Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ikaria, the Island Where People Forget to Die

Nobody actually knows how many islands Greece has. Counts vary from 1200 to 6000. Out of these only 227 are inhabited and 72 have more then 100 people.
Old Woman from Ikaria

The life expectancy in Greece is generally about 20% higher than the world average. On a top including 194 countries, Greece sits nicely on the 18th place. 

Chronic diseases are a rarity in Ikaria. People living in this region have 20% less cancer, half the rate of cardiovascular disease and almost no dementia! People traditionally have farming or fishing jobs and live in a mountainous terrain, which keep them active throughout life. They eat a variation of the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, whole grains, fruit and a little fish. Goat milk and wine are also traditional here and loaded with antioxidants. Time is taken out of their day to nap and connect with friends, reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

A study made on 673 people from Ikaria showed that afternoon nap increases life expectancy with 12%. If take regularly, three times a week, the afternoon nap may increase life expectations with up to 37%.

What are the lessons that researchers learner?
  1. Get your antioxidants! Ikarians eat a variation of the Mediterranean diet, which consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a little fish. One key feature of the Ikarian diet are wild greens, many of which have ten times the level of antioxidants in green tea or red wine!
  2. Drink tea! Regular herbal tea consumption is common of Ikarian centenarians. Many of the teas here act as mild diuretics, prescribed by doctors to lower blood pressure.
  3. Take regular naps. People who nap at least five times a week for half an hour have 35% reduced chance of cardiovascular disease. Stress hormones also decrease when you’re napping.
  4. Make walking part of your daily routine. The hilly land lends itself well to burning calories. The Ikarians exercise without thinking about it just by walking to church or work.
Ikaria on the Map
Ikaria is an island of approximately 256 sq km situated in the North Aegean Sea that has between 8 and 10 thousands inhabitants.

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