Saturday, January 26, 2013

Long Lived Icarians!

Ikaria is the name of a Greek island located in the Aegean Sea. This island is approximately ten miles southwest of Samos, the populace is known as Icarians, or Ikarian Greeks. Ethnically speaking, they are Greek with Pelasgian and Carian ancestry. The people of this small island are best known for their life longevity (although statistics are difficult to compile as birth certificates are not the norm).

The data we do have indicates that the people of Ikaria are reaching the age of 90 almost three times as often as Americans. Ikarian men are also four times as likely to reach 90 years old than their American counterparts. Both sexes have been recorded to live at least eight to ten years longer than most Americans.

What is it about the Ikarian lifestyle that has allowed the people to live for so much longer? The first thing to look at is their clean, simple lifestyle.

For example, the Ikarian diet consists of a very low intake of saturated fats from meats and oils. This results in an extremely low risk of heart disease. Their produce is grown without pesticides, their meat without hormones, and processed foods are nearly non-existent.

FUN FACT: On a clear day, you can see notorious party island Mykonos from the shores of Ikaria

Unprocessed (‘raw’) foods appear in nature with the positive enzymes needed for digestion. They also consume a lot of unheated olive oil, which has been proven to reduce bad cholesterol. Everyone on the island drinks goat’s milk, which is very easy on the digestive system (especially in the elderly) and contains serotonin-boosting tryptophan. 

Transportation in Ikaria still involves a great deal of walking and bicycling, and minimal industry ensures air and water free of pollutants. Another contributing factor to their longevity might be their thermal hot springs – considered the most health beneficial in Europe.

Although on paper the Icarian lifestyle doesn’t sound too bad, after a week or two of vacation, many of us begin to crave the amenities of ‘modern life’. You have to ask yourself though... Do the health benefits outweigh the perks of our streamlined lives? For those of us whose lives are entrenched in modern society, regular exercise, careful attention to our food sources, and detoxification are as close as we are going to get.

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