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Sardinian centenaries and the Akea study

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I'm going to check the official data on centenarians, but it appears that in the subgroup with individuals with age >= 105 Sardinia is not among the first 5 Italian regions.

Sardinia and Ogliastra, the isolated area in Sardinia, are different issues evidently. I don't know yet the ratio of >= 105 in Ogliastra. The ratio of >= 100 is definitely high about ten times the ratio of the regions with the highest number of centenaries (source: the Italian actuarial agency, ISTAT).

As per topic title, I'm going to start with some published scientific material on Sardinians elders and centenaries. In 2022 there were 468 centenaries in Sardinia, with a total of 1577377 people.

This makes almost a 0.03% ratio, whereas in the whole Europe the ratio is about 0.008% (but in my region, Abruzzo, the ratio is about the same).

Much has been written on the exceptional longevity of  the people of Barbagia/Ogliastra, with some villages holding the world record for concentration of centenaries (something like 0.4% in the village of Perdasdefogu: 'Stones of fire').

The reasons: presently unknown I would say, much has been written, the blue zones, the diet, the lifestyle, the social structure and so on.

To me, the above reasons are not perfectly correct. In this topic I'm going to dig up all the scientific material I can and post here.



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First article of my search


Plasma Clusterin and Lipid Profile: A Link with Aging and Cardiovascular Diseases in a Population with a Consistent Number of Centenarians

First thing I noticed: cholesterol parameters are not low, with median values of 185 mg/dL TC and 108 mg/dL LDL-C in the 100-106 years range. In a few words, cholesterol is not high nor very low. They sure do not eat a low-fat, vegan diet. Also, there is conspicuous variability, LDL ranging from about 80 to 200 mg/dL, barring the outliers.

This may also be meant to construe that the zero-cardiovascular risk theory may not be perfectly correct.


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The posted study is specific on clusterin, a molecule which seems to be associated with oxidative stress and other aging mechanisms.


In the discussion, the results of the data on clusterin concentration are discussed, related specifically to the atherogenic risk. I did not find it very univocal. Clusterin in the (ultra) centenarians subgroup appears to decrease a little with respect to younger subgroups (but not the youngest).





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After consulting the current database of the Italian government agency ISTAT, Present-day data on Perdasdefogu municipality, is 3 males and 3 females of 100 or more years of age, on a total of 1726 citizens.

6/2029= 0.0035 = 0.35% centenarians ratio, which constitutes about 8 times the ratio in the whole Sardinian region = 0.043%

Natio-wide (Italy), the ratio of centenarians is presently 0.037%

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a book not about food in the context of these forums but contains some info on Bosa and it places bread to the central role


also spaghetty as a better version in e.g. ritualized areas of life in 20th century https://books.google.com/books?id=Nnp0DwAAQBAJ&pg=PA1920&lpg=PA1920&dq="Two+examples+of+sa+mesa,+the+meal+set+out+for+the+dead"&source=bl&ots=U89cpFKciU&sig=ACfU3U3mOPyHDMTfebCXfUI7u8HTUpKD_A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjBi9KrkKOBAxXGFBAIHYATDuUQ6AF6BAgKEAM#v=onepage&q="Two examples of sa mesa%2C the meal set out for the dead"&f=false


A quote on bread

https://books.google.com/books?id=2wPFDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA29&lpg=PA29&dq="Le+Lannou+estimates the+daily+diet+of+the+Sardinian+peasant+in+the+1930s"&source=bl&ots=i2xtLj3fUq&sig=ACfU3U1h6HHCv5mJithnn7T0jHXNFKPHEQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjfzbOBk6OBAxW8iP0HHWPvCy8Q6AF6BAgQEAM#v=onepage&q="Le Lannou estimates the daily diet of the Sardinian peasant in the 1930s"&f=false


This chapter treats bread as a “total social fact” (Mauss 1967). Like all
foods, bread is a nexus of economic, political, aesthetic, social, sym-
bolic, and health concerns. As traditionally the most important food in
the Sardinian diet, bread is a particularly sensitive indicator of
change.2 Bread has always been the sine qua non of food in Sardinia
and all over Italy and Mediterranean Europe. Le Lannou estimates
the daily diet of the Sardinian peasant in the 1930s as being 78 percent
bread by weight—1200 grams of bread, 200 grams of cooked vegetables
or legumes, 30 grams of cheese, and 100 grams of pasta (1941, 288).
Other commentators on the Sardinian diet confirm this dominant role
of bread over at least the last 150 years (Angioni 1976, 34; Bodio 1879,
200-206; Barbiellini-Amidei and Bandinu 1976, 82-86; Cannas 1975;
Chessa 1906, 279-80; Delitala 1978, 101; La Marmora 1839, 243;
Mathias 1983; Somogyi 1973). Although bread is still the most impor-
tant food, its dietary significance has declined as other foods—espe-
cially meat, pasta, and cheese—have become more accessible
(Counihan 1981, 178-226).


Other things are interesting also but perhaps local antropological museums are more useful (for those who can visit them, I unfortunately never was there, yet)



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Here is an interesting point about the height and agriculture:

https://books.google.com/books?id=XcJWDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT136&lpg=PT136&dq="Genes+did+not+suddenly+change+in+1874.+There+had+to+be+a+social,+political+or+cultural+cause+for+the+change+–+and+it+must+have+been+potent+to+have+had+such+a+strong+and+sudden+impact."&source=bl&ots=LXvCxm_Eiq&sig=ACfU3U3O0TxUJbVpd_s7qOXHZxcSfwRBtA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjv6NvNmKOBAxXdgf0HHaclB9YQ6AF6BAgQEAM#v=onepage&q="Genes did not suddenly change in 1874. There had to be a social%2C political or cultural cause for the change – and it must have been potent to have had such a strong and sudden impact."&f=false



A recent study described analytic research into the history of Sardinian stature, what it means and what it can tell us about the agricultural diet.^ The authors compiled data that tracked the relative heights of Europeans and Sardinians during different periods starting at the time of the Agricultural Revolution.
As the first seeds of agriculture began to drift across Europe about 6,000 years ago, people who at the beginning of the period were 170cm (5ft 7in) tall dipped nearly 5cm (2in) over the following three millennia, before slowly regaining lost stature during the late Victorian period and then climbing quickly during the 20th century. The Sardinian story in statistical terms was dramatically different. Fossil remains of Sardinians from 6,000 years ago show that they were about 9cm (3.5in) shorter, then the mean suddenly climbed to meet the European average during the Bronze Age. There is no obvious reason for this sudden climb. The authors of the 2016 study suggest that it “could be attributed to the coexistence of different ethnic groups on the island or, alternatively, to substantial disparities in the living conditions of early settlers” with populations in the more accessible northern regions of the island showing more growth than those in southern and central areas.
The real story started after this growth spurt. During the years that followed, when Europeans were working hard to reclaim that single inch, Sardinians’ height dipped until the middle of the 19th century. Then between 1861 and 1874 it dipped sharply, so that Sardinians in the 1870s were, astonishingly, shorter than those early settlers in the Neolithic. Another shocking thing about the data is that after this point, Sardinianmean height began to rise at exactly the same rate as it did for Europeans.
Genes did not suddenly change in 1874. There had to be a social, political or cultural cause for the change – and it must have been potent to have had such a strong and sudden impact.
It was, in fact, that the lag in height was the result of the agricultural diet arriving late in Sardinia.
The Nuragic people of prehistory (Sardinia’s first settlers), have been shown to have lived predominantly on animal-derived proteins such as meat and milk. With the arrival of agriculture, this diet shifted to grains, starches and carbohydrates. The less affluent ate a predominantly plant-based diet. The study authors explain: “Global health and body height were greatly affected by these changes that lasted well after the medieval period into the 18th and 19th centuries.”

It is a widely known fact that transformation into agriculture-based life is connected with harder and longer labor time, deseases and life shortening and so on. So the fact that sardinians were mostly local and mostly agricultural up to 1960x and for only 150 years were able to be "intensive" on it (thus have enough calories and nutrients to lower the underdevelopment issues with bodies?) is interesting on its own, their documented longevity looks like developed not in the wide variety of best products available thus cutting out "magical molecules" of various kinds.


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An interesting article discussing the genotype-phenotype aspects of longevity. In the end, it appears to confirm my hypothesis about the interbreeding and isolation that caused an undiluted genotype favorable to longevity to persist. The authors call it a 'genetic island'. The genotype is the engine shaped by evolution, the lifestyle is the fuel, which of course influences the income.


Centenarians as a model to discover genetic and epigenetic signatures of healthy ageing

Author links open overlay panelAnnibale Alessandro Puca a b, Chiara Spinelli a, Giulia Accardi c, Francesco Villa a, Calogero Caruso c

We still need more information about the longevity process. Behind the need to identify key molecules, it is necessary to consider all stochastic events, those linked to the body as well as to mental status, and on the basis of these, design action plans for healthy ageing and longevity. In fact, whereas genetics is driven by natural selection, and so is optimized up to reproductive age, the rest of an organism’s life is strongly guided by environmental factors that can regulate its duration; if the basic genetic force is positive, it can represents a strong value. In fact, the isolation and a high degree of consanguinity typical of areas rich in centenarians create a sort of genetic island in which DNA driving forces play a relevant role. So, we could envision centenarians as having a more powerful “engine”, one shaped by evolution (genetics), with the quality of the “fuel” (environment, diet) as a component that influences outcome.



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Another interesting article on anthropometric measures and diet in Ogliastra-Sardinia and Nicoya, Costa Rica. Subjects were 90-101 years.  Sardinians were pretty small, with an average height of 156 cm (5'1.5"). Diet includes meat (mainly pork) and dairy products in both blue zones and the amounts are not very small. The products are home-raised and home-made though, grass-fed animals. Plant-based food prevails.



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Another study on diet (SArdininan blue-zone, 90-101 years) before and after the transition of early 1960, when the dietary habits in Italy changed. This study as well seems to imply a pretty high consumption of animal protein by the participants. Not so many vegetables nor legumes as I believed.




Pls note that, compared to the traditional Mediterranean diet, in Sardinia less vegetables and fruit are consumed, and more cheese. Probably more starches as well, presently




Compared to the pre-NT epoch, the consumption of meat, olive oil and fresh fruit slightly increased, while the consumption of lard, legumes and vegetables decreased. A significant association was found between increased olive oil intake across NT and self-rated health (ρ = 0.519), mobility (ρ = 0.502), improved vision (ρ = −0.227) and hearing (ρ = −0.314); increased chicken meat intake and performance in activities of daily living (basic activities of daily living: ρ = 0.351; instrumental activities of daily living: ρ = 0.333). Instead, vegetable consumption showed low correlation with health indicators. A mild increase in meat intake, mostly pastured poultry, is associated with better physical performance in the Sardinian LBZ elders, suggesting that a supply of protein may have been crucial to maintaining adequate functional capacity.


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This is the pie-chart illustrated in the bluezone site. Grains and cheese make up the majority of the diet (it is not indicated, probably the percentages are by mass).

Buettner does not report in the Netflix documentary the abundance of cheese, whereas it reports accurately the abundance of cereals.


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The Buettner's Blue Zone site recognizes the basic importance of a genetic marker in the longevity of the Sardinian BZ. Some other studies though, found that there was no significant differentiations between the BZ subgroup and the whole population in Sardinia. So, the M26 marker is still a controversial issue.


Sardinia, Italy

Home to the world's longest-living men.A cluster of villages in a kidney-shaped region on this island make up the first blue zones region we ever identified. In 2004, our research team set off to investigate a rare genetic quirk carried by its inhabitants. The M26 marker is linked to exceptional longevity, and due to geographic isolation, the genes of the residents in this area of Sardinia have remained mostly undiluted. The result: nearly 10 times more centenarians per capita than the U.S.

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On 9/11/2023 at 1:37 PM, mccoy said:

compared to the traditional Mediterranean diet, in Sardinia less vegetables and fruit are consumed, and more cheese. Probably more starches as well, presently

The claim the authors make doesn't appear accurate as far as cheese goes, or olive oil and meat.

I just found the previous thread where we discussed the Sardinian average shepherd diet and the chart I mentioned that I remembered:

This is the diet of the Sardinian shepherds:


 Now, this is the Mediterranean diet




Notable differences between the modest meat, dairy, and OO consumption of the Sardinians, and the broader "Mediterranean" diet.

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Sorry but I didn't remember the thread. the figure above illustrates same amounts in the legend, but different amounts in the plot, something is perhaps amiss?

It is reasonable that the farmers in the Sardinian blue zones eat less dairy products than the shepherds in the same blu zones, but until rigorously proven I cannot accept by logic and experience the fact that shepherds, anywhere they are, do not eat lots of dairy products, especially so raw milk and ricotta (an inexpensive byproduct of cheese production). My region has strong shepherds traditions in the mountains. As far as I've seen, when a young boy, their diet includes the products of their labour.

Whereas they probably ate lamb and kid (goats) only on occasions, since the make money selling them. Ditto for pork and other meat, excluding maybe venison and poultry, cheap meats.

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