By Vijoy Alexander
There is a place where death is afraid to visit very often. One in 3 makes over 90. Enjoy the life, that is their motto. They have the lowest rates of Cancer and dementia. Heart diseases, depression are not common while physically active into their old age. On an average the people here in this wonderful island live 10 years longer than in Europe and America.
I am talking about a small island in Greece called Ikaria. According to mythology, the island is named after Icarus, the young man in Greek mythology who flew too close to the sun using wax wings and plunged into the sea, close to Ikaria. According to Wikipedia “It is one of the middle islands of the northern Aegean, 255.303 square kilometres (98.573 sq mi) in area with 102 miles (164 kilometres) of coastline and a population of 8,312 inhabitants. The topography is a contrast between verdant slopes and barren steep rocks. The island is mountainous for the most part. It is traversed by the Aetheras range, whose highest summit is 1,037 metres (3,402 feet). Most of its villages are nestled in the plains near the coast, with some in the mountains.” The island is about 30 miles away from Turkish Coast. There are direct flights from Athens to Ikaria though both sea and road transport are also convenient.
WHY LONG LIFE?
Many has studied the reason for this long life of Ikarians. One of the studies by Dr. Christina Chrysohoou, a member of Ikaria studies under University of Athens and a cardiologist at the university found that the Ikarian diet featured a lot of beans and not much meat or refined sugar. The locals also feast on locally grown and wild greens, some of which contain 10 times more antioxidants than are found in red wine, as well as potatoes and goat’s milk. The Ikarians drink a lot of herb tea and small quantities of coffee; daily calorie consumption is not high. The island especially the villages are not affected by the westernised way of living. Dr. Chrysohoou says the Ikarian habit of taking afternoon naps may reduce the risk of heart disease by almost 40%.
Chrysohoou’s preliminary studies revealed that 80% of Ikarian males between the ages of 65 and 100 were still having sex. And, of those, a quarter did so with “good duration” and “achievement”. “We found that most males between 65 and 88 reported sexual activity, but after the age of 90, very few continued to have sex.”
Many in medical science believe that only 25% of your longevity is determined by your genetics. They think the other 75% comes down to how and where you live.
According to a local resident “We keep the old people with us. There is an old people’s home, but the only people there are those who have lost all their family. It would shame us to put an old person in a home. That’s the reason for longevity. “To have your family around you makes you feel stronger and more secure.”