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President’s Point - August 2016

August 2016

As I grow older, my focus has shifted from being socially active to being mentally and physically fit. I think about simplifying my life and making the most out of every day I have left. Unfortunately, we baby boomers have more to look back on than to look forward to and what I ponder most is why this approach to life did not occur to me in younger years. 

I was fascinated by recently read articles about living beyond 100 and learning that the number of centenarians in Italy has tripled over the last 15 years. This statistic has drawn the interest of the global scientific community who believe it is attributable to the country’s unique diet and way of life. There is, in fact, one small village in Southern Italy that has 300 centenarians, about one third of the town’s total population! Out of the 300, 20 percent have reached 110. In Italy as a whole, there are 19,000 people over the age of 100. With those numbers, it is easy to see how Italy has the second highest average life expectancy in the world.

When it comes to longevity, Sardinia has a large number of residents 100 and above and is one of only four geographic areas aptly named “blue zones.” The other three are Okinawa, the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica, and Ikaria in the Greek isles. The diet in Sardinia, like much of Italy is low in meat and high in legumes, based around fresh local produce – beans, peas and lentils. In particular, research has shown that regional red wine and cheese play an important role. Cheeses from fresh goat and sheep milk boost digestive and urinary health and the wine, drunk at every lunch and dinner, is high in antioxidant compounds which help slow the aging process.

The most important message I gleaned from reading about old age in Italy was - how people treat their elders is likely as important as what they eat and drink. Strong family ties mean senior citizens are lovingly looked after and highly respected. This familial care can add four to six years to adult lives. Love and attention have proven to protect against age-related diseases and slow cognitive degeneration. 

So let’s all take a lesson from the Italians book of life. Be passionate about caring for the elderly, open a bottle of wine, put out an assortment of cheese, and share it daily with family and friends.    
 

Thank you for your continued support!

Mark D. Baldino
Contact me @
baldinom@ecsbigbend.org
(850) 245-5930

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