(CNN) – It’s a place of terraced lemon orchards, ironically warm mountain breezes, and a powerful fat-killing gene carried around by a lucky few residents.
Limone sul Garda, a picturesque fishing village located on the shores of Lake Garda in the northern Lombardy region of Italy, is an unusual destination with a population of just over 1,000.
It is the northernmost spot in the entire world where lemons grow naturally and has an exceptionally mild climate, considering its location at the feet of the Alps.
This combination of factors may have led to the village’s claims of a secret “elixir” for a healthy, long life.
Many locals seem blessed with great digestive capacities that allow them to pack cream-filled buns and fatty deli meats without worrying about an expanding waistline or heart problems.
These inhabitants have what they call the “lemon gene”, which contains a special protein that destroys fats and maintains blood fluid.
The Segala family is the “superhuman” that carries the gene.
For 40 years, the residents of Limone sul Garda have been under scientific surveillance, with villagers testing the genes carrying the genes as lab mice.
Of the population of 1,000, half were born and raised in Limone. Of those 500, 60 have the gene.
“The gene runs in my family,” shop owner Gianni Segala says, joking that the villagers use “blood bags” for the scientists.
“My brothers and I, my mother – who is 96 and still very bright – and all of my children carry it.
“Since the 1980s, we donate our blood for frequent tests, and they almost bled completely,” he adds sarcastically.
He remembers the first time doctors swallowed a sugary dose of whipped cream every two hours to monitor his blood.
“They took my blood after every bite, it was so sweet and greasy, I felt nauseous, but even though I ate a lot of it, my blood destroyed the fat instantly without absorbing it. By nightfall, I almost passed out. [due to blood loss],” He says.
However, while people like Segala may never have to worry about clogged veins and blood clots, he says he leads a very normal life and is “not Superman.”
Cesare Certori, professor of clinical pharmacology at the Università degli Studi di Milano, led the team that first identified what the locals of Lemon called the “elixir” protein, and named it A-1 Milano. He says the people at Lemon have exceptionally low levels of HDL cholesterol (in the 7-15 range when it’s usually 40-60) which appears to be the result of a genetic mutation within the protein carrier.
“Low HDL cholesterol – because it is labeled ‘good'” cholesterol – is bad for you and leads to heart problems such as potential strokes, but in these locals it has the opposite positive effect, he says.
“And although 99% of the protein’s genetic mutations lead to disease and disease, these mutations determined the absence of vascular disease in carriers.” Sertori is now studying Lemonade to see how it can boost the fight against atherosclerosis.
It was discovered that the dominant gene in lemons is present in the DNA of five-year-olds, young adults and the elderly alike.
“Freedom to eat whatever I want”
Limone is a small fishing village on Lake Garda.
George Grewell/Stone RV/Getty Images
The gene was first identified in the blood of a lemon train driver, one of Segala’s ancestors, who had an accident in Milan (hence the name A-1 Milano protein) and was taken to hospital. The doctors who treated him were baffled by his amazing blood results, and they embarked on a large-scale screening campaign in the village.
“I was just a kid when my blood was first tested, and the doctors would come in regularly to monitor our gene behavior,” says Giuliano Segala, son of Gianni.
“The truth that I hold [the gene] It gives me some kind of life insurance – I feel more healthy and confident that I won’t have clogged arteries or die of a heart attack when I get old.”
Although he sometimes feels like a guinea pig, Giuliano, skinny and fit, happily admits he indulges in cured meats including mortadella, salami and even lard — just like his grandmother, who takes care of herself and cooks for the whole family. The younger Sigalas inherited the gene from her.
“I’ve never had a stomach ache and eat what I feel like. I love it Cotolet (Fried and fried veal cutlets), fried foods, salami, I also love drinking. “I sleep like a baby,” says Giuliano. But just because he’s a carrier of this wonderful gene doesn’t mean he always eats too much. He also sports regularly, hiking with his father in the mountaintops to enjoy the stunning views of nearby Lake Garda.
Sartori still hopes to analyze what happens if two pregnant women give birth to a baby. Until now, the carrier’s father or mother has been the carrier of the gene.
A powerful combination of factors
The lush site of Limon has attracted tourists for centuries.
Sertori says that this genetic mutation and the health benefits associated with it are unique to lemons and cannot be found even in nearby villages. However, he is not interested in looking for the reason for this.
But others. Antonio Girardi, a local hotelier who traced the entire family tree to Jane Lemon’s transition to the 18th century, believes the surroundings, climate, and natural products play a major role.
“This climate can be warm year-round – we don’t have snow or ice, which is why lemons in this northern region have been growing here for centuries,” he says.
“Or maybe it’s thanks to the exceptional virgin olive oil from which we’ve all been weaned, and the freshest lake fish we eat.”
Since the Renaissance, wealthy families have flocked to Limone’s beaches for vacations, breathing the sweet alpine air mixed with citrus scents, and taking advantage of the climate.
Girardi keeps a phone book with contacts of all carriers of the 60-something gene. Other residents are divided between those born in Limone and those from neighboring towns or abroad, seduced by the heavenly atmosphere and tranquil atmosphere of Limone’s labyrinth of cobbled alleys, lanes, and whitewashed dwellings.
In the past, villagers were either hunters or loggers in the mountains transporting timber on donkeys to sell to ships in the harbor. Today they all work in the tourism sector, which attracts huge amounts of money.
Families stroll along the picturesque harbor and tourists visit the Fishing Museum. Relaxed beaches attract sunbathers and sailing enthusiasts in the summer while hikers explore the high, jagged cliffs looming over the lake.
“These mountains act as natural shields that protect us from cold winds and catch sunlight, keeping temperatures consistently warm,” says Girardi.
“We must thank this very pleasant and exceptional microclimate that endowed our people with such a natural elixir.”
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