It’s a place where people live simply and refuse to keep track of time because, I suppose, time will pass whether they watch it or not.
The more important thing is how you cherish that time.
So rather than watch or worry about time, author Diane Kochilas says they enjoy it by “…drinking wine, enjoying sex, walking, gardening, and socializing…in their modern day Shangri-La”
Are they happy in this simple existence?
“Ikarians are not particularly money-driven…for the most part they live with their children and are taken care of with love and a sense of inclusion…”
They are unaffected by the stress that comes with living a life that is programmed by the clock or a never-ending “to-do” list.
Sounds wonderful, right?
You might be wondering what these seasoned citizens eat that helps them live long and happy lives.
Ikaria is part of the Blue Zone ® which is the term created by Dr. Michel Poulain. Dan Buettner has gone on to write extensively about the subject. The Blue Zone consists of five locations where people seem to live longer than most and experience superior health. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia or other age-related ailments are fewer or non-existent.
Personally, I would be more than happy to pack my bags and take up residence in any of these zones:
- Costa Rica
- Loma Linda, CA (consisting of a group of 7th Day Adventists)
Researchers suspect that the good health and abundance of birthday candles for folks in these areas is a result of how they live, their close relationships, and what they eat.
In Kochilas’ book, she talks about the typical foods gathered and eaten by those who have successfully aged. Not surprising, they eat close to the source and many foods are void of chemical residues found in large commercial farming operations from which our own food is derived. In fact, many Ikarians tend their own gardens. Fresh fruits and vegetables are as close as their own backyards!
Some food and eating habits of the Ikarians include:
- Eat very little processed food. As you know, this keeps the chemicals out and the nutrition in.
- Eat very little..period! No “super-sizing.” Because food was not always plentiful on this little island, abundance and over-indulgence are not common practice. Turns out, emerging research shows health benefits for consuming a little less. (more on that in a minute…)
- Eat only when you are sitting down, relaxing, or in the company of others (in other words…avoid eating at your desk, in your car while driving, or walking through the mall!)
- Breakfast of champions…Goat’s Milk! Loaded with antioxidants and easy to digest. Raw goat’s milk is high in tryptophan which reduces stress hormones and lowers the risk of heart disease. Plus, the goat is in the backyard for easy access. Also, sage tea and bread dipped in wine (also chock full of important antioxidants).
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – a staple for any Mediterranean table. Rich with plant-based Omega 3 fatty acids, we are discovering more and more about the benefit of this inflammation reducing food.
- Wild and foraged foods such as berries, fruits, nuts, and greens as well as fish and game.
- Beans, beans, and more beans! Split peas, broad beans, white beans, fresh beans and more! Fiber and nutrition packed into a tasty little package.
In regards to reducing your daily caloric intake and/or intermittent fasting, research has shown there are health benefits for each.
Reducing your daily calories (about 30% below normal or until you are 80% full) may delay some of the chronic conditions normally associated with aging although there is no evidence this practice will extend your life. These studies have been conducted in the lab and with monkeys (the kind most closely related to humans). Scientists are excited by these results; however, more research is needed to get more answers.
Both intermittent and periodic fasting can increase lifespan, even when there is little or no overall decrease in caloric intake. Turns out the mild stress of lower food intake, reduced glucose, and insulin levels, result in a benefit to your body.
To be clear, this is not about total food deprivation, starvation, or any sort of eating disorder such as anorexia. Those are unhealthy practices for your mind, body and soul!
What this is about is making healthy choices that feed your body and your soul in just the right amounts.
A long healthy life is no accident. It begins with good genes, but it also depends on good habits. If you adopt the right lifestyle, experts say, chances are you may live up to a decade longer. So what’s the formula for success? National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner has lead teams of researchers across the globe to uncover the secrets of Blue Zones—geographic regions where high percentages of centenarians are enjoying remarkably long, full lives.
The recipe for longevity, Buettner has found, is deeply intertwined with community, lifestyle, and spirituality. You won’t find longevity in a bottle of diet pills or with hormone therapy. You’ll find it by embracing a few simple but powerful habits, and by creating the right community around yourself…
Diane Kochilas’ book is filled with small bites of big hospitality. You will delight in the photographs, the stories, the history and the food of the people from Ikaria. The book is worthy for display on your coffee table or in your kitchen. It’s both functional and beautiful. Only here will you learn of common foods such as taro root which you will discover…”It was our umbrella and our drinking cup…” and the ultimate slow food, soufico – silky and unctuous. So much history and goodness are wrapped up in these beautiful pages which is both travel journal, health treasure, and wonderful recipes for your table.
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