Ikaria residents are in the top 5 when it comes to life expectancy. They have almost no cases of dementia, cancer rates are much lower here than anywhere else and heart disease is 50 percent less than in America. How do they do it?
For starters, moving. And we’re not talking about some highly disciplined exercise regimen. It’s a way of life in Ikaria. Their lifestyle naturally includes frequent movement, residents of Ikaria, are always walking everywhere. Walking leads to improved circulation, better digestion, it helps reduce the loss of bone mass, and in Ikaria it helps to keep up with local gossip.
However, this tiny island in Greece has it all figured out with once secret. This is a good news for those who love drinking. Give up drinking? Nope, you’re in luck. Their secret is that they drink locally produced wine with their friends late into the night and take a nap in the afternoons! (Where do I sign up?). Some even drink wine at breakfast! The daily average consumption is two to four glasses per day.
On the other side, while some are talking about using robots to replace human labour, residents of Ikaria continue to do a lot of work manually not relying on machines, fixing things around the house, gardening and cooking for themselves and friends. These activities help boost mood and give seniors a sense of fulfilment and pride.
Being active in the community is a huge factor as well, Ikarians have a great sense of community, they visit their friend’s houses, go for coffee, have a glass of wine and eat together. Ikarians do not feel burdened by their age, quite the contrary. The ageing process is embraced, elders are revered, respected and celebrated. Elders hold an important part in society and they are central to every family.
Ikarians diets are also a big factor to their health. Their diets include locally sourced vegetables, fish and seafood. Goat’s milk, goat’s yoghurt, local honey, lots of olive oil and lots of beans (almost 5 times more than the average Americans consume). They keep their meat consumption minimal, only approximately 5 times per month.
The Ikarians’ religious practice might also contribute to their long life expectancy. Studies have been done and attending religious services is proven to increase your lifespan, and even more so if you go more than once a week. The logic behind it? Attending service helps give you a purpose, social support, and stress management. Prayer and devotion also help attain a sense of inner peace and transcendence. Greek Orthodox also practise religious fasting frequently.