Greece Longevity Secrets
A remote Greek Island reveals the secrets to living longer. It is amazing that one-third of the population of a mountainous, 99-square-mile island in Greece called Ikaria, are 90 years of age and older.
In contrast, current U.S. Census stats indicate that only one in nine baby boomers will reach 90.
Investigations into the remarkable longevity of these Greek islanders have proven very interesting. Not only do they live longer, but they have 20 percent less cases of cancer than Americans and about half the rate of heart disease as well as one-ninth the rate of diabetes. They have virtually no Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
A Greek immigrant to the United States from Ikaria was given only a few months to live after having been diagnoses with abdominal cancer in Pennsylvania. He left his job as a bridge painter and returned to his native island to die. Thirty-nine years later, Yiannis Karimalis had outlived all the doctors who had predicted his death.
What do they have that the states don’t? Most of the villages on this small island are inland, high up on the rocky slopes. There are radioactive hot springs there which are believed to relieve pain and to cure skin ailments and joint problems.
A team interviewed several hundred-year-old Ikarians to determine what they had eaten most of their lives. It was found that besides diet, their lifestyle also played an important part in their longevity.
There are more than 150 varieties of will greens that grow on Ikaria. It was determined that some of them have more than ten times the level of antioxidants in red wine. They love to sip herbalteas like wild mint, chamomile daily.
Ikarians do not worry about time. They get things done on their own time. Because of this, they have much less stress and do not suffer as much from arthritis or other stress related problems. They also rest when they are tired. Most Ikarian villagers take afternoon naps. It has been proven that a regular half hour nap decreases the risk of heart disease.
Because of their mountain terrain, Ikarians walk most of the time, so they get quite a workout when they travel to a neighboring village. They also develop strong social connections, which is proven to lower depression, weight and mortality. Their diet is high in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, olive oil and fish. They eat very little red meat.
Honey from Ikaria contains anticancer, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and is eaten often. Ikarians consume more olive oil that most of the world. After their foodis cooked, they drizzle a bit more oil on it before it is consumed. This restores the oil's healthful properties that heating destroys.
Perhaps another secret is their baked sourdough bread which is high in complex carbohydrates which may stave off diabetes and improve glucose metabolism. They eat fruits and vegetables fresh from their gardens.
Instead of drinking cows milk, the people of Ikaria drink goat’s milk most of their lives. This milk is rich in antibacterial compounds as well as a blood-pressure lowering hormone called tryptophan.
Most Ikarian residents are religious and they attend church services, another issue that has been linked to longer life spans.
If there is a fountain of youth, it looks like it may be in Greece. We have much to gain from learning more about these interesting people of Ikaria.
© 2009 Elayne