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NEWS

The Sardinian Way

Jennifer Oechsner

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Last weekend I returned from an amazing trip to Italy. I had the great fortune to host my most recent yoga adventure on the island of Sardinia. The island was the perfect backdrop, I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful location. We spent part of the week in the charming Catelonian city of Alghero and part in the cozy beach town of Cala Gonone. We swam in the awe inspiring turquoise waters Sardinia is famous for, practiced yoga, ate, drank and explored together. It was an week filled with deliciousness, adventure and laughter. 

Being on Sardinia for a week was magical. I felt that I could easily slide into life there. I could feel the slower pace, the energy of the people and natural beauty draw me in. I loved starting my days with a walk or a run, sipping a cappuccino and taking in the surroundings. 

One of the interesting things about Sardinia is the longevity of its people. Sardinia is one of 5 "Blue Zones" in the world which are areas identified as having inhabitants that often live beyond 90. The other four are Okinawa (Japan), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Icaria (Greece) and the Seventh-day Adventist community in Loma Linda, Calif.

The secrets of the longer lives in Sardinia aren't really that surprising. Seafood is plentiful and meat has a weekly rather than daily presence in the diet. Sheep cheese is a staple and goats milk is part of the traditional diet. Sheep cheese is more nutritionally dense and much easier to digest than cheese made from cow's milk. Goats milk is high in omega-3 fatty acids and is anti-inflammatory.  Sardinians also eat what they grow and grow what they eat. Being an island, access to food from elsewhere is more costly and less accessible. As a result, sustainability reigns and eating with the seasons is the common way to go.

Another influence of the long lives of Sardininans is the inclusion of a small amount of red wine on a daily basis. The traditional red wine produced there, cannanau, is particularly high in flavanoids which are anti-inflammatory and help ward off disease including heart disease and alzheimers.

Sardinians also take things at a slower pace and live in community. Meals are an event shared with friends and family. They take time to prepare, to enjoy and linger over them. Elders are cherished and looked after. Afternoons are  quiet and slow and Sundays are more often a day of rest. I feel blessed to have experienced a small sliver of life on Sardinia and look forward to the day I can return.