The Ikarians – an example of people who live longer


How long do they live?

Ikaria, an island in the South Eastern Aegean Sea (sometimes referred to as “Longevity Island” or “The Island where people forget to die”), is home to a small, mainly rural population, who, according to a study conducted by the University of Athens Medical School, are said to outlive Europeans, Americans and basically most people on this planet. It is claimed that they on average live to be 90; and that the men are almost 4 times as likely as American men to reach 90 years of age.


Dietary practices

They eat lots of homegrown green vegetables, olive oil, tomatoes, and beans; but very little meat – their main source of protein being fish (which they maintain protects the kidneys). They generally abstain from consuming saturated fats such as dairy products, fatty meats, and coconut oil – but do enjoy goat’s milk and cheese


Exercise and lifestyles

As agriculture is their main activity, as part of their routine they often had to walk along dirt roads for lengthy distances, in order to reach their fields. So movement is an integral part of their daily lives. And the University of Athens Medical School has found that this moderate physical activity, has amongst the elderly (older than 80 years old) reduced their risk from cardiovascular diseases by 54%; and seems also to have virtually eliminated dementia and old age depression rates, preventing the elderly community from becoming isolated and helpless. They work hard, stay up late, sleep late, and regularly indulge in ‘afternoon naps.’ Few people wear watches! The island is well known for its herbs, some of which are as follows: Majoram for the stomach; Dandelion cleanses the liver; curbs blood pressure, and is a natural diuretic; and Sage keeps blood sugar levels low. Mint is an excellent anti-oxidant; improves digestion and helps protect against allergies and colds – and Rosemary stimulates the immune system and improves circulation. Many of the islanders also start each day with a teaspoon of honey, – either swallowed like medicine or spread on whole-grain bread.              



There are thermal springs on the island, with water temperatures averaging approximately 45° Celsius.

Their use has been recorded since the 1st century B.C. and some credit their longevity to the high Radon content (which is strange since Radon is suspected of contributing to an increased risk of lung cancer). They are renowned for both working hard and taking it easy … and always seem too focused on living life to the full; in a joyful and relaxed manner – perhaps this is their secret to a longer life?

Article By Henry Spencer