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5 Blue Zone Healthy Lifestyle Secrets…

Tips for a longer life from those in the know!

journals

5 Blue Zone Healthy Lifestyle Secrets…

Tips for a longer life from those in the know!

5 Blue Zone Healthy Lifestyle Secrets… | DonalSkehan.com, Tips for a longer life from those in the know!
Monday, January 11, 2016
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Whether you’re looking for a healthier diet or calm, more thoughtful living, learning lessons from people who live in the world’s unique blue zones can only be a good thing!

Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to stay on the Greek island of Ikaria.  This small island close to Turkey is one of the five blue zone areas of the world which includes Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, Loma Linda, California, and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. These zones have been identified as having the highest concentration of centenarians in the world where residents are said to live longer, healthier and happier lives than the rest of the world. The Ikarians are proud people and during my stay I was treated to these five key elements that many attribute to their longevity.

 

Whether you’re looking for a healthier diet or calm, more thoughtful living, learning lessons from people who live in the world’s unique blue zones can only be a good thing!

Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to stay on the Greek island of Ikaria.  This small island close to Turkey is one of the five blue zone areas of the world which includes Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, Loma Linda, California, and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. These zones have been identified as having the highest concentration of centenarians in the world where residents are said to live longer, healthier and happier lives than the rest of the world. The Ikarians are proud people and during my stay I was treated to these five key elements that many attribute to their longevity.

 

1. Keeping Active

As you might imagine the sleepy island of Ikaria is not overrun with gleaming fitness centres boasting weight loss and filled with old age pensioners pumping iron. Instead the Ikarian’s version of keeping active is based around mountain living, simple regular movement such as walking, taking care of household chores, tending to their garden (every true Ikarian has a vegetable garden!), and gentle exercise based around purpose. One centenarian I met, Athena (pictured below), still grows her own vegetables, picks the olives from the trees in her garden and proudly showed me her home where she lives with her family.

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1. Keeping Active

As you might imagine the sleepy island of Ikaria is not overrun with gleaming fitness centres boasting weight loss and filled with old age pensioners pumping iron. Instead the Ikarian’s version of keeping active is based around mountain living, simple regular movement such as walking, taking care of household chores, tending to their garden (every true Ikarian has a vegetable garden!), and gentle exercise based around purpose. One centenarian I met, Athena (pictured below), still grows her own vegetables, picks the olives from the trees in her garden and proudly showed me her home where she lives with her family.

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2. Mainly Vegetarian Diet

Souflaki and giro are some of the dishes you might think of when it comes to Greek cuisine but on the island of Ikaria, many of the residents eat a primarily vegetarian diet with lots of homegrown fruit and vegetables. During my visit, we stayed with proud Ikarian’s, George and Eleni who run a B&B from their vineyard high in the mountains. Eleni is fantastic cook and I was surprised by just how little she relied on meat in her cooking and instead used ingredients grown in the garden to create clever, filling and healthy meals. Breakfast was eggs pan fried in olive oil served with homemade sour dough bread, tahini sweetened with a condensed grape syrup and a large tea pot filled with fresh herbs steeped in boiling water. Lunch was fresh salads and dinner was a feast of stuffed peppers with rice baked off in a wood fired oven, dessert, a sugar free grape jelly with yoghurt, sesame seeds and grape syrup. Lighter, cleaner, inspiring eating with barely any meat or refined sugar.

2. Mainly Vegetarian Diet

Souflaki and giro are some of the dishes you might think of when it comes to Greek cuisine but on the island of Ikaria, many of the residents eat a primarily vegetarian diet with lots of homegrown fruit and vegetables. During my visit, we stayed with proud Ikarian’s, George and Eleni who run a B&B from their vineyard high in the mountains. Eleni is fantastic cook and I was surprised by just how little she relied on meat in her cooking and instead used ingredients grown in the garden to create clever, filling and healthy meals. Breakfast was eggs pan fried in olive oil served with homemade sour dough bread, tahini sweetened with a condensed grape syrup and a large tea pot filled with fresh herbs steeped in boiling water. Lunch was fresh salads and dinner was a feast of stuffed peppers with rice baked off in a wood fired oven, dessert, a sugar free grape jelly with yoghurt, sesame seeds and grape syrup. Lighter, cleaner, inspiring eating with barely any meat or refined sugar.

3. Positivity & Beliefs

Many Ikarian’s are devoutly faithful to religion and it’s thought that this faith in a higher being contributes to a longer life.  While belief alone is key to many Ikarians, positivity also plays a big part to their healthy mindset.

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3. Positivity & Beliefs

Many Ikarian’s are devoutly faithful to religion and it’s thought that this faith in a higher being contributes to a longer life.  While belief alone is key to many Ikarians, positivity also plays a big part to their healthy mindset.

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4. Family

Family is important to Ikarians. One thing that was easy to notice was just how involved older residents of Ikaria were in not only their immediate family, where they play an active role in day to day life, but also in the wider community.  Older members of the community are celebrated and this spirit of taking care of others and ensuring they aren’t alone is said to play a big role in the longevity of the islanders.

4. Family

Family is important to Ikarians. One thing that was easy to notice was just how involved older residents of Ikaria were in not only their immediate family, where they play an active role in day to day life, but also in the wider community.  Older members of the community are celebrated and this spirit of taking care of others and ensuring they aren’t alone is said to play a big role in the longevity of the islanders.

5. Stress Free Mindset

George our guide proudly refused to wear a watch and quite happily let things happen, when they happened.  Not only did he manage to stay free of worry and stress but he faced each challenge with smile on his face.  It might sound all too perfect, but having a stress free mindset is a key contributing factor to our health and well being and definitely one of the main lessons I learnt in Ikaria.

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5. Stress Free Mindset

George our guide proudly refused to wear a watch and quite happily let things happen, when they happened.  Not only did he manage to stay free of worry and stress but he faced each challenge with smile on his face.  It might sound all too perfect, but having a stress free mindset is a key contributing factor to our health and well being and definitely one of the main lessons I learnt in Ikaria.

Check out my time on the picturesque island of Ikaria and the fun I had with the locals below and check out Follow Donal on Food Network

Check out my time on the picturesque island of Ikaria and the fun I had with the locals below and check out Follow Donal on Food Network

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  • Knara Bagdasarova

    Wonderful film on Ikaria, great to see those places again. We visited it last year, stayed mostly in Lefkada right next to the hot springs, and later stayed with George n Eleni in Pigi. Totally beautiful and untouched! We enjoyed Eleni’s cooking just as much! If I could describe Ikaria in one word I probably use the word “freshness”. Can’t wait to show your video to my kids, they will love it, especially seeing Rhea, Giorgos’ dog.

    • http://www.donalskehan.com/ Donal Skehan

      No way! Such a beautiful place! Can’t wait to go back!