Ikaria, Greece is about as picturesque as it gets. Crystal blue waters, beautiful beaches at the foot of the mountains, and all the seafood you could ever dream of.
Ikaria isn’t just a picturesque landscape, though. It’s one of the five Blue Zones of the world, which are regions that contain the highest concentrated populations of centenarians (people who live to be 100). In other words, Ikaria is one of the healthiest parts of the world and is home to some of the world’s longest living people.
Even more shocking than just the average lifespan of Ikaria is the fact that on this island, Alzheimer’s disease is almost completely nonexistent!
Alzheimer’s Disease is a common form of dementia that affects most people over the age of 65. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 5.8 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
So how have Ikarians almost entirely avoided this life-threatening illness? According to Blue Zone researchers, it’s a combination of geography, dietary habits, lifestyle and movement, and even your mental outlook on life.
When it comes to their way of eating, Ikarians eat a Mediterranean-style diet. This includes an emphasis on foods like whole grains, vegetables and fruit, olive oil, and legumes. They eat fish and some meat, but it’s on more of a rare occasion.
Those in Ikaria also drink herbal tea on a regular basis, such as oregano, sage, and rosemary. They also eat goat’s milk dairy products instead of cow’s milk, which researchers say contains the hormone tryptophan, which is a known stress-reliever.
Along with their healthy eating habits, people from Ikaria also practice a balanced lifestyle full of community and natural movement.
Blue Zone researchers call it “mimicking mountain living,” which means that the Ikarians live in a way that is centered around mindless movement. This includes things like gardening, doing yard work, and walking to visit their friends.
They also value community and social connection, which researchers believe is another key component in the long lifespans of Ikarians. And lastly, after all their movement, healthy eating, and community, Ikarians always allow themselves to enjoy a nice long nap.