It’s no secret that the Mediterranean diet can help us achieve longevity, but the overall lifestyles of the region’s populace shouldn’t escape our attention. Tucked away in the Aegean Sea is a small, rocky island called Ikaria, where residents on average reach the age of 90. Here are a few island secrets of longevity researchers have picked up after years of studying the dreamy getaway.
1. Drink Herbal Tea
The Ikarians love it. Many teas found on the island are mildly diuretic and help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of dementia. A few diuretic herbs are yarrow, dandelion, stinging nettle, and green tea. The health benefits of green tea are amazing, so this may be your first choice.
2. Take a Nap
Like typical islanders, Ikarians don’t bother getting up—or opening up shop—earlier than they feel like it. Something as simple as an afternoon siesta can reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems including heart attack, and it can help you feel more energized and well-rested in the afternoon.
3. Eat fresh Vegetables
Ikaria boasts over 150 varieties of greens. Much of what the islanders eat, in fact, they grow themselves. As with the typical Mediterranean diet, this means very little meat and sugar and lots of vegetables, beans, and antioxidant-rich extra virgin olive oil.
4. Drink Goat’s Milk
Unlike cow’s milk, goat’s milk is easier to digest and contains tryptophan, an amino acid that reduces stress. Goat cheese also contains vitamin D, although there’s plenty of that from the sunshine on this dreamy island.
5. Walk it Off
When you live in a mountainous region like Ikaria, you walk—uphill—a lot. Besides, the islanders are rarely in a hurry to meet anyone, so when they agree to catch up over tea, they take a long, leisurely stroll to do so.
6. Dip into a Hot Spring
Radium is a nasty word in America, but the Ikarians have sworn by radium-rich hot springs since the 4th century. Reduction in joint pain, stress, and skin irritation are often cited as benefits.
7. Just Dance
Rather than chugging flavorless beer and going broke paying for sugar-laden mix drinks, Ikarians drink and eat in moderation, focusing on letting go of what few cares they have and simply enjoying each other’s company. This leads us to their final piece of advice…
Stress can greatly increase your risk of numerous diseases as well as dangerous behavior. Ask Ikarians what time it is. They probably won’t know—or care. It’s difficult to approach most work days with an Ikarian attitude, but learning basic stress reduction techniques can add years to your life. These can include exercise, meditation, yoga, tapping, or taking a fifteen-minute break to drink a sip of herbal tea. Here’s how to reduce and deal with stress.