Sardinians are content people, it strikes. Elderly gather with children and grandchildren outside their houses, in the streets, cafés, bars. They laugh, they smile, they appreciate. Not only content, Sardinians are healthy people. In 2020, Sardinia had the highest life expectancy world wide with double as much centenarians, people over 100 years, as average.
Since I’ve been to Sardinia many times, I wonder why Sardinians live so much longer. What are those secrets to a long life we don’t know about?
1. Cuisine alla Sarda
Sardinians eat a lot of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, olive oil. Also, they consume goat’s and sheep’s milk and cheese known for it’s high nutritional value and anti-inflammatory effect. As part of the population lives as shepherds and farmers, they enjoy goat’s meet, lamb, beef and other meat. However, because meat is not available in larger quantities it’s consumed little. And it’s free-range and organic.
It’s not only about what they eat, but where it comes from. Sardinians are highly self-reliant, producing a lot of food on their own. As shepherds they make their own milk, cheese and the occasional meat. Also, their own bread and pasta from whole-wheat flour.
Most importantly, they grow own vegetables wherever possible, from a field to a small patch in their garden. Sardinians plant everything from eggplant, broad beans, green beans, garlic, onions, artichokes, zucchini, potatoes, capers, olives, herbs and swap products with neighbors.
What about it?
Diet is substantial to our well-being, that doesn’t come as a surprise.
Growing our own food makes us eat healthier and more conscious. But being able to bring self-made pasta and freshly harvested zucchini and tomatoes to the table, makes us proud. It gives a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment no Greek supermarket salad could provide.
2. A Cannonau a Day
The local red wine is popular for it’s strong flavor, not only in Sardinia. Sardinians have several glasses throughout the day, whereas one glass is slightly bigger than a shot glass. The red wine is made from sun-stressed grapes and known for it’s rich antioxidants three times higher than other red wine.
Sardinians appreciate their glass of wine. They’re in no hurry. It’s savored, from the first to the very last sip.
What about it?
Next time we’re having a glass of red wine, we’ll have it just like them, in all serenity.
3. The Sea, the Sun, the Mountains
Sardinians have the undeniable benefit of living on an Mediterranean island with the best and unpolluted air and 300 sunny days a year.
They live in an ideal environment. Life takes place outdoors and in tune with nature.
What about it?
Geography plays a role. We might be happy everywhere, but not healthy.
4. Family & Friends
First and foremost, there is family. Children, siblings, great-grandchildren, uncles, aunties, family tiers are strong and enlarged. Elderly are integrated and don’t live in elderly houses. Families support each other wherever possible. Elderly still play an important role; they stay active, cook the meals, look after grandchildren, nurture the vegetable’s garden and do household chores. They are happy to live, happy being significant for the community and having loving people around them.
On the weekends whole family generations move to the beach, from the two-year-old to the 102-year-old.
Strolling through villages, you realize an active social life is typical. Gathering in front of houses, parks, bars, outside of churches, Sardinians are connected.
What about it?
Being alone doesn’t do well, for nothing and nobody. No matter how old we are, we need human connections and a sense of appreciation. Whenever possible, we should free that extra time for grand parents and the people we love. It’s so precious, isn’t it??
5. Staying Active
Throughout their life, Sardinians stay active. Although everyone is busy, no one overworks or obsesses over careers. They get up at dawn, plant, water, harvest, do the house keeping, cook meals, hoe the vineyard and look after the kettle. Shepherds and farmers herd sheep all day, usually walking several kilometers a day.
Due to the mountainous terrain people exercise naturally and in fresh air even when growing older. The Sardinian environment is like a life-giving landscape because it requires physical activity together with already demanding day-to-day chores.
What about it?
There are many conditions likely to contribute to a long and healthy life, staying active is one of them. Even when our everyday life doesn’t naturally involve a lot of movement, we should get active. It keeps us sane, physically and mentally, right?
6. The Attitude
It’s a healthy way of life, oh yes. Sardinians have a balanced diet, a strong social support network and natural sort of exercise.
But more than that, it’s a healthy attitude. Whether it’s cutting vegetables, shopping groceries or having the daily Cannonau, they have all the time in the world. At least, they act like that. I’ve been to Sardinia many times, but honestly, what I’ve never seen, is someone in a rush. No matter how long the supermarket queue is or how long you’ve been waiting for someone in the bar, no one would even think to stress about it.
Sardinians know to enjoy the exact moment of life. When having a glass of wine, they’re having a glass of wine. No worrying about the past, the future, the weather or the news.
Life is carefree and slowed-down, simple and – healthy.
Implementing this attitude to our everyday-life isn’t super easy. What we can do once in a while, is to seek those places where it comes natural to slow-down and enjoy the very moment. Like Sardinia. The smell of wild herbs, junipers and marquis, the gentle sound of sheep’s bells. The feeling of simplicity and closeness to nature is tangible, the carefree attitude contagious. After a few days you’ll be at ease and enjoy your glass of red to the fullest.