In the past few years, the Ikarian diet and lifestyle became famous for their health benefits. According to research by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Athens, almost the entire population of Ikaria is free from chronic diseases and dementia, and sexually active well into their late 80s. Another study by the University of Athens states that Ikarian olive oil is more effective than Viagra. Experts examined 670 men with an average age of 67 from the island of Ikaria. They found that consuming nine tablespoons of oil per week, along with plenty of vegetables, fruit, fish, and beans, reduced the risk of erectile dysfunction by 40 percent.
Various aspects contribute to longevity
A natural daily routine, adapted to the rhythm of nature, drinking herbal teas, meeting friends and family, going for a walk and working in the garden have positively influenced longevity.
The diet of the Ikarians is local, seasonal and natural. The Ikarian specialties include: honey, "Hόrta", which are various wild greens that are picked from the hills and prepared as a salad, cooked and dressed with olive oil and lemon juice or wine vinegar. "Manίtes", a local variety of mushrooms. Goat meat, a must for local festivals.
And of course lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, honey, nuts and legumes. Many Ikarians also make their own wine and drink a glass every day. According to various studies, Ikarian wine contains six times more polyphenols (antioxidants) than conventional wine.
The delicious food, the relaxed lifestyle and the great zest for life not only result in remarkable health benefits, but also in an above-average lifespan. The case of Ikaria is particularly interesting, because the Ikarians never intended to consciously prolong their lives through exercise or diet. Longevity is only a by-product of their way of life and their easy-going attitude towards themselves and the world.
By Anna Avramidou
Today we met an elderly gentleman while walking through our village. We started talking and at some point my husband, Niko, asked him about his age. At first he said he was 95 years old. After some calculations (he seemed very clearheaded, no signs of dementia, etc.), he said that he was born in 1921. Okay, so now we were already at 97 years old.
It must be said that age doesn’t play such an important role here. In Greece, name days are more likely to be celebrated.
In his old age, it seems to me that every single wrinkle on his face has a story to tell. And in my opinion, this gives him a particular beauty, which deviates from general beauty standards.
He enjoys telling various stories about life. About the hard times when there was no electricity or running water on Ikaria. Or about the period when the Turks occupied the island. Or about times of war, when the inhabitants of the island danced the Ikariotiko (the dance of the island) together with Italian soldiers.
But I had to smile when Niko asked him about his health and he replied: "Hmmm, actually quite good. But after I turned eighty, sometimes little aches and pains started to make my life harder."
This is exactly what I heard recently in one of my seminars in Germany about turning 50 years old. So, I will stay here, maybe this will postpone such complaints by 30 years for me too!