BLUE ZONE is one of the newest phrases I got acquainted with, when I arrived in Ogliastra, Sardinia, Italy. Blue zone refers to geographic regions where people exceptionally lived longer.
Ogliastra is one of the five blue zones in the world. The other four are: Icaria (Greece), Okinawa (Japan), Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica) and Loma Linda, California (USA).
Since the beginning of 1900, there have been some 4,000 centenarians recorded in Sardinia, according to the publication Tottus In Pari.
Sardinia (also called Sardegna) is located on the west side of the Italian peninsula. It is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily. Sardinia is one of Europe’s best and most-loved island holiday destinations, with its pristine golden beaches, dramatic vegetation, exquisite food, and relaxed pace of life.
The soil, sun and sports are the three fundamental elements, centenarians observe to live longer than the rest of those in the continent, says Patrizia Usala, a friend who hails from Ogliastra.
She explained that Sardinian centenarians live in villages and spend a lot of time outdoors. They have deep connection with nature, each day going go out before the sun to till their land.
“I remember my mother’s friend who is 95 years old used to say ‘I am going to the gym.’ The gym she refers to is her farm,” Patrizia chuckled.
More things I learned from my friend:
Farming and tending to animals are the centenarian way of life. In their spare time, they walk in the woods, make some cheeses or anything to keep them busy. For them, their environment is a sacred place, a holy space. These amazing people sleep approximately six hours a day. They follow their animals’ rest and sleep patterns.
Foods bred in Sardinia are genuine and healthy because of the rich unblemished soil, sprightly water from the mountain, the clean crisp air, and peaceful atmosphere. The pecorino cheese (made from sheep and goat milk) is the typical cheese regularly consumed in the region.
These cheeses are usually homemade, though can also be purchased in particular food shops.
“We eat what we produce and we do not allow chemicals touch our land. Rich, in those days, means you have vast tracts of land that produce abundant food. Our diet comprises plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Patrizia shares.
“Sardinians are natural-born food experts. We know the look, touch and smell of healthy produce. We can tell which ones are not organic, fresh and grown according to our standard. Even the olive oil, we only buy it if its homemade or from our local producers. If ever we buy one in the supermarket, we only buy the ones from a manufacturer that we know. We are notable for being selective and distinct, for we are accustomed to fine foods,” she added.
Another factor that contributes to Sardinians’ longevity, noted Patrizia, is their unique Cannonau wine (red wine) from Ogliastra. Cannonau is a special type of succulent grape. It is the typical everyday wine of the Sards.
“Lunch is the most important meal for us. For breakfast, we generally eat biscuits, cookies accompanied by milk or coffee. One of our famous desserts is “sebada,” made of homemade fried pasta in round shape, with cheese filling and pure honey toppings. Majority of our dishes contain cheese and we only eat freshly baked breads.” Buon appetito, I almost cried out at the account of my friend.
And wow: “My grandfather who passed at the age of 90, never visited a doctor or dentist in his life. Our elderlies live without man–made synthetic medicinesand hospitals. They know how to heal themselves with the guidance of their natural instinct. The doctors in their time, used substantial natural healing methods and ingredients.”
She said medicine women were the most sought for healers in that generation. These mystical women used powerful natural secret concoctions and special prayers to end the sufferings of their patients. Women power!
And really close to my heart, “At the present, we have holistic healers, which we call “janas” or fairy.”
Genetics is also one of the main factors why the people in Sardinia live longer than the rest of the population in the sphere. The individuals living to advanced age are almost always related, in some kinship of strong physique.
Check one for marriage: “The centenarians are mostly married. It is common in our town when a couple celebrates 75 years of marriage. Our family relation is a priority, as well as the tradition of sharing, be it our harvests, products, even our problems. Our community culture is incredible. It makes you feel secure, confident and important.”
Being in a paradise like Sardinia gives you a reason to live longer. A place where your mind and body can be in a perfect still embrace.