Dr. Aseem Malholtra was amazed by what he saw when he visited the small village of Pioppi in southern Italy. The old folks there were different.
Not only were they extraordinarily old—many were past 100—they were active and healthy.
After doing some research, he discovered that residents there have an average lifespan of 89. That’s 11 years more than Americans.
More importantly, they villagers age well. They typically remain strong and healthy into their late 80s and beyond.
The “diseases of aging” such as Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes are rare in Pioppi.
That’s why Dr. Aseem Malhotra spent seven years trying to unlock the little village’s secret to health and longevity. Dr. Malhotra is with Britain’s National Health Services.
He found that the biggest reason for the village’s wellness and long lifespans comes down to two words: No sugar.
“Consuming less sugar is more powerful than any medication doctors can prescribe,” Dr. Malhotra said.
The residents’ natural diet all but eliminates sugar. It is also low in refined carbohydrates, which the body turns into sugar.
“Yes, the locals eat pasta—but only in small quantities,” said Dr. Malhotra. “And they rarely touch sugar.”
Unlike Americans, Pioppi residents have not developed a taste for sugary soft drinks.
It’s linked to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, depression, and more. Researchers have also found that sugar increases your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
After studying Pioppi, Dr. Malhotra has become of an advocate of Paleo eating. He encourages a diet rich in protein and healthy fats from coconut and olive oils, and fish such as sardines.
When it comes to longevity “diet is the number one issue,” Dr. Malhotra adds. “More than physical inactivity, smoking, and alcohol, it contributes to more disease and deaths. This should be the message from doctors: that food is medicine.”
8 Ways to Live Like a Pioppian
Based on his research in Pioppi, Dr. Malhotra has developed eight simple steps to better overall health and increased longevity.
- Don’t fear fat. Sugar and refined carbs are the real enemy.
- Keep moving. Walk as much as possible.
- Extra virgin olive oil is medicine. Eat some every day. And nuts are important, too. Pioppians eat plenty of hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds.
- Get seven or more hours of sleep a night.
- Stop counting calories. What you eat is more important than how much you eat.
- Eat eggs. Many Pioppians eat 10 a week. They’re satiating and full of protein.
- Pile on the vegetables. Eat fresh, organic vegetables in at least two meals a day.
- Do a mini-fast once a week. Have dinner, then skip breakfast and lunch the next day.
Pioppians also don’t sweat the small stuff. They don’t have much stress in their lives.
Dr. Malhotra said if the rest of the world followed the example of the residents of Pioppi, there would be “a reduction in 20 million deaths (annually) worldwide caused by cardiovascular disease. Plus, obesity would be reversed and type 2 diabetes would decline.”
Dr. Malhotra believes that by making crucial but simple lifestyle changes, you can get the same longevity benefits that people in Pioppi have enjoyed for centuries.
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