Wisdom from Centurians on Longevity
Fitness for Boomers
Has the Greek Island of Ikaria found the longevity formulae?.
The Ikaria, Greek Island people’s longevity lifestyle has interesting attributes that can be duplicated within almost any culture to receive the same healthy longevity anti-aging benefits. I say, “Almost any culture” because there are third world countries that simply do not have the resources that Westernized cultures do. Our nation, like other similar cultures have no excuse for many illnesses and disease pain placed upon ourselves because of our unwillingness to change lifestyle habits.
Much of our poor health and fitness levels occur because of our quick fix and results expectations, convenient and plentiful transportation, jet set lifestyle, fast pace society, family and value system(s) breakdown, drug and alcohol addiction, nonorganic-fast food diets, etc. This is a very simple comparison of differences within our two cultures. But by no means is a total list of lifestyle differences to make my point. I recently read an article by Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones: “Lessons for Living Longer” from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest (National Geographic, 08). This article captivated my attention which I thought was important to share with you.
Following is a list of Ikaria’s habitual lifestyle differences from their culture and a testament to their healthy longevity.
This Greek Island culture has 150 wild greens grown in an area that has 10-times the super food anti-oxidant quality found in red wine for example. The Ikaria’s people grow their own gardens and shop at farmers markets. All fruits and vegetables purchased at the local markets are naturally organic. They are also void from chemical pesticides and fertilizers. It is well documented that organic fruits and vegetables are far healthier for your body with greater anti-oxidant properties while promoting-preventing cancer and heart disease. I personally supplement my diet with super food quality vitamins and minerals twice daily.
Olive oil is considered a high quality anti-oxidant and these residents use much extra-virgin oil in their cooking. Extra-virgin oil is the only oil I cook with when I break out the frying pan. My family has been cooking this way for years. Heat does not denaturize (destroy) the healthy anti-oxidant & healthy oleic acid properties of this oil.
Although I don’t drink herbal tea, I prefer coffee (also an anti-oxidant). The Ikaria’s people drink plenty of wild mint, chamomile, or other herbs. Science supports that many teas lower blood pressure which also reduces the probability of heart disease.
In many of my Mirror Athlete web site articles, I promote walking is the key to good health and the best cardiovascular fitness program one could participate for life.
Walking is something I do daily regardless of daily aches and pains. If you suffer chronic pain, you can manage the pain in many cases to allow daily walking “if able.” I also mention this is a key healthy life choice ingredient to maintain weight, healthy-fit body, mind and soul while reducing stress, heal and/or alleviate body pain while living life to the fullest.
The Ikaria lifestyle supports my healthy-fit mind, body and spirit philosophy. If you want to achieve healthy longevity and anti-aging goals, then one should pay attention to the Ikaria’s walking discipline. These people walk everywhere in a mountainous geography
There walking is by necessity, there is very little public transportation, or personal luxury’s such as cars. Every trip is a cardiovascular exercise workout. For example, I drive very little in my local area while I walk with a dual goal in mind. For example, I walk to the video and grocery store. Grocery loads are what I can manage. Usually two bags of equal weight, not more than 3 lbs each for no greater than a 1.5 mile distance. The human physiology is greatly dependent on movement activity to maintain optimum overall mind, body, soul health.
It wasn’t long ago while on a walk with a good friend we were discussing the positive value of sharing activity with others. We both agreed, our physical pain and depressed moods were greatly alleviated. “I can’t stress enough, the importance of socialization through friendships, families and community when the body and mind are mobilized and active.
Social interaction and spiritualism of “any faith” wires our mind, bodies and spirit as God had intended for long healthy happy lifestyle experiences. As illustrated on this island's Greek Orthodox culture, regular social activity and spiritual attendance greatly reduced their likelihood of depression, being overweight and populace mortality as personal interview-surveys conveyed.
I’ve also noted for myself, retirement has produced less stress and tension on my holistic being. I think the similarities of my lifestyle and the Ikaria’s are very similar. I must have lived a previous life on this Greek Island, or at least I feel my lifestyle is very similar and connected to theirs. With the following exception: I have a hard time throwing away the watch, "they care not about fast pace living and time schedules."
Their mindset philosophy is “work will eventually get done so why worry about it.” In other words, they don’t spend countless hours worrying about their employer timelines. This principled work ethic for those that value and practice it apparently reduces stress, which will likely minimize wrinkles and arthritis, risk of heart attack, etc. I think our culture should learn from this example and taking some time for ourselves and family frequently.
Relaxation-meditation from a stressful environment is needed by the mind-body and the Ikarian people do this well. A daily 20-45 minute nap appears to improve disposition and productivity. Daily down time is also known as siesta, or power naps. The mid-day relaxation benefits of naps have been recognized in our culture for many years. For example, many of our large corporations allow the practice of power napping by providing elaxation rooms for their employees.
Other positive healthy habits for the Ikaria’s culture resides within their daily diet. This diet resembles a Mediterranean one rich in whole foods, grain, fruit and fish, vegetable and of course “olive oil.” The main difference between their diet and Mediterranean is they eat more red meat because of the day’s walk journey to fish and potatoes that flourish in this mountainous terrain.
We also know that honey is an excellent anti-oxidant, but it is not proven that our honey is as beneficial as the Greek honey which is consumed on a regular basis. Honey is known to contain anti-cancer, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
The other two key food sources that differ from our diet: The islanders sour dough bread has high counts of complex carbohydrates that appears to be beneficial for those with diabetes by improving glucose metabolism and Type-2 diabetes prevention.
Most Ikaria’s over 90 state they drank goats milk all of their lives and continue to do so. Goat’s milk is rich in Tryptophan which lowers blood pressure, to include antibacterial compounds and depression. Although many of our commercial stores don’t sell goat’s milk, many of our organic stores do. You can also supplement your diet high in amino acid, L-Tryptophan a nutritional supplement. However, you won’t find it sold as a singular amino acid supplement as it once was through 1989. apparently Over consumption of .this amino acid in high concentrations can cause health problems. But supplementing responsibly, or consuming it in a balanced diet is good for us.
If active lifestyle, longevity, anti-aging: mind, body and spirit sustaining health are your goals it is wise to consider the Ikaria culture and incorporate it into this complex Western lifestyle. The scientific studies prove their lifestyle shows a positive correlation that explains why they have more healthy centurions per capita than any other place in the world.