An article appeared in the New York Times last month titled, The Island Where People Forget to Die. It describes how on the Greek island of Ikaria the islanders tend to live exceptionally long, healthy lives.
Ikarian men are 4 times as likely as average Americans to reach the age of 90. They are 4 times less likely to suffer dementia in old age. And they manage this without good access to modern healthcare.
The New York Times article is lengthy, and since time is running out for all of us, I decided to summarise it as a list of 20 rules for living longer.
The first 10 rules are easy to follow:
1. Wake up late. Don’t own an alarm clock. In fact, don’t own a watch or pay any attention to time.
2. Take a nap after lunch, or whenever you feel tired.
3. Don’t worry about money. Don’t worry about anything.
4. Drink lots of tea, especially home-made tea with herbs like sage, marjoram, mint and rosemary. This contains lots of polyphenols and diuretics (plus occasional spiders).
5. Visit your friends often. Don’t wait to be invited. Eat and drink with friends.
6. Eat a spoonful of local honey every day.
7. Own a garden and grow your own food.
8. Drink 3 glasses of home-made wine every day. Sing and dance. Smash some plates.
9. When you’re not drinking wine or tea, drink coffee.
10. Have plenty of sex.
But you also have to remember these rules:
11. Only have sex with your wife.
12. Live with your parents until you’re 30. Then invite them to come and live with you.
13. Work hard in the garden every day, tending your vegetables.
14. Walk everywhere.
15. Don’t watch TV. Don’t own a TV, or a computer or a phone.
16. Eat mostly fruit and vegetables (especially greens), olive oil and bread; also some fish and goat’s milk.
17. Hardly ever eat meat, cheese or eggs. Don’t eat processed food or sugar. Never eat anything that says, “New, improved recipe!”
18. Keep a goat (see 16).
19. Go to church every Sunday and fast before feast days.
20. Don’t retire. Keep working all your life.
Of course, these rules are not guaranteed to work. You might spend your entire life eating cabbages and going to church and still get ill. There are no certainties in life. Some of the rules may not be practical unless you live on a sunny Greek island.
But despite all that, I think there are some lessons to be learned here. I’m just off to have a nap now, before tending to my goat.