Gut Check: Making simple sense out of life
By Lenore Skomal Erie Times-News staff blogger
Lenore Skomal is an award-winning author and veteran journalist in all forms of media. She is a weekly columnist and daily blogger for the Erie Times-News. She’s authored 17 published books, including an anthology of her columns, Burnt Toast available on her website www.lenoreskomal.net.   Read more about this blog.
Posted: January 7th, 2013
Secret to long life? Homemade wine

That’s according to those who live on the tiny island of Greece called Ikaria. The average inhabitant of the island of 8,000 is ten years older than the average for the rest of the world. Named after Icarus who, according to Greek mythology, plunged into the sea after flying too close to the sun buoyed by the wax wings he configured, Ikarians attribute their long lives to the wine they make locally, which is devoid of commercial preservatives.

Ikaria has also been studied extensively as one of the “blue zones,” according to an article by the BBC. Blue zones are those areas of the planet that have been identified by author Dan Buettner and National Geographic, where residents enjoy great longevity. Other places include Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, and Loma Linda in California.

Researchers at the University of Athens point to more than just the local wine as contributing factors to the island population’s longevity:

1) Six out of 10 of people aged over 90 are still physically active, compared with about 20 percent elsewhere.

2) Most food is cooked in olive oil, and their diet is rich in fish and vegetables–very little meat and no processed foods.

3) Large quantities of wild greens and herbs are gathered from the hillsides for both food and medicinal purposes.

4) Life is slower, not many of them smoke, and there are many extended families, which give the elderly an important role in society.

But the people still believe the secret to long life is their homemade wine, which they drink in moderation and only with friends, never alone.

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