More Secrets of Long Life
Campodimele, village of eternal youth (between Naples and Rome) is where Sally Beare next takes us in our quest for centenarians living in peace and harmony. This serene hilltop village 647 metres above sea level has panoramic views of the valley, clean mountain air and wonderful sea breezes. To complete the picture imagine olive groves, fruit and nut trees and tended terraces filled with cultivated vegetables and grains.
At the latest count there were 48 ninety year olds, 3 ninety-nine year olds and 1 member of 104 out of a population of 733. Ninety-four year old Quirino who lives ‘each day as it comes’ only gave up his bicycle two years ago while Guiseppe (102) with alert eyes and smooth skin, until very recently walked up the hill to collect his pension and has always grown and eaten his own vegetables.
The locals take plenty of exercise helping one another with the harvest, breathing fresh air and living with low stress. Their living habits of a nutritious diet have been passed down through generations. A WHO study in 1985 revealed that villagers in their 80s still had low blood pressure. Campodimele residents rise at dawn to work in the fields yielding varieties of apples, pears, oranges and lemons, artichokes, aubergines, cabbage, asparagus, green beans, fennel, cauliflower, rocket, lettuce, peppers, chilli peppers, courgettes, celery, peas, carrots, garlic, onions and tomatoes. Imagine the colour these must present over the hillside and terraces.
Unsurprisingly the villagers love their food which mainly consists of whole wheat bread and pasta, pulses, large amounts of fresh fruit, olive oil and vegetables grown in fertile organic soil rich in minerals.
Home grown home made uncontaminated food without additives, pesticides or artificial substances is the staple diet. Soil rich with organic manure ensures the villagers enjoy top quality fresh ingredients full of flavour and nutrients. They have no sugar, salt or processed foods. They have not succumbed to the ‘Americanizzazione’ as they refer to the modern western attitude to diet and food.
Their low animal diet and eternal exercise promotes a community of people with easy going natures and a sense of emotional balance.
They are not lonely, do not hurry and are stress free. Traffic is banned from the centre of the village. They mostly walk for two hours each day, eat at the same time each day and live from dawn to sunset, taking a siesta for two hours and sleeping eight hours at night.
Sally tells us that a standard food is ‘Chicklings’, which is a vegetable consumed thousands of years ago. These are soaked overnight and then simmered for an hour with garlic and shallots and poured over bread and oil. Their recipes are passed down through the generations.
The diet is perfectly balanced with protein generally from pulse and vegetable sources - fagioli and cicerchie are beans for soups, stews and salads. They use plentiful supplies of herbs and garlic and there is an abundance of almonds around the village which are eaten from the shell. They consume good quantities of omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids through their choices of sardines and other freshly caught fish. They take their small amounts of lean meat from free roaming animals. They make their own sheep and goat’s cheeses and occasionally drink the milk. They also have a special malt drink made from barley and milk.
Their slow relaxed meals bring comfortable digestion; unlike the hurried western habit of eating on the hoof!
The varied range of plant food gives a full quota of fibre and antioxidants. They are not keen on imported fruit and vegetables in case of contaminants - preferring to enjoy the full flavour. Some locals drink the water used for cooking. Try it - it is usually quite sweet and full of goodness leached from the vegetables. My mother encouraged this when I was very young.
Fettuccine with Asparagus - for 2
About 150g asparagus (preferably baby or wild varieties) 200g fettuccine 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 clove garlic – finely chopped 2-3 tbsps parmesan cheese Sea salt and freshly ground pepper Steam asparagus for few minutes until tender but still firm. Meanwhile cook pasta until al dente. Heat oil with garlic and toss together with asparagus. Serve with fettuccine sprinkled with some grated parmesan and add very small amounts of seasoning.
The Live-longer Diet by Sally Beare ISBN: 0-7499-2456-X
Lizee McGraw, Nutritional Therapist, Dunblane. Nutritional Therapy Council Registered Practitioner www.BANT.org.uk