Posted on Sep 24, 2019, 2 p.m.
Blue zones are regions around the globe ranging from the Nicoya Coast of Costa Rica to Sardinia, Italy, over to Loma Linda, California to Okinawa, Japan, and Ikaria, Greece where people appear to live much longer than average, who change what healthy aging can look like.
Ikaria, Greece is a longevity blue zone, the island has a long history to go with the topography from being the target of invasions that forced residents to move inland from the coast which resulted in an isolated culture that is rich in traditions, family values, and longevity.
Centenarians and residents of this island are almost free from the likes of dementia and most of the chronic diseases that readily plague Americans. Here 1 in 3 make it to their 90s, which may be explained by a combination of factors such as diet, culture, lifestyle, outlook, and geography.
Strong red wine and late night domino games are regularly enjoyed here, along with a quiet relaxed pace to life that ignores clocks, while the clean air, warm breezes, and a rugged terrain draws residents to stay outdoors and into an active lifestyle.
It appears as if the Ikarians have discovered how to weave the recipe for longevity into their lifestyle and culture by following common practices that cultivate a largely healthy centenarian lifestyle.
The eldest residents tend to be the pooper citizens who live in the island highlands, where they exercised mindlessly by gardening, doing yard work, visiting neighbors, or walking into town. The lesson here is to make time to include more mindless movement into your life.
Residents here enjoy a variation of the Mediterranean diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, potatoes, and olive oil. The typical centenarian diet here consists of about 17% greens, 20% other vegetables, 16% fruits, 11% legumes, 9% potatoes, 6% olive oil, 6% fish, 5% pasta, 5% meat, 4% sweets, and 1% whole grains.
Herbal tea is enjoyed by Ikarians who enjoy drinking it on a regular basis with friends and family alike. Packing an anti-aging antioxidant punch herbal teas such as oregano/sage/wild rosemary are also diuretics that help to keep blood pressure in check by riding the body of excess sodium and water.
Residents here embrace taking naps and enjoy taking an afternoon break; those who take regular naps have been shown to enjoy a 35% lower chance of dying from heart disease which may be due to napping lowering stress hormones or resting the heart.
Their religious calendar calls for fasting for close to half of the year, caloric fasting typically cuts about 30% of calories from the normal diet; fasting is the only proven way to slow the aging process in mammals.
Residents foster deep, caring and long lasting face to face, personal social connections, this type of relationship has been shown to benefit overall health and longevity. The lesson here is to get outside of the internet and spend more time in the now and present with people in real life personal space.
Rather than cow’s milk Ikarian’s use grass fed goat’s milk which provides potassium and stress relieving tryptophan hormones; as another plus goat’s milk is hypoallergenic and typically can be tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant.
So there we have the typical lifestyle of these blue zone centenarians, perhaps we can all take some pointers from the residents of Ikaria, Greece and become longevity warriors ourselves; eat less overall, stay active, get enough sleep, have a positive attitude, foster healthy relationships, avoid stress, go outside more, and eat more vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.