Blue Zones are geographic areas where people live longer, healthier and happier lives. They've been the focus of a number of studies in the past few years, and the evidence is compelling. There are a number of factors when combined seem to lead to the longevity of the residents of these areas.
This week we're having a look at the island of Ikaria in Greece.
An island in the Agean Sea, Ikaria has been identified as a Blue Zone. Here's the curious thing about Ikaria. It has the highest proportion of population who reach the age of 90 - in the world. Nearly 1 in 3 people in Ikara live to be 90 or older. It's not just that they reach this grand old age, it's the incidence of disease (or rather the lack there of) which has brought these people to the attention of researchers.
Ikarians are 80% less likely to suffer from dementia, 50% less heart disease, and 20% less incidences of cancer than anywhere else in the world. That's quite astounding. So what is it about living on the island of Ikaria that brings about these health results?
Ikarians have very strong social and familial connections. Much of their day-to-day life revolves around community and family. They also have a diet that provides many of natures wonders.
Bone Broth: The Ikarians consume generous amounts of goat broth before their panigiris
(local festival that can attract up to 2000 people). Broth is consumed to line the stomach,
allowing people to spend longer at the festival eating, drinking and dancing with their friends and family. Whilst goat is the feast animal of Ikaria, you may choose broth of cow, chicken, fish and so on. Animal broths are known to help protect joints, improve gut health and immune system function, aid in detoxification and skin maintenance, and improve your metabolism.
Coffee: Like many longevity cultures, coffee is a staple in the diet. Greek coffee is served black, and it typically has a foam top (the more foam the better!). Research results on coffee intake has shown longer lifespans, reduced risk of heart disease, some cancer, liver disease and diabetes.
Rosemary: When not drinking Greek coffee with breakfast in Ikaria, many enjoy the
local rosemary tea. Some researchers believe this herb is the reason why the Ikarians live longer. This tea is shown to improve digestion, cognitive function, prevent cancer, improve skin conditions, reduce inflammation (and ease the pain associated with it), reduce anxiety, improve liver function and boost hair health.
Vitamin D: There is no public transport in Ikaria, and cars are seen as optional rather than a
necessity. So Ikarians walk a lot, consequently, they get bucket-loads of vitamin D. You don’t need to live on a Greek island to get adequate vitamin D; you just need to spend time outdoors, and supplement where necessary. Vitamin D3 helps all major functions of the body, notably immune function, bone and teeth health and provides resistance against major disease. Always remember to be sunsmart though!
Olive Oil: Most, if not all Ikarian families grow their own grapes and olives. Olive oil is best
consumed from close to the source and always buy olive oil in dark bottles (or tins). The benefits are again in line with the reduced dementia, heart disease and cancer stats on Ikaria. Olive oil is proven to reduce inflammation, may help to prevent strokes, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, plus is a great anti-bacterial agent. Do as the Ikarians do, and drizzle a generous amount of this “superfood” on breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We now have in stock bulk ORGANIC Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Coolmunda Olives near Inglewood!
Probiotics in Wine: Ikarians take great pride in consuming high-quality, home-grown and harvested wine. Ikarian wine has no artificial preservatives, is full of antioxidants and up to 11 probiotic strains and is enjoyed on a daily basis. Whilst many health professionals are wary to advocate alcohol for health, there is a strong body of evidence to suggest the social and responsible consumption of good quality red wine creates a healthy and life-giving response in the body.
Next newsletter we're going to have a look at Sardinia in Italy, another region identified as a Blue Zone.