A doctor has revealed the secrets behind the “world’s healthiest village”– and there it all comes down to eating less sugar.
Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra – who describes himself as a former sugar addict – has spent years studying the reasons behind rocketing rates of heart disease and obesity in Britain.
Key to his research were residents of the village of Pioppi, in southern Italy, where diabetes is unheard of and many live to over the age of 100.
After studying the Pioppians, Dr Malhotra found it was their lifestyle that gave them many years of extra life.
Diet was a key factor as was lack of stress, seven hours of sleep a night and eating sugar just once a week.
He has concluded that “simple lifestyle changes such as consuming less sugar were more powerful than any medication doctors could prescribe”.
Pioppi is recognised by Unesco as the home of the Mediterranean diet.
Key tips include using olive oil, not fearing fat but limiting intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Dr Malhotra said: “Yes, the local eat pasta – but only in small quantities, and they rarely touch sugar.
“They only eat dessert on a Sunday, pizza once or twice a month. They take time over lunch. They don’t have a gym but they are constantly on the go.”
He estimated that if the British adopted the lifestyle changes they can achieve results within three weeks and, in some cases, even reverse Type 2 diabetes.
“Diet is the number one issue,” he said.
“More than physical inactivity smoking and alcohol, it contributes to more disease and deaths. This should be the message from doctors – food is medicine.”
He added: “There is no such thing as a healthy weight, but a healthy person. That is what we should all be aiming for.
“Living like a Pioppian would mean a reduction in the 20 million annual deaths worldwide caused by cardiovascular disease.
“Plus obesity reversed and levels of Type 2 diabetes declining. That’s my ultimate…