For centuries, man has searched for the “fountain of youth,” the secret to living a healthy and long life. But it seems that on the tiny Greek island of Ikaria, longevity is quite common and, quite frankly, a way of life. They rarely get sick, rarely contract cancers or diseases, and almost always live to the age of 90 and above. Their secret, according to author and part-time resident of the island Diane Kochilas, lies in living simply and in the moment.
In her new cookbook Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die, Kochilas offers insight as to how these native Ikarians have managed to live such long, healthy and fruitful lives.
In an article published by Huffington Post, Kochilas dishes on six secrets to Ikarian longevity.
Secret #1: Eat locally and sparingly
Many of the island’s residents ages 80 and above recall a life of poverty in which there was often limited supply of food, particularly meat. They ate sparingly because there was not much to eat, and they ate whatever nature could provide, whether it was from the garden, from the sea or found in the wild. Even today, processed food is rarely eaten, except in some restaurants.
Secret #2: Walk, walk, walk
The simple exercise of walking is as good for the body as it is for the mind. In other words, keep the body moving, not sedentary!
Secret #3: Get plenty of sleep
Islanders on Ikaria sleep often and for long periods. Not only does the body need rest, but naps allow you to live two days in one, Kochilas says. And you feel more energized, too!
Secret #4: Don’t rush life, and pay no mind to time
The pace of life on Ikaria is slow, deliberate and unhurried, allowing people the chance to enjoy the moment. Even going to the store in Ikaria involves a 20-minute chat and time to relax. Ikarians do not abide by a clock; there is no such thing as being late. It’s all about living in the moment. And when you live in the moment, you are more aware and at one with your body, in a more meditative state.
Secret #5: Let things go
Ikaria natives are naturally laid back, stress-free and forgiving, thanks to their way of life. As the Greeks say, “Don’t hold the bad in,” Kochilas says. Life is about being happy, and these islanders know how to enjoy it with dancing, social gatherings and celebration.
Secret #6: Allow nature to take its course in healing the body
When it comes to minor ailments, Ikaria residents turn to herbal treatment. But for the most part, they let their bodies heal on their own time, not with mainstream pharmaceuticals and high-tech treatments.