Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Haiku 050509

dad's flannel shirt
the plaid glass façade
of blue sky


NPR: “The Island Where People Live Longer

“Making it to 90 years old is awe-inspiring in much of the world. But on a tiny Greek island in the North Aegean Sea, nonagenarians barely merit a second glance. The island of Icaria could be the newest of the world's so-called blue zones — places where residents have unusually long life spans.

“Dan Buettner has crossed the globe many times over the years in search of blue zones, and he recently teamed up with AARP and National Geographic to study Icaria….They found Icaria had the highest percentage of 90-year-olds anywhere on the planet — nearly 1 out of 3 people make it to their 90s. Plus, Buettner says, ‘they have about 20 percent lower rates of cancer, 50 percent lower rates of heart disease and almost no dementia.’

“Our life spans are about 20 percent dictated by our genes, Buettner says. The rest is lifestyle…. ‘They … have a diet that's very interesting,’ Buettner continues. ‘It's very high in olive oil; it's very high in fruits and vegetables.’ It's also very high in greens; about 150 kinds of veggies grow wild on the island….

“Particularly unusual to this new blue zone are the villagers' drinking habits. Tea drinking, that is. Icarians drink herbal teas every day, morning and night….This seems to be one of their secrets to longer living.… ‘That's something we haven't seen in Okinawa or Costa Rica or Sardinia or any of the other blue zones,’ Buettner says.”


…. For those of us whose lifestyles haven’t really been particularly healthy over the years, hope it isn’t too late to make some changes. That is, if our plan is to remain active well into our 90s so that we can continue enjoying family and friends and avocations.

What would the point be of a longer life if you can’t be actively “up and about” anyway? Who would want to vegetate and waste away on a bed in a nursing home and be a burden to family and friends who have their own lives to live? Besides, is leading a healthy and active lifestyle even an assurance of long life in many parts of the world? What does one do about violent crime, pollution, pandemics, regional strife, and weapons of mass destruction?

Makes one wonder whether or not blue zones are indeed viable outside of Icaria, Okinawa, and similar places. It looks like places like these have taken generations to evolve -- and in relative isolation from the rest of this crazy world at that. So many variables....

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