health

The secret to how so many people in this Italian town are living to 100.

What is the secret to eternal youth?

Apple cider vinegar? Bikram yoga? Lots and lots of money?

Apparently not. A tiny Italian village is schooling the modern world in the secret to a long and happy life, with their local retirement home seeing a staggering one in 10 residents living to 100 years old.

Yep, 81 out of 700 locals in the seaside village of Acciaroli are 100 years or older. It’s such a remarkable figure that it’s attracted scientists from around the world trying to figure out their secret to good health.

For the last six months, American and Italian scientists have lived among the octogenarians to observe their living patterns, which have also resulted in oddly low rates of dementia, alzheimer’s, heart disease, and other ‘old age’ conditions.

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The study, collated by scientists from Rome’s Sapienza University and the San Diego School of Medicine are releasing their findings today in the town.

Spoiler alert: these golden oldies are basically grey-haired superheroes.

Italian Antonio Vassallo, 100 years-old, and his wife Amina Fedollo, 93, pose in their house in Acciaroli, southern Italy. (Getty Images)

And yet, despite months and months of being watched by the scientists, their secret to eternal youth is actually, well, really pretty simple.

Fresh organic produce, sunshine, plenty of exercise, no smoking or excessive drinking, and er, lots of sex have been the constants between the 100-year-old residents being researched.

Antonio Vassalo, 100, said that his diet consists only of what he can catch and grow himself. Think fresh fish, veggies from the garden, locally made olive oil, and plenty of herbs such as rosemary and basil.

'We only eat healthy stuff," said Antonio to AFP , with his 93-year-old wife Amina adding, "We eat a lot of fish, fresh produce from the countryside that we grow ourselves. We have our own rabbits, our chickens. Only local products. And olive oil: we consume what we produce."

Health lunch options (to help you live to 100). Post continues after video.

The goal of the study, according to Dr Alan S. Maisel is the San Diego cardiologist heading up the project, was to put together a sort of old-person checklist which can guide elderly people to living longer and healthier.

"What we would like to create is a sort of clinical scoresheet," said Dr Maisel.

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"A tool that says that someone who wants to live well for a long time should have a certain type of diet, a certain level of physical activity, a certain type of social life and a certain way of thinking."

Fresh fish was a staple of the Italians' diets.

One interesting finding was the high levels of locally-grown rosemary that the locals were eating.

"They eat rosemary almost every day, and they grow it - maybe this does something that helps?" says Dr Maisel.

"We know that rosemary improves brain function."

(Note to self: buy rosemary plant, ASAP.)

The red flag marks the village of Acciaoli, where 1 in 10 residents live to 100.

Dr Maisel said their team were also surprised at the relatively equal levels of men and women who reached 100 in the village, as usually it's the women who live longer.

He reckons this could be because of the amount of time they spend between the sheets.

"Sexual activity among the elderly appears to be rampant," he noted. "Maybe living long has something to do with that, it's probably the good air and the joie de vivre."

We'll have what they're having.

Featured image: Getty.

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