In 2004, I teamed up with National Geographic and hired the world's best longevity experts to find pockets around the globe where people lived measurably better.
We found a number of places where people reach the age of 100 at a rate 10 times greater than that in the US, which we termed Blue Zones - Okinawa in Japan, Loma Linda in California, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Greek island Ikaria and Sardinia.
In 2011, more research showed that Villagrande Strisaili, a Sardinian village of 3,000 people, has the world's longest-lived men, many of whom work or worked as shepherds. While one in 4,000 Americans live to over 100, here it's one in 600. And while female centenarians usually outnumber males 5:1, here more men reach the milestone than women. There were a few lessons on why they live so long...
A Good Diet
The people in Villagrande Strisaili have a plant-based diet with lots of fava beans, goat's milk and bread made from unleavened durum wheat, often only eating meat on special occasions. The local Cannonau wine also has three times the level of antioxidants as other wines.
A history of invasions has helped lead to an emphasis on family and community values. People in strong families suffer lower rates of stress, depression and suicide.
Sardinian men are famous for gathering in the streets for a laugh every afternoon, something proven to relieve stress - the term "sardonic" originates in Sardinia.
A Good Walk
Another reason Sardinian men often live longer than the women, is that shepherds may walk more than five miles a day, and walking is good for muscles and bones without the joint-pounding of running.