This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on Thursday, October 12, 2017. Purchase tickets here! Wine Around the World 2017.
What can Greece teach us about aging well?
Greece is aging faster than any other nation in Europe, adding to the difficulties facing the country in resolving its massive economic problems.
Ikaria, a small Greek island, has been dubbed a “blue zone,” one of the few places in the world where people lead healthy, active lives past the age of 100. People on this island are living to 90 almost three times as often as Americans, and are far less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or depression. Their low-stress lifestyles, level of physical activity, and a few other habits unique to their culture could be the secret.
Here are four things the Greeks can teach us about aging well:
- They know how to take a break from the stresses of daily life. As with many countries with hot climates, people in Greece stop midday to take a quick, but restorative nap. Research has found that Greek men who napped just half an hour a day were much less likely to have heart attacks.
- They drink to their health. Boiled Greek coffee is a staple in Ikaria and it’s loaded with polyphenols and antioxidants that protect your body from aging and a variety of chronic diseases. Drinkers of this coffee were found to have improved endothelial function—which protects your blood vessels—compared to those who drank other types of coffee.
- Their diet is heart-healthy: the freshest olive oil, a rainbow of vegetables, tons of lentils and beans, while taking it easy on the meat. This diet has been linked with benefits ranging from a lower risk of heart disease and cancer, to even lessening the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s.
- Family is everything. A welcoming sense of community and family ties are a major part of life in Greece. In Ikaria, a typical evening routine includes visiting neighbors. Studies have not only shown that older people tend to eat worse when they’re alone, but loneliness in later life can lead to poor health and earlier death.