Apparently the secret to longevity is not as complex as most people might think. With all our effort and research to understand the secrets of longevity, Ikarians might look pretty simplistic to us ­­­­— if not to say primitive. But they sure are healthy and live long lives.

According to an article published in the New York Times the Greek inhabitants of Ikaria:

  • reach the age of 90 at 2½ times the rate Americans do (for men alone it’s even 4 times)
  • suffer only about a quarter the rate of dementia
  • live 10 years longer than Americans before contracting cancer or cardiovascular disease
  • suffer much less from depression

Their Apparent Secret:

  • Plenty of rest and relaxation. Time is not exactly important and Ikarians nap regularly
  • Caring about the community and having a great social network & structure
  • Emphasizing spirituality, belonging, and purpose in life
  • Eating a simple but distinctive Mediterranean diet including local herbs/greens, plenty of legumes, wine, olive oil, honey, and other locally produced food; meat is eaten five times per month and fish 2 times per week; eating is always a social event
  • A cultural attitude that celebrates the elderly and keeps them engaged in the community
  • Living a stress-free live
  • Walking every day


In 1943 the Ikarian Stamatis Moraitis emigrated to America. In 1976, after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and given 6 months to live, he moved back to his home island Ikaria to die. 38 years later he is still alive enjoying stellar health without ever having taken any medications or radiation for his cancer. He is 99 years old and apparently ‘just forgot to die’.


In my opinion the simple happiness and contentment the people of Ikaria are experiencing in their daily life is as important as their distinctive diet. People on the neighboring island Samos live no longer than the average Greeks. Although only 8 miles away Samos is much more developed and people experience more stress, less community, and contentment.