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Eat This One Food for a Longer Life — Not That

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Exploring the Secrets of the Sardinian Diet: Lessons from the World’s Healthiest People

Are Carbs the Secret to a Longer Life? Lessons from Sardinia

In his new Netflix documentary series Down To Earth, Zac Efron explores healthy, sustainable ways to live with wellness expert Darin Olien. In the fourth episode, Efron visits Sardinia, Italy, known for having the highest number of centenarians per capita. This area is one of the five “Blue Zones” on the planet, where people live longer and healthier lives. The secret to their longevity? A high-carb diet.

The Sardinian diet, which includes a steady amount of carbs, shocked Efron, who had previously focused on a high-protein, low-carb diet for a role in Baywatch. The Sardinians’ focus on natural, whole foods, including lots of vegetables and fruits, stood out to Efron and Olien.

But is there scientific evidence to support the claims about a high-carb diet? We delved into the research and spoke with registered dietitians to understand the bigger picture behind the lifestyle of the “world’s healthiest people.”

One of the risks of a high-protein diet, as discussed in the episode, is the promotion of age-related diseases like heart disease and cancer. Studies show that animal protein, particularly red meat, contains methionine, which can accelerate the aging process. Consuming too much protein can have dangerous side effects, including weight gain and increased risk of chronic diseases.

Experts emphasize the importance of proper portion sizes and a balanced diet that includes lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. The Sardinians’ focus on whole, natural foods and smaller portions aligns with recommendations for healthy eating.

The Sardinian diet closely resembles the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes produce, nuts, olive oil, fish, whole grains, and wine. Reports on the healthiest countries in the world highlight commonalities in diet, such as a focus on vegetables, fish, and legumes, and a reduction in sweets and processed foods.

While diet plays a significant role in longevity, other factors like genetics, physical activity, low stress levels, and community support also contribute to the Sardinians’ long and healthy lives. It’s a combination of healthy habits, a balanced diet, movement, stress management, and social connections that promote overall well-being.

So, does eating more pasta and less steak guarantee a longer life? Not exactly. It’s about adopting a holistic approach to health, including a focus on real, whole foods, limiting animal protein intake, staying active, managing stress, and enjoying life in the company of others. And a glass of red wine now and then certainly doesn’t hurt.

In conclusion, the lessons from Sardinia suggest that a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, along with a healthy lifestyle, can contribute to longevity and overall well-being. It’s not just about what you eat, but how you eat and live that matters. Embracing the Sardinian way of life may hold the key to a healthier, happier, and longer life.

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