30th December 2016

Longevity

About Longevity in Ikaria

A lot has been said about the longevity of the Ikarians in the last years and especially after the island was declared one of the worlds Blue Zones. Many are those who come to the island to find out more about the secrets of longevity and if possible to take some “Long life elixirs” with them, when they leave again.

 

I’ve also been asked, by simple visitors or journalists, quite a few times, about the herbs that grow here, the honey and wine and the diet of the locals in general. But as much as a balanced diet is a very important thing, I believe it is not the only reason Ikarians live as long as a whole century or even longer.

 

One simple reason is natural choice. Ikarian in the past has been through periods of big poverty and hardship. There wasn’t plenty of food and even for that sometimes people had to go through a lot of effort. In times like that not everyone could survive. Just those with a strong constitution and a flexible and resourceful mind would make it. So those who made it through all that difficulties, are those who are strong enough to get very old and still be healthy and with their mind still crystal clear.

 

Μακροζωία – Longevity

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One more reason that contributes to the fact that locals are still busy and satisfied is that usually they still have at least a vegetable garden and some goats and chicken to look after. Others, like Ioanna the weaver who is now 107 years old, still goes to weave and teach younger people, who are interested in it, the art of weaving. Many elderly people also take care of their grandchildren, when they don’t yet go to school or when they come home after school. As a result of all that, people of a certain age are still useful to themselves, their families and the society and that does not only give them pleasure, but also more years of life.

 

Also the social life of elderly people doesn’t stop either. They still go to the cafés and to visit their neighbors and also join all kind of local festivities. And not only do they meet their friends there, but they also dance till late at night. Where people in big cities at the same age get more and more lonely, elderly Ikarians still have a complete social life.

 

Another consequence of the fact that they are still busy and participate at social life in all its forms, is that they have not much time left to worry about smaller health issues, which means they are not going to the doctors all the time and so they don’t end up eating more medication than food.

 

And because difficulties have always been inseparable to the life of the Ikarians, they tend to have more relaxed life rhythms and not to worry to much about unimportant matters, so that they keep some strengths for when real difficulties come up. And as my beekeeping teacher says as a joke when tourists ask him what time it is: “Time! What’s this? I’m fine when I know, what month it is !”