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Taking a Leaf from The Sardinians to Increase Longevity

by vybey |

Have you ever heard of the small cluster of villages in Sardinia, sometimes referred to as The Blue Zone, whose population commonly live to see 100? A genetic marker and an isolated culture have shown to increase the average life expectancy for this unique island. We might not be able to change our genetics but we can take a leaf out of the Sardinian’s book to a healthy lifestyle1. In this vybey article we’ll deep dive into how to increase your longevity and also understand the Sardinian’s secrets to living to see 100.  

Eat a Range of Plant-Based Foods 

Consuming a wide range of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains have been shown to decrease the risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, metabolic disease and depression; and can even improve overall life expectancy2 with some studies have even linked an increased risk of premature death with a high level of meat consumption3.The Sardinians eat a diet consisting mostly of plant-based food with meat largely consumed on Sundays and special occasions1. Plant-based foods are high in nutrients, antioxidants such as polyphenols4 and vitamins such as vitamin C5.vybey’s nutritional meal replacement shake is packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, ensuring you have everything you need for a nutritious meal; and given that vybey is suitable for vegetarians, we don’t need to worry about meat consumption. 

Increase Your Nut Intake 

Nuts are rich in protein, fibre and antioxidants and are also high in several vitamins and minerals such as copper, magnesium, potassium and vitamins B6 and vitamin E. Studies have shown that regular nut intake can reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer. Despite nuts being high in fats, studies have not been able to link an increase in nut intake to an increase in BMI6. Simply consuming at least three servings of nuts a week can significantly reduce your risk of premature death7 8.

Regulate Your Calorie Intake and Avoid Overeating 

Calorie control and regulation has long been linked with longevity and a lower likelihood of disease9. Human populations known for their long life expectancy often enjoy fresh produce in moderation without overeating10. Despite research showing that calorie regulation has significant benefits to human health, it is important to note that calorie regulation and calorie restriction are two different things. Excessive calorie restriction will have a detrimental impact on our ability to regulate our metabolism and can cause fatigue or nutrient deficiencies however, more research is needed to fully understand the impact of calorie restriction11. vybey’s meal replacement can support provides all the necessary nutrients in one drink helping you feel fuller for longer and reducing your risk of overeating. 

Drink Tea or Coffee (In Moderation) 

Believe it or not, coffee has been linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease and even some cancers12. Furthermore, studies have shown that tea and coffee drinkers often benefit from up to a 30% decreased risk of early death compared to those who don’t13. However, it’s important to strike the right balance in order to prevent caffeine induced anxiety and insomnia, which will obviously have a significant impact on your mental and physical health14

Moderate Alcohol Intake 

We’ve known for a long time that consuming large amounts of alcohol has been linked with heart, liver, pancreatic disease and an increased risk of early death15. However, moderate intake of wine is associated with a reduction in a number of diseases16 such as heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and neurological disorders17. This is a fact not lost on the Sardinians who strike the right balance of drinking Cannonau wine in moderation1. However, don’t get too carried away as there is no strong research proving the benefits of drinking moderately are greater than those of not drinking any alcohol18

Exercise, Even Just a Little Bit 

Studies have shown that as little as fifteen minutes of exercise a day can have significant health benefits and even those exercising less than the recommended two and a half hours a week still experience a 22% reduced risk of early mortality19. Sardinian shepherds often walk over five miles a day which greatly benefits the cardiovascular system and metabolism1. Walking provides physical benefits without the joint damage that comes with running and other forms of exercise1 and is therefore more accessible for those who struggle to exercise. 

Don’t Smoke 

Let’s be honest, this is an obvious one. Smoking can reduce as much as ten years off your life expectancy and can cause an endless list of complications such as bronchitis and persistent coughing, heart disease, high cholesterol, a poor immune system, infertility, constricted blood vessels, COPD, diabetes complications, and even cancer20.However, it’s well documented that those who quit smoking can significantly increase your life expectancy; and even better, it’s never too late to quit. Click here for NHS resources to help you quit smoking. 

Develop a Consistent Sleeping Pattern 

Sleep plays a vital role in human health by regulating our cell function allowing our bodies to heal21. Research has found that those with regular sleep patterns are more likely to live longer than those with a chaotic sleep pattern22. On the flip side, excessive sleep can be linked to poor physical activity or an undiagnosed health condition23. We are very passionate about sleep at vybey and have even written a blog post about the importance of sleep and how to step up your sleep game. You can read the full blog post here

Spend Some Time in Nature 

A little as twenty minutes in nature a day has been shown to efficiently lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and could even be prescribed by doctors as a way of combating stress. Here are some simple tips to help you get the most from your stress busting twenty minutes in nature. Unplug: try to absorb as much as possible, this means no cheating, try to unplug from devices, books and work. This is a great excuse to turn your phone off and enjoy everything our beautiful environment has to offer. Be one with the trees and find somewhere as calm and settled as possible, take some time to relax and just be; remember, no cheating, focus on your breath. 

Nurture Your Social Circle 

Ever heard the phrase laughter is the best medicine? Well men living in Sardinia are known for their sense of humour. They often meet to laugh both with and at each other1. Laughter has been shown to reduce stress hormones and increase the number of cells that fight infection and can even decrease your risk of heart disease24. Now more than ever, we understand the importance of social interaction with others and how it can benefit our mental health; but research has shown that having just three social ties can increase your chances of living longer25. Social interactions can help to improve our heart, brain, hormonal and immune health26 and have been proven to help regulate our reaction to stressful situations, in turn improving our mental and physical health27.Additionally, caring for someone, and having someone care for us, has also been shown to improve our health28

Prioritize Your Happiness 

An eighty-year-old study from Harvard University has proven that being happy can actually increase your life expectancy. The study followed a large number of Harvard students, including former President John F. Kennedy, throughout their lives to see if factors such as happiness, fitness and career success had a significant impact on their life span. I should point out that this study only followed male students as Harvard was exclusively all male in 1938, thereby limiting the effectiveness of the study but the results still clearly show that alumni who were happy often lived longer29

Strong emotions such as chronic stress and anxiety can have a significant impact on our physical health and studies have shown women who suffer from stress and anxiety are at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and even lung cancer30 26.However, there are many simple ways to increase your happiness, starting with daily gratitude and positive thinking. Replacing negative self-talk with positive thinking can help you to remain calm and handle situations more effectively. The next time you find yourself thinking “I’ve never done this before” try switching your thought process to “this is an opportunity to learn something new”. 

Final Thoughts 

Longevity can seem beyond our control and there is still so much we don’t know about human life expectancy, but if the Sardinians have taught us anything, it’s that healthy habits can help you live to a ripe old age. Habits as simple as exercising, getting enough sleep, limiting your alcohol intake and drinking tea or coffee can help boost your physical and mental health and put you on the path to a long and fulfilled retirement. 





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9 Wilcox, B., Wilcox, D., Todoriki, H., Fujiyoshi, A., Yano, K., He, Q., Curb, D., Suzuki, M., (2007). Caloric Restriction, The Traditional Okinawan Diet and Healthy Aging: The Diet of The World’s Longest-Lived People and Its Potential Impact on Morbidity and Life Span. National Center for Biotechnology Information. [online]. 1114(1), pp. 434-455. Available from

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