The regions of the world that concentrate more centenarians than elsewhere are often referred to as “Blue Zones”. This is the case of the island of Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy or Icaria in Greece. For these last two regions, the Mediterranean diet could play a role because many studies have highlighted its benefits for cardiovascular or mental health, and even in longevity. Thus, a 2014 study of more than 120,000 women showed that the Mediterranean diet was associated with longer telomeres. Or the telomeres, located at the ends of the chromosomes, are cellular markers of aging. In Okinawa, the diet is rather low in calories and rich in plants (fruits, vegetables, cereals, pulses, soy …).
But food is not the only factor, genetics also intervenes.
Sport, good humor and social ties: the secrets of longevity?
In addition to diet, other lifestyle parameters influence longevity. A 2016 study on the marital status of 3,000 Belgian centenarians showed that, among men, living together is rather beneficial; on the other hand, among women, it was better to live alone! According to the BlueZone website, certain personality traits and behaviors are found in many centenarians: having a purpose in life, good stress management (for example through meditation ), belonging to a community and giving importance to family ties. In general, the centenarians of the Blue Zones are not necessarily followers of the marathon or the gyms but have an activity regular physical activity related to their way of life (gardening…).
Finally, there is not necessarily a rule that applies to everyone: Jeanne Calment drank a glass of Port a day and smoked cigarillos until the age of 117.