome’s Sapienza Univer­sity and the San Diego School of Medicine said that the ex­pla­na­tion could lie in low lev­els of adrenomedullin, a hor­mone that acts to widen blood ves­sels.

Adrenomedullin is present “in a much re­duced quan­tity in the sub­jects stud­ied and seems to act as a pow­er­ful pro­tect­ing fac­tor, help­ing the op­ti­mal de­vel­op­ment of mi­cro­cir­cu­la­tion”, or cap­il­lary cir­cu­la­tion, they said in a state­ment.

Cap­il­lary blood ves­sels tend to de­gen­er­ate in older peo­ple, but the se­niors in Ci­lento had cap­il­lar­ies of the sort found in much younger peo­ple, even those in their 20s.

The study also found “me­tab­o­lites present [in the bod­ies of those stud­ied] which may have a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on longevity and the well-be­ing of Cliento’s centenarians”, the state­ment said.

The Ci­lento lo­cals all eat rose­mary – known to im­prove brain func­tion – al­most ev­ery day, and also all prac­tise some phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity daily, such as fish­ing, walk­ing or gar­den­ing, an­other line of en­quiry for the sci­en­tists. –

Photo: AFP

Ste­fano Pisani, mayor of Ac­cia­roli, re­laxes by the har­bour. Si­t­u­ated on the western coast of south­ern Italy, the town of Ac­cia­roli has a dis­pro­por­tion­ately high num­ber of centenarians in its pop­u­la­tion of about 2000. Ac­cia­roli is renowned for its low rates of heart dis­ease and Alzheimer’s, but it is the first time re­searchers have stud­ied the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion.

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