Did you know that in the developed world women live an average of 6 to 8 years longer than men do?
That is a huge difference.
In 2015, the Lancet (an esteemed medical journal) published an article showing that men in rich countries are twice as likely to die as women are at any age.
But, there is one place in the world where men live as long as women.
It’s on the Italian island of Sardinia.
Not only do men and women live equally long lives, but there are also six times as many centenarians as on mainland Italy, which is a mere 200 miles away.
To put it in perspective, there are 10 times as many centenarians on the island of Sardinia, as there are in Australia.
Researchers found that genes accounted for just 25% of their longevity.
The other 75% was lifestyle.
What did it take to live to 100 and beyond?
On this remote island, Sardinians lived almost on top of each other, in tightly spaced houses, and everyone knows the comings and goings of everyone else.
Today, social isolation is the number one public health risk.
A third of the population says they have two or fewer people to lean on.
In Sardinia, people are always surrounded by extended family, friends, neighbours, the priest and shopowners.
They are never left to live a solitary life.
Another series of studies were conducted on 1000s of middle-aged people.
Every aspect of lifestyle, diet, exercise, marital status, doctor visits, smoking or drinking habits, were taken under the loop.
Every little detail was recorded.
Then they waited for 7 years.
After 7 years were up, they looked at the people who were still alive and worked out the strong predictors for a long life.
They were NOT clean air, how much you exercise, whether you were lean or obese, or how much sleep you get.
The top predictors of a long life were:
1. Whether you have close relationships or not.
Do you have people in your life that you can call on for a loan, who take care of you when you fall sick, or who lend you an ear when you are going through a crisis?
If you have at least three close relationships, this is a strong predictor you could have a long life.
2. Social Integration.
How many people do you talk to day to day?
And, not just people you are really close to, but also random people in the car park, the postman, the person at the supermarket checkout and so on.
Those interactions are one of the strongest predictors of how long you live.
Interacting on social media doesn’t count.
It’s not the same thing.
Making eye contact with somebody, shaking hands, giving somebody a high five is enough to release oxytocin, which increases your level of trust, and it lowers your cortisol levels, which lowers your stress.
And dopamine is generated which gives us a little high and it kills pain, like a naturally produced morphine.
Why do women live longer than men?
One major reason is that women are more likely to prioritize face-to-face relationships over their lifespans.
Fresh evidence shows that these in-person friendships create a biological force field against disease and decline.
And it’s not just true of humans, but for primate relations as well.
Female baboons who have a corps of female friends show lower levels of stress via their cortisol levels.
They live longer and they have more surviving offspring.
The magic number is to have at least three stable relationships.
The lowest rates of dementia are found among people who are socially engaged.
Men who have had a stroke recover much better when they have friends.
We are biologically wired to know that we belong ‘in a village’.
It bolsters the immune system and helps us live longer.
(This is why men’s sheds are so important, where men can meet regularly and have face-to-face contact, feel supported and enjoy a sense of belonging. Fun fact: Men sheds originated in Australia and are springing up all over the world)
Another completely unrelated strong predictor for a long life is beneficial bacteria!
I came across a study conducted in the last century, by Nobel Prize winner Russian Professor Ilya Metchnikoff.
He realised the Bulgarian mountain peasants often lived to be a hundred years old or more, and they were unusually contented.
The peasants had to walk long distances, and they carried the milk from their cows in leather bags.
Often their milk would turn sour by the time they arrived at their destination.
It had transformed into yoghurt.
The esteemed Russian Professor wrote a book: the Prolongation of life, claiming that good bacteria can help us live longer better happier lives.
Beneficial bacteria are promoters of health.
This shattered the idea in people’s minds that fewer bacteria are better.
The opposite is true: our DNA is made up of 90% bacteria, so we need to make sure that we supplement or eat beneficial bacteria and minimize bad bacteria.
While yoghurt is good for you, homemade yoghurt is far better. (Click here to find the recipe for homemade yoghurt).
Fermented vegetables, like Love your Guts sauerkraut, kimchi and other varieties are even better to heal and seal your gut, soothe your digestion and keep diseases at bay.
Be like the Bulgarian mountain peasant and their Sardinian neighbours.
Visit your friends, spend more quality time with your loved ones, let go of old hurts, and rebuild your internal community of good bacteria with a few mouthfuls of fermented foods each day, as well as supplementing with superior probiotics like Spore Probiotics, Immuno-Symbiotic Restore, Syntol, Vital-all-in-one.
(Click here to shop online, call 03 64283007 or visit us at Purple House to purchase these products)
- Vital All-in-One Greens$35.00 – $80.00
- Spore Probiotic$65.00
- Immuno-Synbiotic -Restore (Replaced by improved version called IMMUNO-SYNBIOTIC))$56.25
- Syntol AMD$60.00 – $105.00
Fun fact: you will find it easier to maintain your friendships when your gut is alive with beneficial bacteria.
These produce happy hormones, which will help you remain chill even under pressure.
We are open for clients Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and you can ring us on 03 64283007 to talk to our friendly team.