Mediterranean Diet and Longevity in Sicily: Survey in a Sicani Mountains Population

Immunosenescence Unit, Department of Pathobiology and Medical and Forensic Biotechnologies, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.
Rejuvenation Research (Impact Factor: 3.31). 04/2012; 15(2):184-8. DOI: 10.1089/rej.2011.1280
Source: PubMed


Over the past several years, increasing evidence suggests that the Mediterranean diet has a beneficial influence on several age-related diseases, showing protective effect on health and longevity. Mediterranean diet refers to dietary patterns found in olive-growing regions of the Mediterranean countries. Previous data reported that in Sicily, Italy, the largest Mediterranean island, there are some mountainous regions where there is a high frequency of male centenarians with respect to the Italian average. The aim of the present study was to characterize centenarians living in one of this region, the Sicani Mountains, located in western Sicily. Present data shows that in this zone there are more centenarians with respect to the Italian average. In fact, in the three villages of the Sicani Mountains, there were 15 people ranging from 100 to 107 years old, of the total population of about 10,000 inhabitants. This centenarian number was more than six-fold higher the national average (15.0 vs. 2.4/10,000); the female/male ratio was 1.5 in the study area, whereas the national ratio is 4.54. Centenarians living in these villages had anthropometric measurements within normal limits and moderate sensory disability without any sign of age-related diseases, including cognitive deterioration and dementia. In addition, their clinical chemistry profile was similar to young controls and far better than that of old controls. Unequivocally, their nutritional assessment showed a high adherence to the Mediterranean nutritional profile, with low glycemic index food consumed. Overall, close adherence to Mediterranean diet seems to play a key role in age-related disease prevention and in attaining longevity.

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    • "A diet rich in vegetables and fruit, such as Mediterranean diet, may contain these nutrients. Sicilian centenarians are characterized to observe this kind of diet, as we reported [73]. Since genetic and environmental factors contribute to longevity, it may suggest that epigenetic events associated to the modifications diet-induced are very important for successful ageing processes. "
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    ABSTRACT: The demographic and social changes of the past decades have determined improvements in public health and longevity. So, the number of centenarians is increasing as a worldwide phenomenon. Scientists have focused their attention on centenarians as optimal model to address the biological mechanisms of "successful and unsuccessful ageing". They are equipped to reach the extreme limits of human life span and, most importantly, to show relatively good health, being able to perform their routine daily life and to escape fatal age-related diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Thus, particular attention has been centered on their genetic background and immune system. In this review, we report our data gathered for over 10 years in Sicilian centenarians. Based on results obtained, we suggest longevity as the result of an optimal performance of immune system and an over-expression of anti-inflammatory sequence variants of immune/inflammatory genes. However, as well known, genetic, epigenetic, stochastic and environmental factors seem to have a crucial role in ageing and longevity. Epigenetics is associated with ageing, as demonstrated in many studies. In particular, ageing is associated with a global loss of methylation state. Thus, the aim of future studies will be to analyze the weight of epigenetic changes in ageing and longevity.
    Immunity & Ageing 04/2012; 9(1):8. DOI:10.1186/1742-4933-9-8 · 3.54 Impact Factor
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    • "The Sicanian Mountains (or Sicani), bordered by Ficuzza wood in the North, Caltanissetta in the East, Salemi in the West and Agrigento to the South represent a very peculiar area where there is a high frequency of centenarians with respect to the Italian average [11,12]. The goal of this study was to characterize the dietary habits of centenarians residing around the Sicani mountains, in 5 villages, namely Giuliana, Bisacquino, Castronovo, Chiusa Scalafani, and Prizzi. "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper pays attention to the modifiable lifestyle factors such as diet and nutrition that might influence life extension and successful ageing. Previous data reported that in Sicily, the biggest Mediterranean island, there are some places where there is a high frequency of male centenarians with respect to the Italian average. The present data show that in Sicani Mountain zone there are more centenarians with respect to the Italian average. In fact, in five villages of Sicani Mountains, there were 19 people with an age range of 100-107 years old from a total population of 18,328 inhabitants. So, the centenarian number was 4.32-fold higher than the national average (10.37 vs. 2.4/10,000); the female/male ratio was 1.1:1 in the study area, while the national ratio is 4.54:1. Unequivocally, their nutritional assessment showed a high adherence to the Mediterranean nutritional profile with low glycemic index food consumed. To reach successful ageing it is advisable to follow a diet with low quantity of saturated fat and high amount of fruits and vegetables rich in phytochemicals.
    Immunity & Ageing 04/2012; 9(1):10. DOI:10.1186/1742-4933-9-10 · 3.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human ageing is characterized by several abnormalities of both innate and adaptive immune responses, thus leading to an increased frequency of infectious, inflammatory, allergic and autoimmune diseases. In elderly patients, among allergic diseases, asthma is a very common pathological event which complicates the dysfunction of many systems. Among a variety of natural products used to modulate the altered immune response, polyphenols have been shown to exert anti-inflammatory activities in both young and aged persons. Here, special emphasis will be given to the the immune-modulating effects of Leucoselect® Phytosome® (a dietary supplement enriched in the flavonoid epigallocatechin) administered to frail elderly patients. Leucoselect® Phytosome® was able to upregulate the T helper (Th)1 response [increase in serum concentrations of interleukin (IL)-2 and interferon-γ]. On the other hand, IL-4 serum levels, as an index of Th2 function, fluctuated within normal ranges. Quite interestingly, in this cohort of frail aged patients from south Italy the balance between inflammation (IL-17) and anti-inflammation (IL-10) was preserved, thus suggesting that the Mediterranean diet might have been involved in the observed effects.
    Current pharmaceutical design 05/2013; 20(6). DOI:10.2174/138161282006140220144411 · 3.45 Impact Factor
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