just returned from a wonderful sabbatical in Italy and wanted to share some
important tidbits on health that I learned and experienced.
I mentioned on my homepage, a certain part of Italy is considered a blue zone. This is a region where people
tend to live longer, healthier lives. Among the common characteristics of these 5 areas that span the globe, some
well-accepted health aspects and some that literally go “against the
grain,” are reported by Dan Buettner. Dan is an author who studied and reported extensively in his writings on these
centenarians. These factors include:
Consuming a diet high in phytonutrients, including imbibing coffee and vino
Not passing on the bread & enjoying some dough
Allowing time for pleasurable activities
Future planning due to a decreased concern for dying
can read more about these factors, including information on the pushback on
Paleo, and explore my references here.
Below are some other healthy tidbits inspired from Italy trip.
1. The Healing Potential of Music
had the pleasure of experiencing an Andrea Bocelli opera while in Italy. What
does this have to do with health? According to an article in Psychology Today,
music would satisfy the social support characteristic of the longer-living people referenced above.
This is because music connects people. It also has the benefit of decreasing
stress and increasing positive thoughts, if the music has prosocial lyrics.
2. The Power of Non-GMO Food
are no GMOs in Italy, this makes their food fresher. I wrote about GMOs
extensively on this site.
3. The Health Benefits of the
recent meta-analysis reported:
Mediterranean diet was found to be a healthy dietary pattern in terms of
morbidity and mortality. By using data from the cohort studies we proposed a
literature-based adherence score that can represent an easy tool for the
estimation of adherence to the Mediterranean diet also at the individual level.
4. Italian Coffee!
to Health Day:
A study of more than 1,400 Italian
seniors finds links between patterns of coffee consumption and their risk for
“mild cognitive impairment” — declines in memory and thinking that
are often a precursor to dementia.
The study could only point to
associations, not cause-and-effect, the investigators said. But prior research
has suggested that caffeine might impact neurological health.
5. Use Lots of Spices for Brain Health
food is loaded with spices. According to Science Daily:
Rosemary not only tastes good in
culinary dishes such as rosemary chicken and lamb, but scientists have now found
it is also good for your brain. The herb rosemary contains an ingredient that
fights off free radical damage in the brain, according to new research. The
active ingredient in rosemary, known as carnosic acid, can protect the brain
from stroke and neurodegeneration that is due to injurious chemical free
6. Italian Vino Is High in Polyphenols
health impact of wine is effected by the bioavailability of its
polyphenols. Several studies have demonstrated how a wine is cultivated and the soil in which it is grown are important determinants in producing these beneficial constituents. Hence, a fine Italian wine could be a good source of
antioxidants and inflammation modulating components, if imbibed in moderation.
7. The Importance of Vacations
of the most important experiences I had in Italy was witnessing the calmness and beauty of
its inhabitants. They seemed to enjoy “mini-vacations” throughout
their day, taking time for pleasurable experiences and connections.
to Dr. Mercola, “Lack of adequate vacation time can lead to workplace
errors, cynicism, counterproductive work behaviors, and physical pain.”
Furthermore, excess stress from burnout can impact sleep, mood, and
Hopefully, my vacation take-a ways are helpful hints for incorporating some healthy European tidbits!
My Dinner With Longevity Expert Dan Buettner (No
Kale Required). New York Times. August 1, 2015.
M. Does Music Have Healing Potential? Psychology Today. February 4, 2014.
intake of differently fed salmon; the influence on markers of human
atherosclerosis. Eur J Clin Invest. 2005 Jan;35(1):52-9.
F, Macchi C, Abbate R, Gensini GF, Casini A. Mediterranean diet and health
status: an updated meta-analysis and a proposal for a literature-based
adherence score. Public Health Nutr. 2014 Dec;17(12):2769-82. doi:
10.1017/S1368980013003169. Epub 2013 Nov 29.
Regular, Moderate Coffee Drinking Tied to Better
Brain Health in Seniors. Health Day. June 1, 2015.
drinking may lower inflammation, reduce diabetes risk. Reuters. July 20, 2015.
Institute for Medical Research. Rosemary Chicken Protects Your Brain From Free
Radicals. ScienceDaily. November 2, 2007.
of viticulture practices on concentration of polyphenolic compounds and total
antioxidant capacity of Southern Italy red wines. Food Chem. 2014;152:467-74. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.11.142.
Epub 2013 Dec 1.
spectroscopy evaluation of direct relationship between soils and molecular
composition of red wines from Aglianico grapes. Anal Chim Acta. 2010 Jul 19;673(2):167-72. doi:
10.1016/j.aca.2010.06.003. Epub 2010 Jun 9.
and biological profile of autochthonous Vitis vinifera L. ecotypes. Food Funct. 2015 May;6(5):1526-38. doi:
wine consumption in chronic heart failure: impact on outcomes, quality of life,
and circulating biomarkers. Circ Heart
Fail. 2015 May;8(3):428-37. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.114.002091. Epub
2015 Apr 29.
J. 10 Signs You Need a Vacation. Mercola.com. July 30, 2015.