The secret to living past 100? Lots of sex. Also, rosemary.
1 in 10 people in Acciaroli, Italy are over 100 years old. Their secret to longevity? Their biology, diet, and the high-levels of friskiness among the elderly.
Acciaroli is a quaint little town in south-west Italy. Tucked into the Cilento coast 85 miles south of Naples, its winding cobblestone roads, small stone houses, and friendly locals could have been plucked straight from the movie Chocolat. Acciaroli has one major difference to its idyllic French counterpart; more than 1 in 10 of its residents is over 100 years old.
Researchers from Rome's Sapineza University and the University of California San Diego spent six months studying Acciaroli's 700 residents. They discovered that those residents have “unusually good blood circulation for their age," The Independent reports. The 100-year-old residents had circulation similar to Americans in their 20s and 30s. The key element aiding that circulation was low levels of adrenomedullin, a hormone that widens blood vessels. Adrenomedullin builds up over time and causes blood vessels to contract, which often leads to vascular problems like cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of death for men and women over 65, according to the American Heart Association. Acciaroli's residents are safe from those issues, because they have adrenomedullin “in a much reduced quantity… and [it] seems to act as a powerful protecting factor, helping the optimal development of microcirculation, or capillary circulation," The Independent reports.
100-year-old Antonio Vassallo and his wife Amina Fedollo, 93, pose in their house in Acciaroli, southern Italy. The town has a disproportionately high number of centenarians in its population of about 2,000, and is renowned for its low rates of heart disease and Alzheimer's. A study attempted to find out why 300 people there have hit the 100 mark. (Photo: MARIO LAPORTA/AFP/Getty Images)
Acciaroli residents were able to keep their adrenomedullin levels low due to a number of factors. They ate locally sourced fish, rabbit, and chicken. They also ate home-grown vegetables, and olive oil. All of those foods are staples of the Mediterranean diet, which has numerous health benefits including reducing cardiovascular disease. The locals also eat rosemary, which the researchers found to help improve brain function. “When we tested it, we found a dozen different compounds in there," said UC San Diego cardiologist Dr Alan Maisel to The Telegraph. “Scientific studies have shown that acids [in rosemary] help the function of the brain." That diet does seem to lead to increased health and longevity. Psychiatrist Drew Ramsay told us why here:
There is one other thing helping the residents of Acciaroli live to 100: sex. Lots and lots of it. “Sexual activity among the elderly appears to be rampant," Dr Maisel told The Telegraph. “Maybe living long has something to do with that. It's probably the good air and the joie de vivre." Research out of Wilkes University in Pennsylvania backs that up, according to WebMD: it found that people who have sex have higher levels of antibodies that defend against germs and viruses than people who don't. Regular sexual activity also lowers blood pressure. “One landmark study found that sexual intercourse specifically (not masturbation) lowered systolic blood pressure," Dr. Joseph J. Pinzone CEO of Amai Wellness told WebMD.
“This project will not only help to unlock some of the secrets of healthy aging, but will build closer ties with researchers across the globe, which will lead to more science and improved clinical care in our aging population," said Salvatore DiSomma, MD, lead Italian investigator and professor of emergency medicine at University of Rome La Sapienza in a statement. While all of those results still need to be replicated before becoming gospel, they do follow general longevity guidelines. So take heart, eat more foods that reduce the effects of cardiovascular disease, and have more sex. It's all good for you.
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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