Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Shangri-La for Men


Men’s Journal is reporting that the secrets to men's longevity might reside in the remote mountains of the Italian island of Sardinia, where an unusually high concentration of centenarian men have been identified. Everywhere else in the world, you find a ratio of four centenary women for each man. In the province of Nuoro in the interior of Sardinia, that ratio is one-to-one. With a U.S. man's life expectancy of 75 years (women's at 80), that extra quarter century just might come in handy. Get your notepad ready:

The researchers have discovered a nexus of surprisingly applicable factors at play: a vigorous work ethic, a certain dark pragmatism, a thirst for wine loaded with potent heart-protective polyphenols, a richly satisfying diet that has as much in common with Atkins as it does with typical Mediterranean fare, 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.

First, the attitude - apparently perpetual, sunny optimism isn't in vogue in the Sardinian mountainsides. But with a bit of cynical curmudgeonliness you'll fit in just fine:

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. . . it's a depression without anxiety or much artery-constricting stress.

And for diet? Cheese, cheese, and more cheese. And

loads of fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, fava beans, and artichokes and other vegetables, all of which serve to flush their systems with a purgative of fiber, phytoactive vitamins, and minerals.

Finally, the researchers have found that leaving the table a little hungry ain't a bad idea after all. Lower calorie intakes have a direct effect on longevity:

The body, responding to the environmental stress of less energy, activates enzymes called sirtuins that boost the rate of cell repair, thus slowing the natural cellular deterioration at the crux of aging, and giving the undernourished subject some extra time to reproduce.

So, to live a longer life, you need to be constantly hungry, eat cheese at every meal, and walk around depressed. Maybe that extra quarter century ain't so attractive after all.