"The Island Where People Forget to Die"

by: Jomel Bajar, PT,DPT,MS

The Island Where People forget to Die is the tagline of IKARIA, Greece. Statistics certainly supports their claim to fame, after all, both Ikarian men and women reach 90 years of life expectancy. They boast 50% less depression, dementia, and cardiovascular diseases compared to other Greek counterparts.

Is it their diet? The Ikarian diet is almost completely compose of unprocessed foods and limited sugar consumption as compared to other nations. They eat plenty of wild caught fish and local, organic fruit, and vegetables. They also limit the amount of meat they eat and make use of plenty of healthy olive oil. A sample of a typical Ikarian breakfast is yogurt made with goat’s milk, a few cups of coffee or herbal tea and some healthy whole grain bread with locally produced organic honey and it is not uncommon to witness the islanders taking a few glasses of wine for breakfast. Apart from eating significantly less sugar and processed food, Ikarians also eat lots of legumes and beans. They consume more fish than beef and pork. In addition, the majority of Ikarians are keen gardeners who produce plenty of their own fresh vegetables and uses herbs such as mint, dandelion, and rosemary to make teas and other drinks. These herbal drinks contain antioxidants and other medicinal properties such as diuretics and anti-inflammatory properties. Their philosophy is to have a little bit of everything, a balance life, and everything should be in moderation. They used what they call 80/20 rule; 80% of the time, they consume plant based that are in season and they know where the food came from. When it comes to the food of the blue-zones, they do eat meat; they are not vegetarians. Ikarians eat meat about the size of a deck of cards, and the main subsistence of their main diet is plant-based. They believe in the importance of growing your own food, they believe that foods that are well-well raised are not hurting the planet and should be good for you. Is it their mindset? Visitors to Ikaria and sociologist that have visited them have a common observation regarding their life perspective. Ikarians are known for their hospitality to visitors and for those people in need. They make visitors feel welcomed, cared-for and make you a part of the Ikarian way of life. They respect the time allotted for their own benefit. They can be busy working and still enjoying it. They are spending time to relax and do nothing without feeling guilty about it.