The Island Where People Forget To Die

The Island Where People Forget To Die
We tend to have a disconnect when it comes to our body. We tend to think that putting food in our mouths and getting some sleep is good enough. And, when things go wrong we tend to blame it on something or anything other than our bad habits. We didn’t take care of taking care of ourselves. So, things go wrong and give us trouble. No mystery there.

To be vital and experience well being we have to pay our dues; we have to pay our sweat equity. There is no treatment or pill alone that will make you wholly and truly well. You have to work at it; you have to live in accord with the laws of nature and those laws are not negotiable. Your health is not random; it is the outcome of the laws of cause and effect – the sum of your genetics and environment.

What Works

We all have to practice self care if we want to be healthy – healthcare is not enough. And, we all need a strategy for taking care of ourselves that doesn’t make our lives too complicated or take too much time.  We need a strategy that isn’t weird, flaky, faddish, or extreme. That strategy has substance and track record. Where to look?

Look to groups of people that have traditionally done exceptionally well by the measures of long life, freedom from chronic illness (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, etc.), and ability to live freely and independently throughout life.

The lifestyles of these groups of people are traditional and the positive results of their lifestyle have been proven over many generations. Extensive research has established the benefits of their lifestyle and the effects of many of their lifestyle components – diet, exrcise, stress management, etc. An exemplary group meeting this criteria lives on the tiny Greek island, Ikaria, off the coast of Turkey.

Ikaria: The Island Where People Forget to Die*

Stamatis Moraitis enjoying his vineyard on Ikaria.

Stamatis Moraitis enjoying his vineyard on Ikaria.

Mr. Moraitis, his family, the people of Ikaria, and all the people who live in “Blue Zones” represent a living laboratory of long-term experiments in lifestyles that create health and long-life. To recreate their results, we need to recreate their habits and their environments. They are the proof of the benefits of the way they live.

There are common themes when looking at these populations and we can do well by emulating them through our lifestyle. Some things that stand out about the Ikarians are slower pace of their lives along with lots of sleep and the daily moderate exercise they get through walking everywhere they go on the island and working in their gardens.

Fresh, (mostly) organic, and unrefined foods are the mainstays of their mostly (not exclusively) plant based diet. They benefit from the polyphenols and other nutrients from their herb teas, coffee, wine, olive oil, and honey. They also have very robust, daily interactions with friends and family in their tightly knit community.

And, yes, Ikarians love their wine!

*I highly recommend reading a New York Times article titled The Island Where People Forget To Die. It was written by Dan Buettner, author of Blue Zones, a wonderful book cataloguing populations and the lifestyle habits of people around the world who are exceptionally healthy and long-lived.

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