Ikaria: The magical Greek island of youth where life is sweet...and very long!
The inhabitants of the Greek island of Ikaria live significantly longer than people anywhere else and here's the secret to the pristine island's everlasting youth!
The Greek island of Ikaria, named after Icarus from Greek mythology whose wax wings melted when he flew too close to the sun is home to people who live much longer than the average human being. Ikaria is every nature lover's paradise with lush trails leading to quaint villages nestled in a picturesque maze of mountains, untamed in agriculture, and crystal clear aquamarine waters.
This island is characterized by its spirit of adding life to years rather years to life. The lengthy and healthy life of the magical island's inhabitants is attributed to the perfect balance of a stress-free lifestyle, regular exercise, adequate exposure to sunlight, and a well maintained healthy Mediterranean diet.
Ikarians live a long, healthy, and fulfilling life, one that has never known a day of illness. They all live up to well over 90 and 100 and they all die a natural death.
Ikaria is one of the healthiest islands in the world. Much to everyone's wonder, Ikaria is but one of the five Blue Zones in the world, the others being the Italian island of Sardinia, Okinawa in Japan, Loma Linda in California, and Costa Rica's remote - the Nicoya Peninsula.
Blue Zone is a term that was coined by Dr. Michel Poulain. It is a concept that describes the lifestyles and environments that are typical of the world's longest-lived people.
One may have more than just a couple of good reasons to visit Ikaria. Definitely not for someone who's looking for a fancy getaway but for someone in search of a treasure trove full of breathtaking natural beauty, good food, and outlandish beats that you can move your feet to throughout the day and well into the night.
IKARIA'S THRIVING CULTURE AND CELEBRATIONS
The two things Ikaria is infamous for is the longevity of its lively inhabitants and its rave-like panigyria festivals. These festivals go on throughout the day, celebrating local patron saints, attracting thousands of travelers from lands far away. Wine flows free, delicious herb-roasted potatoes and marinated goat makes its rounds as dancers from around the world lock their arms and bodies in a graceful dance for hours to end.
Ikaria is a traditional island with many non-traditional elements. One can expect to see women being treated equally over here and social relationships mean everything to locals. The locals do enjoy a wild party but the prime objective of these festivals is to use the proceeds to build and mend roads, buildings, churches, and schools.
THE PEOPLE OF IKARIA
The people of Ikaria share a strong bond with one another. They are kind, loving people with genuine concern for the welfare of others on the island. They all live a simple life but in many ways, it is a much richer life. Meal times are not just a time to eat but a time to bond over numerous tales with shared laughter over a hearty meal.
Everyone - young and old practices a healthy lifestyle that helps them lead a self-sufficient and well-disciplined life. They are content with what little they have may it be just a garden around the back of their house. Despite being warm and welcoming, they feel no need to turn the island into a tourist attraction. Money and fame is not a part of their books.
Ikarians are far from wealthy. The island still faces the Greek economic crisis where 40% of its inhabitants remain unemployed. Nearly everyone manages their own affair, growing their own food and producing their own wine.
THE FOOD AND WINE
The Ikarian cuisine is best described as authentic, organic, and seasonal delicious food straight out of your backyard. While goat meat, milk, and cheese are the island's stale diet, Ikarians eat a lot of legumes, potatoes, and wild greens; additionally, they also indulge in coffee and herbal tea. They refrain from pasta and grains, favoring fruits and veggies instead. They don't eat sweets but resort to the local tea with honey to satisfy their sweet tooth. The several health benefits people of Ikaria enjoy stems from their well-maintained Mediterranean diet. The people prefer goat's milk over dairy products and all in all lead a very organic diet.
Ikaria is the birthplace of Dionysos, the god of wine. There are three wineries producing quality wine on the island. One may be quite surprised to know the amount of wine the people here indulge in; a meal is not complete without a toast and shared laughter. Every household's dining table bears a jug of homemade red wine. The wineries are all situated in picturesque spots, offering a beautiful and relaxing tour of wine tasting.
IKARIA'S NATURAL VARIETY IN ABUNDANCE
Ikaria is a rich landscape that hides mysterious and priceless treasures. As mentioned earlier, Ikaria is a nature lover's paradise, and with good reason. The island lacks a complete sense of time and radiates a peaceful aura. With escapades through lush green trails and verdant mountain slopes that drown into the big blue sea, the vibes of the island do indeed showcase its unique philosophy for life.
Exploring the island is an adventure in itself with authentic festivities, tropical sceneries, seaside villages perched upon rocks, and exceptionally breathtaking aquamarine waters. Time on the island never stops as no one ever started counting in the first place. Just some of the reasons to fall in love with this magical island of everlasting youth. Ikaria is also an amazing spot for birdwatching with the Peregrine Falcon, Bonelli’s eagle, and the Sea Raven, among many other species. The island is more importantly popular for its aesthetic allure.
IKARIA'S ANCIENT THERAPEUTIC SPRINGS
A dip into Ikaria's radion rich, mineral hot springs - since ancient times will cure one of all their worries. These relaxing curative springs are an important factor related to the island's well-being. There are a total of eight hot springs in the island, all radioactive but entirely safe. The curative properties of the water help treat ailments like rheumatic, skin, gynecological, respiratory and neurological illnesses. In Therma, the hot water spring flows into the sea while near Therma, people can explore the ruins of the city underwater.
Today, secrets to the Ikarian youth have been uncovered. The island has been the subject of a number of scientific studies. What is it that allows the people of Ikaria to live longer than the average human and what is it that makes this island special? Read on and uncover the secrets that have helped Ikarians lead a fulfilling life as they have woven the recipe of longevity into their culture and lifestyle.
The six secrets to living a long and healthy life in Ikaria:
1. Eat locally and sparingly
Ikarian's eating habits stem from not so much in terms of what they ate but of how little they ate, having lived for years in dire poverty, dearth, and isolation. Having meat was a rare indulgence; for some as rare as two or three times a year. For people who had animals in their shelters, they could afford to slaughter the animals for food. Fish is available but only if you go find your bait yourself.
The older people at Ikaria ate what they could find in their natural surroundings, from snails to mushrooms, to wild greens, and also whatever they grew in their garden. There was and still is virtually no processed food items on the island. Well, except for certain restaurants. After all, what's on your plate will determine your fate!
2. Don't rush. Take things slow and live along the way
The pace at which the people of Ikaria move is one that stands to amaze generations. They live a deliberately slow and unhurried life but somehow gather enough time to observe and relish in the moments they spend doing something they are truly passionate about.
It is sort of like meditation. The slow pace helps Ikarians to feel their bodies from its roots and understand if there may be something wrong. It takes a great deal of presence and understanding the now to reach where Ikarians are now in a spiritual sense.
The whole idea of taking things slow comes from Ikarians' sense of time, rather their lack of it. They don't work around the clock. In fact, they don't follow it at all. The mentality is one such that it's okay to be late. I think this is one of the prime reasons why Ikarians live a long life. Time for them is not a minute or an hour. It's more like living and doing anything at any moment they wish.
3. Enjoy your sleep
Ikarians nap for most of the day, a sound sleep for over 10 hours even with the sunlight pouring into their room. It's a godsend. It's not sure whether this is because of the island's atmosphere or the clean air, but living on the island means you'll be getting enough sleep to power you through the day!
The folks of Ikaria nap in the afternoons and doing so allows you to live each day twice. Especially during the summers. Anyway, there is no such thing as too much of sleep that is bad for you!
4. Let things go!
The Greeks live by the words - Don't hold the bad in! There is just so much truth and wisdom in that. About how often we tend to forget the things we are blessed with only to lament on about that we don't have. Ikarians are easygoing and forgiving and they are much less stressed out in life. Their rave festival The Panygyria is a perfect occasion to witness their true way of living - drinking, dancing, and letting go of all your inhibitions.
Dancing has a lot to do with letting yourself go and feel the free bird that you are, so does the wine!
You'd be surprised to know that something as simple as walking around can do your body a great deal. It's an exercise for the mind, body, and soul alike. Every older person on the island enjoys a stroll or two through the island's green wilderness and safe to say, it helps!
Longevity can be influenced by genetics as well as by lifestyle and nutrition. If eternal youth is what you seek then welcome to the island of longevity.