The Secret of Ikaria

Ikaria, Greece, [is] a 99-square-mile island 30 miles off the coast of Turkey… [T]he island has 10 times as many siblings over the age of 90 compared with any other place in Europe…Ikarians also have less cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression and dementia than other parts of Europe, and men outlive women.

In addition to eating a healthy Mediterranean diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, healthy fats and fish and seafood), there are other key habits and values embraced by the Ikaria inhabitants.

Dan Buettner, author of Blue Zones: Nine Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, has seen those same habits in the other four Blue Zones: Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Loma Linda, Calif.; and Okinawa, Japan.

Janice Lloyd from USA Today.

Comments (10)

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  1. Cindy says:

    I saw this somewhere! When you read about these peoples lives, it’s incredible — they basically subsistence farm, eat every meal with neighbors, have a strong social network … it’s fascinating.

    I would be interested to visit and see firsthand.

  2. Alex says:

    This is really interesting, but I doubt that many people outside of these places would see a huge benefit from adopting the same diet. There are lumberjack colonies in the far reaches of Scandanavia with diets of almost entirely meat and fat and they have very long lifespans. Genetics plays a big role in it.

    Besides the diet part I think the rest of it is great!

  3. Paul says:

    “7. Have faith. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter, but attending faith-based services (4 times a month) does.”

    Theists: 1
    Atheists: 0

  4. Robert says:

    Less stress, more relaxation combined with diet and activity.

  5. Robert says:

    I recall another article but cannot locate it…it showed the correlation between amount of work hours in the week, number of vacation days per year, and life expectancy.

  6. Luciana says:

    This is the third time this week I hear about how much better off people living in islands are. Not just because of their lifestyle, which not only keeps them healthy but happy too! but also because of how peaceful they are, away from all the nonesense that overtakes most major urban areas.

  7. seyyed says:

    it seems like the life there is much more relaxed and communal which helps examplin why people are happier and healthier

  8. Buster says:

    I read about this in the New York Times magazine article “The Island Where People Forget to Die.” One factor that nobody seems to emphasize is that part of the secret to longevity is the ability to exaggerate your age! In the initial anecdote, an Greek imigrant man went home to Greece to die after being diagnosed with lung cancer. He sort of went about his daily routine and never succumbed (despite having no medical care). Yet, the author later admitted he had heard the identical story from another Greek living there. Also, when people entered their 70s, they seems to add an extra year to their age every other year. Pretty soon people claim to be 100 when they are actually closer to 90. But it’s hard to dispute without a birth certificate.

    The population admits they drink a lot of homemade wine. They eat a diet typical of a poor, subsistence farming population. Something else the article emphasized is these people all seem to sleep late, don’t worry about deadlines (or goals) and take a nap in the afternoon before hanging out and drinking with friends. Basically, the glow enough to eat, make homemade wine, don’t worry about accumulating anything, and sleep 12 hours a day. When I was in high school, my mother warned me against indulging in such a lifestyle – claiming if I didn’t change my ways I’d end up a worthless bum.

  9. August says:

    “We have 110 evidence-based strategies that have measurable impact on life.” More scientific proof! The next step really is implementation.

  10. Peterson says:

    “8. Power of love. 
Put families first, including committing to a partner and keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby.”

    – Happy people live long lives!