We’ve all gotten tons of advice when it comes to how to live longer. Experts have touted everything from exercising to eating more fruits and veggies as the secret ingredient to living a long, happy life. But in the end, getting too much advice is almost as frustrating as getting too little. How do we know what really works?
Thankfully, one small town already does. The residents of Pioppi, a village in southern Italy, often live to the age of 100. And get this: Not only has UNESCO recognized Pioppi as the home of the Mediterranean diet, but it’s also been dubbed the “world’s healthiest village.” How? It’s simple, they say: Just eat sugar once a week.
That’s it! According to Dr. Aseem Malhotra, who studied the Pioppian lifestyle, diet is a key reason behind the villagers' long average lifespans and low rates of diabetes.
“Diet is the number one issue,” he said. “More than physical inactivity, smoking, and alcohol, it contributes to more disease and deaths. This should be the message from doctors—food is medicine.”
Pioppians only eat desserts on Sundays, and they limit their pizza consumption to once or twice per month. And although they don’t regularly sweat it out in the gym, they’re constantly on the move.
Other important factors to extending your life: low levels of stress and sleeping seven hours per night. These “simple lifestyle changes” are “more powerful than any medication that doctors could prescribe,” Malhotra said.
While many dieters count calories or the number on the scale, Malhotra recommends focusing on what you eat, instead. Putting more greens and good fats like olive oil on your plate and avoiding refined carbs like white bread are great ways to start. According to Malhotra, eating like a Pioppian would prevent nearly 20 million deaths annual deaths worldwide caused by cardiovascular disease.
“There is no such thing as a healthy weight, but a healthy person,” Malhotra said. “That is what we should all be aiming for.”
Couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Ready to get started? Try these 18 simple rules to follow if you want to live to 100.