Author: Rositsa Tashkova, Master of Molecular Biology and Microbiology

Island of Icaria

The small Greek island of Ikaria is one of the "blue zones" in the world - the places with the most long-lived people. Here, every third person lives to be over 90 years old and in good health. In comparison, in the United States only 1 in 20 is so long-lived.

There are only five blue zones worldwide: Ikaria, Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, Nicoya in Costa Rica and Loma Linda in California, USA, whose inhabitants exceed the usual life expectancy and reach the age of 90.

It makes sense for everyone to ask themselves how come - what is the secret to these people'slongevity? Is it in quiet life, climate, food or genes?

Indeed, the inhabitants of the island grow or capture from the sea their own food, each household produces their own homemade wine, live unencumbered by the urban noise and stress. Even the centenarians in Ikaria enjoy good health and a good spirit. People say they forget to die because their life is so good.

Not everyone would want to live like the Ikarians - some tourists, as if they happened to get there, complain that there was nothing to do, that the roads were not wide and comfortable. Perhaps in these "shortcomings" lies part of the secret...

 

How Do The Ikarians Live

The inhabitants of the island of Ikaria lead a healthy lifestyle without effort. By cultivating their land, they keep themselves in good physical shape. The terrain is mountainous, which makes walking an excellent way for daily training.

centenarians from Icaria

In the afternoon, they indulge in a short rest or a nap, which is a proven healthy practice for good heart health.

Ikarians are optimistic about life, stress is minimized, as well as anxiety. Connections in family and society are strong and healthy, which creates a sense of security and support. They are friendly and hospitable.

Residents of the island rarely use medicines, and their diet is of the Mediterranean type - fresh fish, honey, olive oil, olives, mountain tea, Greek coffee, fruits and vegetables, which are grown without pesticides.

Each family produces their own red wine - to which great importance is given - it is present at both lunch and dinner. In the video below when the 80-year-old fisherman is asked what longevity advice he would give people, part of his answer is: "Drink your wine." :)

 

Ikarians' Eating Habits

Families who have animals - hens, rabbits, pigs, goats, sheep, slaughter one or two animals a year and eat the meat rarely - on holidays, which makes the meat enough for the family for a whole year. [ref.1]

They eat mainly seasonal foods and do not have industrial breeding of animals and plants. Everyone knows how they raised their own food.

The Icarians consume little meat. But fish is an important part of their menu. Other sources of protein are lentils, chickpeas and black-eyed pea. Wild green leafy plants (horta vrasta) are often present on their table.

Breakfast consists of goat yogurt or milk, cheese, fruits, herbal tea, coffee, honey. For lunch - potatoes or beans salad, richly flavored with olive oil, a dish of vegetables, fresh fish and red wine. Meat is consumed only 5 times a month.

Breakfast and lunch are late, a nap follows, a light dinner consisting of wholegrain bread, vegetables, olives and wine, and the day ends at midnight.

Mediterranean diet

 

Foods And Herbs Ikarians Use

Here are foods, herbs and spices that prevail in the diet of the inhabitants of the island of Ikaria:

  • Olive oil - rich in antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids, for better health of the cardiovascular system;
  • Raw goat's milk and cheese;
  • Homemade red wine - rich in antioxidants;
  • Vegetables and legumes, such as lentils;
  • Garlic - has antibacterial action, lowers blood pressure and countless other health benefits;
  • Small fruits and nuts - rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants;
  • Fish - an indispensable source of omega-3 fatty acids that protect the heart and lower triglycerides in the blood;
  • Wholegrain bread - fiber is extremely important for a good balance in the intestinal microflora, flour has retained its nutritional value more when not too processed, and wholegrain bread does not lead to an unhealthy and sharp increase in blood sugar;
  • Pure honey - known for its numerous benefits for good health;
  • Mint to soothe the intestines and against colds;
  • Chamomile for insomnia;
  • Sage;
  • Dandelion;
  • Rosemary;
  • Wormwood.

Icaria

 

Whether the longevity of the Ikarian inhabitants is due to their physically active life, food, relationships or their optimistic way of thinking, there is certainly much to learn from them and apply it in our daily lives in order to get at least a little closer to the health of centenarians from the small Greek island of happiness.

 

References:

  1. Ikarian Food - Healthy Diet, island-ikaria.com

 

The author:

👩 🔬 Rositsa Tashkova-Kacharova has a Bachelor degree in Molecular Biology and a Master's degree in Microbiology and Microbiological Control. She completed her Master's thesis at the University of Nantes, France. At that time she painted a Christmas tree of bacteria and inspired the announcement of the first competition for drawing with microorganisms Agar Art. For 3 years she was the editor of the journal Bulgarian Science and continues to write about science and medicine.