People here forget to die soon.
In the area where you stay, there would hardly be any person above 90 years of age. But if I tell you that there is a place where one thirds of the residents are above ninety years of age, you would be surprised. Most of you will not even believe me. But this is a fact; an island in Greece named Ikaria has a third of residents above ninety years of age.
We will try to study the reasons for longevity of their lives;
Ikaria has been known to be inhabited since 7000 BC, where Neolithic pre-Hellenic people stayed. Today it has around 8500 residents who live in 3 municipalities: Agios Kirykos, Evdilos and Raches. Its residents are well known for their devotion, respect for nature, love of good wine, food,music and dancing.
The name of the island derives from Greek mythology as it is named after Icarus, son of Daedalus. Icarus is said to have fallen into the sea nearby Ikaria as he didn’t pay attention to his father’s warning not to get too close to the sun, and the wax on his wings melted.
Many people say Ikarians forget to die. It has been named one of the healthiest places on earth. There are more healthy people over 90 years of age than anywhere else in the world. This longevity of life has become a topic of discussion around the world.
International scientists are now strongly interested to learn, what it takes Ikarians to touch 90 and even 100 years of age and still stay healthy. Additionally the prevalence of chronic heart related ailments and cancer is less here.
Ageing related issues like dementia and depression is also considerably less; due to which one in three person crosses the age of 90 and even stays healthy.
Ikaria is part of the “Blue Zones” a name given to five places in this world- Ikaria, Sardinia of Italy, Nicoya of Costa Rica, Loma Linda of California and Okinawa of Japan where residents can expect to reach a life over 90 years of age
Experts say a healthy diet and an active lifestyle is a key factor for a longer life. Medical professionals note the importance of close family ties. Ikarians make every effort to stay closely connected to their families and neighbors, with the elders playing a significant part in community building. They often say “Do not want more than what you really need. If you envy others it would be a cause of stress.”
Many people who visit Ikaria realize that the place does not use the normal concept of time, as exists everywhere in the fast paced modern world. People have their own pace of life. A shop owner may wake up at 12 noon and open his shop at 3 PM. Their mentality is that it’s their shop and their life. There is no need to live a life bound by stress.
If you do things that makes you happy as well as others happy, how can you not feel good or healthy? Some other people open their shop at midnight and stay open till dawn.
The slow and moderate development of tourism has caused a slight shift in this area and essential services like pharmacies open around 10 AM. But unlike Athens, Ikarians are not completely dependent on tourism or the rich visitors. The people greet you with a warm and genuine smile when you walk past them.
In this place people are mostly engaged as farmers, shepherds, fishermen craftsmen and shop owners.
The households grow their own supply of organic fruits, vegetables and herbs. Youth are engaged in harvesting the land and attending to the cattle. Compared to a place like Athens where people spend more time in front of internet; the people here earn their living more in a traditional and hard way. A small part of population is engaged in tourism.
The people mostly consume green and natural products like fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and potatoes. Diet is mostly Mediterranean — cooked in low cholesterol olive oil that helps in lowering mono saturated fats. Food items having refined sugar or meat is not highly consumed here.
People prefer goat milk instead of cow milk as it has stress relieving hormone and contains potassium.
They have a bend towards herbal teas as these have antioxidant properties which can help them to stay healthy for a long time. Ikareans like to enjoy tea with their family and friends. Sage or Rosemary tea consumed here works as diuretic helping in lowering blood pressure by maintaining a proper balance of water and sodium.
A small nap in the noon makes all the difference. People of Ikaria like to enjoy an afternoon break. Studies have demonstrated that people who take a nap regularly can have a 35 percent lower risk of heart ailment. An afternoon nap helps to rest the heart and improves upon stress hormones.
Ikarians are people with a rich history and have endured enough hardships down the ages. They are down to earth, independent, hospitable, industrious and humorous. In the past they were conquered by many empires; but have managed to keep their customs and cultures alive.
The place is famous for its tradition of Panagiria or festivals. The island is well known for hosting two to four events every week between May and October. The Panagiria is held in most parts of Greece to celebrate major religious holiday, but is held in Ikaria very gratuitously for the sake of gathering communities and visitors.
There is all night dancing and feasting on grilled goat, green salads and red wine. The proceeds go to the village church or in improving the village infrastructure.
Ikarians are known for their hospitality to visitors. In olden days when there were no network of roads and people used to move from island to island, it was very time consuming. The people here were always hospitable and opened their doors to visitors, offering them food, drink and a place to sleep.
Visitors are impressed by the beauty of Ikaria. It is blessed with rugged landscapes, waterfalls, and a plethora of rivers, gorges, cool turquoise waters and a sunset that blends the sea into the sky. If you plan to visit Ikaria there are many activities you can carry out:-
· You get an insight to the Ikarian way of life. It is another way of life. People don’t lock their doors; don’t set time for appointment. It could be in the afternoon or even in the evening.Food is healthy and people eat well. Wine is poured without counting glasses.
· Take surfing lesson. The most popular beach for surfing is Messakti beach and the surfing season lasts from end May to the end of September.
· Go to a beach. There are many beautiful beaches like Seychelles beach,Nas, Messakti, Kambos, Fles , Karame. The beaches are really beautiful.
· Hiking activity is also recommended. There is a network of path leading from coast to coast through the mountains.
· You can visit a family run vineyard and taste local wine just gazing into the stars and the sky.
· One of the top things to do in Ikaria is to visit a spa town called Therma , known for its healing thermal waters. Visitors enter this water as it helps in dealing with arthritis, rheumatism and other disorders and other people just enter water to relax.
· The best thing to do in Ikaria is to attend a Panagiri, which is an annual community event organized by the local Church. It is a real fun;a huge party and is a Greek brand. You will get to socialize with people from the island, eat good food and can just dance your time away.
There are many things we can learn from the people of Ikaria for living a long and fulfilling life. The daily exercise and manual work, a good Mediterranean diet, midday rest, sexual activity even among the older people, strong family ties and a relaxed way of life free from stress are the factors that contribute towards a long life.
A Coffee Shop dedicated to benefit Humanity.
People can have coffee and discuss Mental health issues.