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M. IkariaArticles: Ikaria: The island of long life!

Ikaria, the island of long life!

We know Ikaria like a beautiful Greek island of the East Aegean Sea. It’s famous for its nature, its beaches and the lifestyle reminding us of another era. In the last few years, though, Ikaria has been in the centre of international interest for another reason. Gerontologists, scientists who mainly study the process of aging, have placed their latest studies in the so-called “Blue Zones”, the regions of the planet where the highest percentages of people living close to their hundred years are found. One of the five Blue Zones internationally is indeed in Ikaria!

The interest for Ikaria began to increase when some statistical data from the European program Geha which researches the genes of long life occurred. The National Research Institution has found that there are many inhabitants of Ikaria who are over 90 years old. Since then, Greek and foreign researchers have begun to arrive to Ikaria to examine closely those seniors and their habits. The first thing they observed was that while in the rest of Europe only 0.1% of the population live over 90 years, in Ikaria this percentage is ten times higher. It is also impressive that the old Ikarians maintain an excellent health in spite of their old age.

Do it like the Ikarians!

So what’s making these people almost ancient? The answer is a little of everything. First of all, their diet includes great amounts of fish, fruit, vegetables, legumes and tea. They also use olive oil every day in their food, they don’t drink a lot of coffee and they rest every day after lunchtime. Their daily routine also includes physical exercise. Research has shown that 85% of participants have mentioned a medium physical activity including walking and agricultural errands, which improve the body weight and reduce the possibility of heart disease. In Ikaria, solidarity among families and society have been preserved through time, which could be another factor for their long life, since researches have shown that seniors over 65 years are three times more likely to die when they live alone. Finally, Ikarians seem to enjoy life, which apparently helps it last longer. Actually, the depression rates were almost inexistent in comparison with other senior populations, while Ikarians themselves say that words like stress and anxiety are almost unknown to them.


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