Abruzzo centenarians’ ‘sdijuno’ for longevity


The ‘sdijuno’ – stappadigiuno – may be among the determinants of the longevity of Abruzzo’s centenarians. Whose eating habits are now the focus of the ‘CenTEnari’ study, coordinated by Professor Mauro Serafini of the University of Teramo’s Faculty of Biosciences.

The ‘sdijuno’

In the traditional eating habits of the Abruzzese, ‘sdijuno’ – the breaking of the fast – was the first hearty and substantial meal of the day. Consumed at 12 noon, it preceded the frugal sunset meal (7 p.m.) and a minimal breakfast, at 5 a.m., before going to work.

The more substantial meal eaten at lunch then provided the body with a period of semi-starvation of about 14 to 16 hours, barely mitigated by the frugal breakfast.

This Abruzzieating habit is perfectly in line with the latest scientific evidence that has highlighted the importance of concentrating meals throughout the day, but especially limiting calorie intake in the evening, when the metabolism, following circadian rhythms, slows down.’

‘Based on these premises, Abruzzi ‘sdijuno’ is proposed as a peculiar and ante litteram dietary pattern compared to recent fasting diets, capable of explaining, together with environmental, nutritional and genetic factors, Abruzzi longevity,’ explains Professor Serafini. (1)

A quality ‘sdijuno’

The diet of the Abruzzi population between the ages of ninety and one hundred obviously did not include ultra-processed foods. The dietary pattern was very similar to that of the Mediterranean diet, with large consumption of vegetables and grains, and more generally sustainable foods. With some peculiarities:

– Abruzzo’s agri-food biodiversity, which includes vegetables little consumed elsewhere, such as mountain orapi (spinach), chickling vetch, and the extensive use of field grasses,

– the practice of ‘sdijunare,’ precisely, which in Abruzzi dialect means to break the fast of the night.

A model for saving young people

The longevity rate in 150 municipalities in Abruzzo is comparable to or higher than that of the famous Sardinian municipality of Villagrande – the center of Italy’sblue zone – which has the largest number of centenarians. Abruzzo’s longest-lived municipalities are located mainly in inland areas, in four areas contiguous to the Gran Sasso and Majella Parks and Marsica.

Analysis of the metabolic, immune and genetic characteristics, as well as the eating habits and functional value of traditional recipes of Abruzzo’s nonagenarians and centenarians, will provide scientific knowledge useful in developing guidelines aimed at the well-being of the current population. With the hope of bringing back to safety the younger generation, plagued by diseases related to excess calories and junk food consumption.


(1) See press conference introducing the launch of the study .

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Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".