0

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If grains are so bad, why do italians live so long?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 25, 2013 at 8:10 PM

Don't worry, I'm not questioning the paleo diet, I've seen the studies and benefits firsthand.

But I do wonder why italy has such a life life expectancy seeing as so much of the diet revolves around grains.

Also, the smoking rate was historically very high and the generation in their 70s-90s now were the generation in their 20s-40s when smoking rates where at their highest

I think maybe its because there really are no truly 1st world paleo countries, most countries eat diets with plenty of grains so eating what would be a conventional healthy diet alng with exercise, low obesity and good healthcare would put you in the lead.

What country's typical day to day cuisine would be the most paleo like?

1963db946ae415764d9044222fbf4c5b

(257)

on March 25, 2013
at 10:29 PM

Yes, the social aspect is very important and extends longevity, even in communities that settled in the US and moved towards the SAD.

89fa2da4805b0b4e54b77a5a20a2e206

(2097)

on March 25, 2013
at 10:22 PM

fuggetaboutit.. canoli and cappicolo all day and nite :) eheh .... NOT! There some truth in jest though and in what those carictures attempt to convey albeit in an exagerated manner and with an american twist of excess..is the celebratory aspect of breaking bread" :P :) no pun intended.. with friends and family and languishing over a 5 course meal as oppose to mindlessly ingesting twinkies chips and tv dinners while sitting in front of the tube.

89fa2da4805b0b4e54b77a5a20a2e206

(2097)

on March 25, 2013
at 10:11 PM

yeah for sure...those cheeses are the ones being touted as one of the reasons for the sardinians beings so long-lived.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 25, 2013
at 10:11 PM

I never liked pasta growing up (I know, I know), but I could HOUSE mom's homemade manicotti. Of the all, I like my grandfather's gnocchi the most (which, of course, has more going on than just wheat).

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on March 25, 2013
at 10:09 PM

I want my fu**en cannoli.

89fa2da4805b0b4e54b77a5a20a2e206

(2097)

on March 25, 2013
at 10:07 PM

the wives poisoned them ...eheheh :) jk. The Great-Pa's didnt fare quite as well- early to Mid 80's. My moms dad died very young though-when she was 4. One of them ive seen pics of was a burlier taller type and the other was smaller stature.

06bf7b92d77f1ac1d8e3dc9d539d8254

(1649)

on March 25, 2013
at 10:06 PM

I'll add that I am half Sicilian and pasta is my 1st and 2nd and 3rd favorite food. I of course don't eat it anymore unless it is made of rice, but nonetheless.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:57 PM

@thegiantess Hard to believe, I know. ;-)

06bf7b92d77f1ac1d8e3dc9d539d8254

(1649)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:54 PM

Really? Not all Italians eat like Tony Soprano? Weird. ;)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:44 PM

and if you dont mind me asking, how tall were the males?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:44 PM

@ mary, what about the males of that generation?

89fa2da4805b0b4e54b77a5a20a2e206

(2097)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:25 PM

its like comparing an american chinese buffet ...to how they eat in china.

Cb8d90e4fa665a7b69df083e897f0d5a

(55)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:00 PM

But yes, pasta and pizza is not the only thing they have! Depending on the region many will eat many different things (pig, meat, fish..)

Cb8d90e4fa665a7b69df083e897f0d5a

(55)

on March 25, 2013
at 08:58 PM

Actually they do. Pasta is a very common meal, as well as pizza panini and focaccia. Plus, they'll have croissants and brioches for breaksfast EVERYDAY. And most italians will tell you you CAN NOT eat more than 3 eggs a week. Though they dont eat as much junk food as in EEUU.

89fa2da4805b0b4e54b77a5a20a2e206

(2097)

on March 25, 2013
at 08:50 PM

Their lifestyles were of course much different than ours is today. These were people who had just enough to get by. No excesses- meager amount of protein sometimes more than others..lots of offal, sheep cheeses, nuts, figs, veggies like spinach and cabbage, tomatoes, from the garden and yes-homemade breads made with semolina flour and probaly kamut too. They also woke at dawn and got their proper sleep too. They had the circadian thing down-pat in those days> Their portions of pasta werent olive garden styles.

89fa2da4805b0b4e54b77a5a20a2e206

(2097)

on March 25, 2013
at 08:50 PM

On my maternal side and from my moms recounting to me having known them all- 4 generations co-exitsed at the same time. My great-great grama lived to 104..my great-grama to 98 and my grama is alive and well at 96 has her mental faculties but suffers from osteo arthritis though.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 25, 2013
at 08:29 PM

The one saving grace of the Olive Garden: wine sold by the meter.

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11 Answers

6
Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 25, 2013
at 08:28 PM

"Italy" is not a Blue Zone, even though Sardina (an island region of Italy) is one. In fact, Naples has the proud distinction of being one of the few places in the world with childhood obesity rates worse than the United States. Many cultures around the Mediterranean have famously healthy societies, but that doesn't mean there's any one special secret, and it especially doesn't mean that secret is grains.

Furthermore, as a 100%, thoroughbred Italian, I take umbrage whenever someone implies that Italians only eat a) grains, b) pasta, or c) pizza. Different regions of Italy have very, very different cuisines. Molise has traditionally been the grain/pasta capital of Italy, but just like you wouldn't expect someone in Hawaii to know how to make fantastic grits, you can't assume all Italians eat like you propose. Many do; many don't. My family's region's shtick was cured meats, cheeses, and legumes.

So, in summary: I pretty much reject your question, since it's biased, and based on a caricature of a varied culture.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on March 25, 2013
at 10:09 PM

I want my fu**en cannoli.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:57 PM

@thegiantess Hard to believe, I know. ;-)

06bf7b92d77f1ac1d8e3dc9d539d8254

(1649)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:54 PM

Really? Not all Italians eat like Tony Soprano? Weird. ;)

89fa2da4805b0b4e54b77a5a20a2e206

(2097)

on March 25, 2013
at 10:22 PM

fuggetaboutit.. canoli and cappicolo all day and nite :) eheh .... NOT! There some truth in jest though and in what those carictures attempt to convey albeit in an exagerated manner and with an american twist of excess..is the celebratory aspect of breaking bread" :P :) no pun intended.. with friends and family and languishing over a 5 course meal as oppose to mindlessly ingesting twinkies chips and tv dinners while sitting in front of the tube.

3
Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:01 PM

Good sausage, olive oil and seafood cover a whole host of dietary sins my son.

3
37cc142fbb183f2758ef723a192e7a9d

(1353)

on March 25, 2013
at 08:35 PM

There are also other social contrasts than diet, for example in many regions of Southern Europe, a less frenetic attitude toward work and productivity resulting in less stress.

1963db946ae415764d9044222fbf4c5b

(257)

on March 25, 2013
at 10:29 PM

Yes, the social aspect is very important and extends longevity, even in communities that settled in the US and moved towards the SAD.

3
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 25, 2013
at 08:28 PM

Italians don't really eat like Americans do at Olive Garden.

89fa2da4805b0b4e54b77a5a20a2e206

(2097)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:25 PM

its like comparing an american chinese buffet ...to how they eat in china.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 25, 2013
at 08:29 PM

The one saving grace of the Olive Garden: wine sold by the meter.

1
06bf7b92d77f1ac1d8e3dc9d539d8254

on March 25, 2013
at 10:04 PM

I agree with the above commenters that point out that Italy is a big place and therefore saying all Italians eat a lot of grains is quite silly.

But, I often wonder this about older people that are near to me. My in-laws for example are in their 60s and just had "executive checkups," wherein they check themselves into the Mayo Clinic for 3 days and have a battery of tests and scans and such. Both are healthy despite eating their weight in breads, pastas, etc. They're not Italian.. they just wish they were. But really they boggle the mind. I spend a large portion of my time gathering, preparing, planning, real food. They don't. They don't think twice about what they eat. If we go out to dinner I will generally get a piece of meat and some veg, maybe starch. They will get some kind of pasta and floury dessert. Additionally, their two children, both in early 30s have/had serious health problems. One had stage 3 cancer (recovered and well) the other has Type 1 Diabetes. So, clearly there is a piece of the puzzle missing here!

I have tried to come at this phenomenon from many different angles and the only thing I can come up with is that they started out strong and that has had a lasting effect. My mother in-laws spent her early years on a farm, naturally eating farmed foods and raw milk. Whereas both of her kids grew up on pizza and coca-cola. Coincidence? Idk. It boggles the mind.

So, point being, maybe the old Italians that you are referring to started off in an idyllic Italy and the younger generations are just screwed.

06bf7b92d77f1ac1d8e3dc9d539d8254

(1649)

on March 25, 2013
at 10:06 PM

I'll add that I am half Sicilian and pasta is my 1st and 2nd and 3rd favorite food. I of course don't eat it anymore unless it is made of rice, but nonetheless.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 25, 2013
at 10:11 PM

I never liked pasta growing up (I know, I know), but I could HOUSE mom's homemade manicotti. Of the all, I like my grandfather's gnocchi the most (which, of course, has more going on than just wheat).

1
20203f15287a14924c714eb68a34ce6c

(596)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:50 PM

Please do not forget about the importance of a healthfull gut biome, nourished by bacteria from raw grass fed cheese, especially from goat and sheep. that alone can set a cascade of tolerance for grains.

89fa2da4805b0b4e54b77a5a20a2e206

(2097)

on March 25, 2013
at 10:11 PM

yeah for sure...those cheeses are the ones being touted as one of the reasons for the sardinians beings so long-lived.

1
203e35ffd7fcab30f07320ad8b150c95

on March 25, 2013
at 08:27 PM

My boyfriends family is from italy and they actually don't eat a lot of grains. When they have pasta, its more of a side dish. His family tends to eat meat and fish with veggies. If they have pasta, the portion size is about the size of softball or smaller.

Cb8d90e4fa665a7b69df083e897f0d5a

(55)

on March 25, 2013
at 08:58 PM

Actually they do. Pasta is a very common meal, as well as pizza panini and focaccia. Plus, they'll have croissants and brioches for breaksfast EVERYDAY. And most italians will tell you you CAN NOT eat more than 3 eggs a week. Though they dont eat as much junk food as in EEUU.

Cb8d90e4fa665a7b69df083e897f0d5a

(55)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:00 PM

But yes, pasta and pizza is not the only thing they have! Depending on the region many will eat many different things (pig, meat, fish..)

0
048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72

on March 25, 2013
at 10:14 PM

It's my guess that Italians may have living for 'so long' (I take that from granted from you're statement since I haven't read any study of this so I cannot say) until now because as @greymouser said, not all Italians will be feasting on pasta & pizza because it's they national dish the same way that we Spanish people are not always eating paella, jamón and red wine.

Well, I guess until now. Globalization has made most food worldwide available and it's my guess that most Italians will be eating tons of grain based foods just as most Europeans and Americans are, specially in big cities where people is very busy and all kind of processed grain food is easy to pick up for a meal.

So maybe the studies find original Italian diet to be one of the most healthy ones like the Mediterranean and all that stuff, but by the way we are heading nowadays, I hardly believe that will be the same scenario for the current generations and that we may be all dying from cancer at our 50's at the most. I can already see this with my friend's parents and other relatives right now and everything is just getting worse.

0
89fa2da4805b0b4e54b77a5a20a2e206

on March 25, 2013
at 09:41 PM

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html http://www.disabled-world.com/calculators-charts/life-expectancy-statistics.php

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:05 PM

racism redacted

-1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 25, 2013
at 09:10 PM

racism redacted

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