Posted on Sep 15, 2016, 6 a.m.
Scientists determine that low levels of a particular hormone explains why a small village in southern Italy has an unusual number of centenarians.
Researchers from Rome's Sapienza University and the San Diego School of Medicine spent six months studying the residents of Acciaroli in order to determine why there is such a large number of residents over the age of 100 years old, living in the small village in Italy. The area, best known for its natural beauty and healthy fruits and vegetables, could be responsible for the unusually high number of centenarians.
The Proof of Longevity Resides on the Coast of Cilento
Every one in 10 people is over 100 years old in Acciaroli, which has a population of 700 people. The small village is part of an area that thrives on taking advantage of Mediterranean foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and olive oil. This is the place where Ancel Keys, a nutritionist from the United States, found convincing proof that the Mediterranean diet provides excellent health benefits. Researchers also found that the people living in these small communities, and in nearby villages appear to be immune to chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and dementia. These illnesses are considered to be common among aging citizens living in the Western World.
The Benefits of Adrenomedullin
Adrenomedullin, a hormone that widens blood vessels, was found to be present in small quantities in the test subjects. The researchers stated that 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. In older people, capillary blood vessels usually degenerate. The researchers found that the Acciaroli residents capillaries resembled those of much younger people - even those in their twenties.
Anoher notable factor that was found in the study, was the presence of metabolites, which may have a positive influence on longevity and the health of Cliento's centenarians. The study has been expanded to perform further research from blood tests, neurological reading and cardiac exams.
Genetics Plus Lifestyle May be the Factors to Longevity
While genetics could be one of the positive factors in the subjects' longevity, others being explored by the researchers include lifestyle influences such as physical activity and diet. The residents regularly eat rosemary, which is known to improve brain activity. Walking, gardening, fishing and other physical activities are other important ingredients for a long, healthy, prosperous life and are practiced by the residents.