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Searching for longevity on Ikaria

22 April 2009 / 15:04:45  GRReporter
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The citizens of Ikaria island are leading such relaxing lives that this makes them centenarians! In Europe, the percentage of people living for over 90 years is 0.1% of the population and in Ikaria this percentage is 1%! This island is one of the four regions worldwide with such high percentage of longevity, together with Sardinia, Kanawa, Japan and Costa Rica.

Five years ago a research was started among citizens of the EU, which aims to understand the genetic and environmental factors, which lead to a longer life. The Greek team from the National Research Institute (NRI) surprisingly found out that Ikaria has a record number of citizens over 90. Mr. Stathis Gonos, from the NRI, says that this important finding will help unveil the secrets of longevity.

As a result of this research, researchers from all over the world showed great interest in the island. Few days ago, a team of 15 people – experts and journalists from Greece, USA, Belgium and Italy, arrived at the island in order to research this phenomenon. On this occasion National Geographic started making a documentary, which should be out soon and some of the findings were even shown on CNN.

The experts will interview the older people of the island, in order to try and find out their daily habits. The Greek experts Mr. Gonos shares that it is likely to find some genetic factors for longevity, because the citizens of the island are geographically isolated but it is certain that the experts will take into consideration their way of life and the environment. Based on the research, 75% of the men in Ikaria, who have an average age of 95, continue with their farm work and 70% of them are still sexually active.

It is very realistic to expect that every four children, born in the EU will live up to 100. This can be owed to the advance in medicine, which managed to fight off many diseases and to the healthy eating habits – mostly the Mediterranean diet. The keys to longevity are considered to be eating fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oil, and wheat products and regular walks and lack of stress.

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