The phenomenon of Ikarian longevity has still not been totally explained by the extensive research conducted into the island, yet many experts have ultimately concluded that one of the keys lie in the islanders’ leisurely pace of life, vegetable-heavy diet, communal living style, and drinking wild herbal tisanes.
Ikaria is an island of wild, pristine nature, clean food and a joyful, uplifted, stress-free atmosphere. Today, Ikaria is considered one of the world’s five “Blue Zones” – places where the population regularly lives to an advanced age. National Geographic names Ikaria a Blue Zone as many residents live to over 100 years old while being in good health!
Blue Zone is a concept used to identify a demographic and/or geographic area of the world where people live measurably longer lives. Described in Dan Buettner’s book, “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from people who lived the longest.”
Buettner identifies longevity hotspots in Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and among the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California.
After one research found that 1 in 3 Ikarians live into their 90s, The New York Times dubbed it “the island where people forget to die.” Its rough terrain might make you question how this is so; wouldn’t people have to be quite tough to survive here? To an extent, this is true - the island has maintained relative isolation throughout history, as strong winds protected it from connection to the main shipping lanes. Nonetheless, its reputation as a health destination is centuries old.
The obvious question follows: What unique factors give rise to Ikaria’s fountain of youth? Is there something special in the wine, or a particular quality of its famous thermal springs? Or is the answer something more complex, having to do with social and lifestyle factors? Whatever the underlying reasons, they have resulted in the island’s recent status as one of the world’s Blue Zones.
According to Dan Buettner in his book Blue Zones, Ikaria is a location where people live long and healthy lives because they engage in natural movement, have the right outlook on life, eat properly, and have a solid sense of community and belonging.
It’s certainly true that Ikarians are proud of the balance in their lives: nature, freedom, time and development are all put into perspective. Despite the allure of profits associated with mass tourism, the people of Ikaria have long resisted development. Fiercely maintaining local traditions, their way of life is fulfilling and apparently rewards them with outstanding health benefits.
Harmony with the self, the other, nature and the community. The inhabitants of Ikaria are globally famous for living a long and serene life due to their stress – free everyday life, healthy nutrition, community bonds and their easy going philosophy of living. Nearly one of three Ikarians make it to their 90s.
The people in Ikaria island used to have many lonely hours working in the fields and moving around.That gave them the time to contemplate on life. Meditation is the ideal practice in order to reinvent this life – invigorating habit.
Maybe the most crucial factor of longevity and wellbeing of Ikarian people is their active participation in all community activities. All the generations mingle and mix happily every day. One of the famous occasions of mingling happily are the “panigyria” of Ikaria when the whole village eats, drinks and dances in a Dionysian way.
The famous longevity of the inhabitants of Ikaria is due to their carefree attitude. This attitude is built during their lifetime through openness, communication, solidarity, responsibility and festive spirit!
The Ikarian diet is a plant and fish based diet. The island has more than 150 antioxidant-rich herbs and wild greens due to Ikaria’s acidic soil that helps the plants to develop antioxidant qualities. It is a diet poor in meat and the only meat they consume comes from home-grown chickens and wild goats that are roaming free on the mountains. Additionally fresh fish is an essential part of their diet.
Their diet contains over 150 different antioxidant-rich wild greens, organic fruits and vegetables, unique and rich flavored honey, fresh goat milk and organic herbs. Most Ikarians eat little and walk long distances from one place to another. They laugh and greet you with warmth and sincerity. They will often take you to their homes. One thing most Ikarians will never stop doing is: GIVING.
For breakfast we offer herbal teas from local herbs, Ikarian honey and Greek coffee, which according to many studies, lowers the risk of heart diseases.
Ikaria is full of honeybees, and one of its most well-known products is honey. It’s sold just about everywhere, and makes for the perfect addition to your breakfast. This also may be one of the easiest and only ways to take some fountain of youth effects home from the island of longevity.
Buettner says that there are nine keys to longevity and health:
- Natural movement
- Having a purpose in life
- Not working too hard, slowing down
- Not eating too much
- Eating lots of vegetables, but not too much meat
- Having the occasional glass of good red wine
- Belonging to a community or having a good social network
- Sharing personal beliefs or spirituality
- Making family a priority