Ikaria, "The island where people forget to die." That has to pique your interest. I'm only going to expound on one aspect of the article, so read it in its entirety; it is quite fascinating.
|He returned home to Ikaria to die. 35 years ago.|
This unassuming area in Greece has been known for centuries to encourage long life. There are a number of theories, factoring in lifestyle, diet, and mental states, and we can apply those habits to our own lives.
In terms of diet, it is the predictable Mediterranean; olive oil, vegetables, small amounts of goat dairy, rarely meat, moderate amounts of wine, barely any sugar or white flour.
Since the community is very close, and everyone eats the same way, there is the social structure that ensures no one succumbs to bad foods (if they were hypothetically available). For comparison, the article sites Seventh-day Adventists, who share a similar diet.
The healthful plant-based diet that Seventh-day Adventists eat has been associated with an extra decade of life expectancy. It has also been linked to reduced rates of diabetes and heart disease. Adventists’ diet is inspired by the Bible — Genesis 1:29. (“And God said: ‘Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed . . . and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food.’ ”) But again, the key insight might be more about social structure than about the diet itself. While for most people, diets eventually fail, the Adventists eat the way they do for decades. How? Adventists hang out with other Adventists. When you go to an Adventist picnic, there’s no steak grilling on the barbecue; it’s a vegetarian potluck. No one is drinking alcohol or smoking . . . health habits can be as contagious as a cold virus. By his calculation, a Framingham individual’s chances of becoming obese shot up by 57 percent if a friend became obese. Among the Adventists we looked at, it was mostly positive social contagions that were in circulation.
We rarely give enough credit to bad influence; it is embarrassingly easy how one can be talked into casting their eating habits aside when someone whispers devilishly in one's ear. "Oh, just this once," "It's not that bad," "What's one doughnut going to do to you, anyway?"
Next thing one knows, one has fallen off the wagon with an undignified "oof."
The company one keeps is important in many ways, remembering what is said about the chaver ra.
If cornered next to a Viennese table, stay strong, and fight a path to the fruit platter.