Ikaria, a tiny Greek island in the Aegean Sea, is known as a “blue zone,” a special place where life expectancy is much higher than the rest of the world.
In a special video episode, VICE News sends one of their correspondents, Matthew Cassel, to explore exactly what makes this island so special.
“To not be sad, to not get stressed in order to make money, to make whatever. To go drink their wine and to be calm.”
These are the suggestions Cassel receives from 86-year-old Ikarian fisherman Soulis Fradelos, whom he asked about the islanders’ secrets to living a long, happy and healthy life.
When asked how many more years he would continue fishing the Aegean waters, Fradelos simply responded “Only He knows” while pointing up to the sky in reference God.
According to the video report, one in three Ikarians live past the age of 90, compared to one in 20 Americans living in the United States.
Maria Plakas, another Ikarian resident, tells Cassel that the key to her people’s longevity is their diet.
“The most important thing is the food because you live with it,” Plakas says. “You eat the right way, everything works the right way.”
Locally-sourced vegetables, seafood, olive oil — and at least two glasses of wine per meal — are on the local menu practically every day.
VICE’s report also takes a look at the reality of living such a healthy lifestyle, which demands constant effort and daily labor.
“I came and tried [living here] and it was just an experiment in the beginning,” says Athens native Thodoris Kargas, who re-located to Ikaria in search of a simpler life. “Farming and seeing the herbs and what I could do with these things attracted me so much.”
After a year, Kargas says his old life was “already a dream” to which he could no longer return. Now he and his wife Tara are raising their daughter while living off their own garden and producing essential oils which they sell to customers around the world.
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