How to Live Longer: Scientists Know Which Personality Traits Could Affect Our Longevity

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Italy takes fifth place in the world when it comes to average longevity. Italian men can expect to live 81 years while women, 95 years. Moreover, this country includes so-called clusters of longevity, including the well-known city of Acciaroli, where each fifth resident is a centenarian. This is even looked upon as a natural phenomenon and a place where people live considerably longer than anywhere else.

Researchers assume that the causes for such longevity include the Mediterranean diet, which is typical for most Italians. Olive oil, fish fat, a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, cheese, olives, and even red wine — all of this is extremely beneficial for a vascular system, according to researchers. Regular intake of foodstuffs included in the Mediterranean diet helps to decrease the risks of stroke, heart attack, and diabetes, which are among the leading causes affecting longevity. But is the correct diet the only cause?

Not by bread alone

Researchers Dilip Jeste from the University of California (San-Diego, USA) and Salvatore di Somma from the University “La Sapienza” (Rome, Italy) have assumed that personality traits can also influence longevity. Scientists have interviewed the oldest residents of Acciaroli and their younger relatives. Scientists were interested to know how older people evaluate their physical and psychological states, the level of stress, anxiety, optimism, and depression. At the same time, scientists have asked younger relatives of the interviewed to evaluate the level of mental health of the participants of the experiment, as well as their level of happiness and satisfaction in life. The authors of the research were also gathering personal records of the volunteers, related to their lives during the war, immigration, and other traumatic events.

Scientists were surprised by the results. While most of the interviewed, aged 90 years and older, were in worse physical shape than younger members of their families, the mental and physical state of older people was considerably better than that of their younger relatives. The residents of Acciaroli were practically free of anxieties, worries, and depression despite their venerable age.

Is it all about optimism?

What helps Italian centenarians to keep optimism and mental health? According to the authors of the research, almost all interviewed mentioned their close relations with their family, their religion as a foothold, and a source of support, their habit to work, sense of responsibility not only for themselves but also for their close ones, as well as, about their strong ties with their land, where they lived and worked.

Despite the fact that almost all participants of the research were over 90 years old, most of them continued doing some agricultural work. One of the participants of the research team, Anna Scelzo, has assumed that it is the ties with and love of the land, that stands as the main reason for the excellent longevity.

“Most of them continue working in their homes and in the fields. They may think, “This is my life, my land, and I will not let it go,” said the researcher.

How to live longer?

Thus, if we want to live longer, we should make use of the experience of the Italian “anomaly.” We could learn from them to remain active, continue working, and continue to remain optimistic even if we had to live through difficult or terrifying times. Their experience also reminds us to keep close ties with Family and society, helping each other and taking care of our close ones.

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