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. 

A woman holding rosemary.
Better stock up on rosemary (and condoms).

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.

This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.

BepiColombo

Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

Learn the Netflix model of high-performing teams

Erin Meyer explains the keeper test and how it can make or break a team.

Videos
  • There are numerous strategies for building and maintaining a high-performing team, but unfortunately they are not plug-and-play. What works for some companies will not necessarily work for others. Erin Meyer, co-author of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, shares one alternative employed by one of the largest tech and media services companies in the world.
  • Instead of the 'Rank and Yank' method once used by GE, Meyer explains how Netflix managers use the 'keeper test' to determine if employees are crucial pieces of the larger team and are worth fighting to keep.
  • "An individual performance problem is a systemic problem that impacts the entire team," she says. This is a valuable lesson that could determine whether the team fails or whether an organization advances to the next level.
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
She was walking down the forest path with a roll of white cloth in her hands. It was trailing behind her like a long veil.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast