In our country, it’s typically the men who kick the bucket first. Their life expectancy is about three years shorter, and when you combine this with the fact that many men are older than their spouse, you’ll understand why it’s the women who end up alone for the later part of their lives. But what if they didn’t have to be alone?

Researchers from the San Diego School of Medicine and Rome’s Sapienza University have teamed up to investigate the lifestyle habits of residents in Acciaroli, Italy and nearby communities. In these cliff-side villages, the men live just as long as the women, and more of them are living to the age of 100 than anywhere else in the world. The study involved blood tests and questionnaires that looked at metabolomics, biomes, cognitive dysfunction, and protein biomarkers for risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease and cancer. What they found is that lifestyle matters.

Here are the four secrets that you can apply to your daily routine.

1. Eat a Mediterranean diet.

In the U.S. we have access to a variety of food, but what choices lead to optimum health? Only 0.02 percent of Americans will make it to age 100, yet among the 700 inhabitants of Acciaroli, 81 have hit the century mark. The first researchers given permission to study this population tested a group of 300 citizens who were all over 100-years old and living along the coast of Italy.

What they found is that these residents have a crazy-low rate of heart disease and other chronic conditions experienced by aging men in the Western world. Back in 2010, the U.S. nutritionist Ancel Keys introduced evidence to suggest a diet based on olive oil, seafood, and fresh produce offered optimum health benefits. Her thesis was supported by the living evidence of Acciaroli’s centenarians. They eat a lot of fresh fish, produce, and olive oil, and they grow much of it themselves.

2. Enjoy rosemary.

Another surprising thing revealed by the study is that the men of Acciaroli have very low rates of Alzheimer’s.  Scientists know that rosemary improves brain function, and residents of Acciaroli consume the herb almost every day. They also grow it themselves.

Rosemary derives from the Latin “Rosmarinus” meaning “dew of the sea.” It’s long been used in traditional Mediterranean cooking, but its antioxidant effects have also been shown to reduce inflammation. Try using it dried or fresh in rubs for lamb and pork, with roasted vegetables, or in soups. It’s also easy to grow in a container on the patio or front step. Simply place in a sunny spot and keep it pruned by harvesting regularly.

3. Get plenty of “exercise.”

In addition to the backyard gardens, the streets of Acciaroli are hilly and steep. Residents every day are faced with the task of walking a tough terrain as part of their regular routine.  This might explain why scientists found their test subjects’ capillary blood vessels to be youthful and not in a state of degeneration like in most old people.

The men and women of this tiny Italian village have blood vessels like people in their 20s. Could it be from all the walking and gardening? Or something else? Another secret discovered by the scientists is that sexual activity among the elderly men of this region is “rampant.” Hmmmmm…

4. Lower your stress.

Aside from the physical benefits of the village life, scientists also speculate that lower stress adds to overall satisfaction and a sense of well-being. The men of Acciaroli enjoy outdoor cafes where they sit with friends and chat. Studies in the U.S. have found that women tend to maintain their social connections better than men, and isolation, as we age, leads to unhappiness.  

In addition to hanging out with your friends, having a regular income also reduces stress and increases happiness. A Towers Watson survey found that retirees with regular income are happier than those who are living off their investments. Investments inside an IRA may be an effective way to save, but it only provides income for one individual. Married people who want to stay together during retirement can also plan for an income together by rolling their respective IRAs into an annuity. This gives you more flexibility to build a joint income. An index annuity with a lifetime income option, for example, gives you both a guaranteed lifetime income even if you both live to 100 like the residents of Acciaroli.

Are you ready to take the stress out of your retirement portfolio? Shop around with us to find out which annuity options might be right for you. We are passionate about giving retirement income planning advice without all the high-pressure and sales gimmicks. Just the facts so you can decide for yourself. GO HERE to get some answers to your retirement planning questions.

And may you live happily ever after.

Build Wealth Like A Millionaire Without Saving In A 401(K)