Today we’re taking a look at the final Blue Zone from the book written by Dan Buettner. I have enjoyed reading this book so much. The people that live to over 100 years old have so much personality.
In this final Blue Zone the author starts with the story of a man who immigrated to the United States after World War II as many other Greeks did at the time. Stamatis Moraitis came seeking treatment for his hand that had been damaged in a munitions accident and decided to stay in America. He ended up in Florida with a job painting houses for a living. In his 60’s he went to the doctor because he began to fatigue more than usual and was diagnosed with lung cancer. The doctors gave him six to nine months to live. Since funerals in America cost $1,200 at the time, but funerals in Ikaria, where his parents still lived, costs $200.00, he decided to go with his wife, to live with his parents until he died. That decision would leave more money for his wife and family after his death. (pp. 227-228)
At first he was bed ridden while his mother and wife took care of him. His friends from the area came to visit and bring wine. He began to feel stronger and was able to get up. He began to work in the garden and the family vineyard. Years passed. He built on to his parents small house so his children could visit. The author says, “Today, 35 years later (the book copyright is 2008), he is 100 years old and cancer-free.” He never had any chemotherapy or other treatments specific to cancer. (p.229)
Later in the chapter Dan Buettner records that he called Stamatis to get some facts straight about his health history. He asked the question, “Did he ever figure out exactly how he recovered from lung cancer?” Stamatis replies, “It just went away, I actually went back to America about ten years after moving here to see if the doctors could explain it to me…. My doctors were all dead.” (p.258)
What an amazing story to show what food choices and lifestyle can do to change our bodies and heal us. What an amazing thought to think of all God has given us for health if we would just use it.
“Ikaria lies about 30 miles off the western coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea.” (pp. 231-232) In it’s early day’s the people moved into the mountainous areas to escape the Pirates that plagued them. The area is known for its clean air and water. (p.232)
The people here sleep late and stay up late. In that way they differ from the other Blue Zones who rise early. They do not keep appointments well. One doctor never opens his office until 11:00 a.m. because no one comes. They don’t wear watches and no clocks work correctly in the area. If you invite someone to lunch, they may came anytime between 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. (pp. 234-235)
Their diet consists of a version of the Mediterranean diet: “a menu rich in olive oil and vegetables, low in dairy and meat, with some alcohol daily…. it also includes an abundance of potatoes…, goat milk, beans, and some fruit.” (p.235) They eat many of the greens that grow wild in Greece, either as salads or baked in pies. They love fresh fish but eat very little of it. They drink teas made from wild marjoram, sage, mint, olive tree leaf, rosemary, and dandelion leaves with a little lemon. And they love honey, using it for treating wounds, curing hangovers, and treating flu. The older people take a spoonful at the beginning of each day like a medicine. (pp. 236-237)
In the village of Raches the author met 20 people over the age of 90. One was 104. Among this group was a 95-year-old man who still played the violin and “a 98-year-old woman who ran a small hotel and still played poker for money on the weekend.” (p.237)
If you want to adapt a lifestyle like these people you need to “wake late, work in the garden, have a late lunch, take a nap.” (p.239) In the evening you would visit with neighbors, drink tea or wine, eat a late dinner, and go to bed. Your breakfast would consist of “goat’s milk, condensed wine, sage tea or coffee, and honey and bread. Lunch [would be] beans (lentils, garbanzos), greens (fennel, dandelion, or a spinach-like green called horta),” seasonal vegetables, and you would finish the day with a dinner of bread and goat’s milk. (p.239) Meat is mainly reserved for festivals. (p.239)
About those naps: “a study by the University of Athens Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who took naps had lower coronary mortality than those who didn’t. The researchers defined ‘regular’ naps as the kind that took place at least three times a week for about 30 minutes.” (p.238)
As for the Mediterranean diet, “it differs from country to country, but olive oil, fruits, vegetables, legumes, some fish and wine comprise the building blocks.” (p.241)
As I end this study of the five Blue Zones I would like to finish with one of my favorite thoughts from the book. An Ikaria study found that these people drink up to six cups of coffee a day. (p.249) Here is what the author says, ” [coffee] is now associated with lower rates of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease for some, and heart disease. Dr. Oz once told me that, for most Americans, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants.” (p. 250) (I love me some coffee.🥰)
It was also noted that when eating sourdough bread with a meal, it reduced the rise in blood sugar after the meal. And potatoes is a staple for this area although they are frowned upon in the United States. Here they are thought to provide heart-healthy potassium, vitamin B6, and fiber. (p.250)
One last note if you are trying to get healthy. “The cheapest, most accessible foods are also the healthiest. (p.255)
I hope you have enjoyed looking at the Blue Zones over the last few weeks and have gained some information that will help you improve your health. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to improve your health and live a longer, happier life.
Please comment below if you have adapted a new habit from a Blue Zone.
See you next week!