Jan 202013

Instead of a heart healthy diet, this article should be titled “A Whole Body and Mind Healthy Lifestyle.” If you truly are looking for a long, healthy and happy life, you should follow the example of the people who live on the Greek island of Ikaria.

Dan Buettner wrote an excellent article on the lifestyle of these people, and called his story "The Island Where People Forget to Die." He starts by telling the story of a Greek war veteran by the name of Stamatis Moraitis who moved to the US and developed lung cancer in 1976. After being diagnosed with cancer, he decided to move back to Ikaria with his elderly parents, where he could die among family and friends of his youth.

He has never taken chemotherapy or any kind of medical therapy for his cancer. The only thing that he has done is move back to Ikaria and live the lifestyle of this lovely island. Dan finds him in 2012 still alive and well at the age of 97 still living on Ikaria. The only thing that Stamatis knows is that his cancer simply went away.

One of the most important aspects of their lives may not be what they eat, but what they don’t eat. They

  • Eat very little meat. Meat is usually eaten on Sunday. And the meat is typically from grass fed animals. They may also eat wild fish about three times a week.
  • Don’t eat refined sugars. They do eat a local honey.
  • Don’t eat refined, white wheat. They use ground whole wheat for breads.

Their diet consist of a lot of wild greens, fruits from their own gardens, a lot of virgin olive oil, goat milk from goats that eat wild grass, frequently drink a tea made from wild herbs (marjoram, mint, rosemary and sage) and red wine. And their caloric intake is less than the average American. They also eat a lot more beans than the average American.

I almost forgot to mention that they also drink a lot of coffee. What’s interesting about their diet is that most of their food is home grown or wild. They limit their dairy intake, and only consume milk and cheese from grass fed goats.

They do a lot of walking, and spend a lot of time in their gardens. They stay up late and sleep late. And perhaps most importantly, they have close relationships with family and friends, which helps lead to a low stress lifestyle.

We Americans can learn a lot from the people of Ikaria. Unfortunately, our culture and urban lifestyle makes it difficult if not impossible to duplicate the healthy lifestyle of the island of Ikaria. Genesis describes paradise as two people sharing a large garden. In today’s highly populated world, Ikaria may be the closest thing to paradise that any of us can hope to experience.


The New York Times: The Island Where People Forget to Die

Blue Zones: Ikaria, Greece