Residents of this island are active at 80. What’s their secret?

Residents of the Greek island Icaria have one of the highest average life expectancies in the world. What’s their secret? Can you get it even if you don’t live there?

 An elderly couple (illustrative) (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
An elderly couple (illustrative)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

In 2008, American author Dan Buettner first coined the term "blue zones" when he published a bestseller reviewing the regions with the highest life expectancy in the world. 

The book extensively examined the daily habits, diet, jobs and hobbies of the people we want to be, living longer, healthier lives and getting sick less often.

One of the most famous stories from the blue regions comes from Icaria about the extraordinary life of Stamatis Moraitis.

Moraitis was born and raised in Icaria, but later moved to Florida. In his 50s he still worked as an expert craftsman, until he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1976 and given nine months to live. He decided to take his wife and three children back to the island he loved so much, to die and be buried there.

Decades later, in 2013, at about age 100, Moraitis died. This was after all the American doctors who treated him had said that he wouldn’t much longer had already died themselves. 

It's a story that sounds like a fairy tale but it illustrates just how different life in the "blue areas" is from life in the modern and developed cities of the world.

Therefore, one can certainly understand why many researchers from around the world want to delve into the secret of these areas. After examining the menu, fitness and other aspects of the inhabitants daily lives, one can look at another, equally important and significant aspect, which may also contribute to this equation: sex life.

More sex, less drugs improve performance

Buettner not only published a book on the "blue zones,” he established an organization that is dedicated to researching these areas and gathering the data about them. An interesting article published by the organization stated more than 80% of Icarians between the ages of 65 and 100 have sex regularly. And if that's not amazing enough, most people report that they don’t need medications or aids to do so.  

The truth is that anyone familiar with the field will not be surprised by these findings. 

A study published in 1997 in the British Journal of Medicine found that among men after the age of 45 who experience orgasm regularly, the chance of death from heart disease is reduced by more than 50%.  A similar study conducted among menopausal American women found that they, too, enjoy a reduced risk of premature death if they reach sexual gratification frequently.

It’s said that there is nothing that stands in the way of desire, there is always the awkward uncle who must add that there might be a will, but there’s erectile dysfunction. It’s true that we all want an active sex life even in old age, but what do we do when biology does not exactly align with our desires?

We stated that when Buettner and his team examined the "blue areas" they studied every aspect of the residents' lives to understand what their magic secret was. It’s important to understand that an active sex life, diet, exercise and peace of mind all affect each other and each has an influence on our lives.

For a good sex life, there should be love and passion between the couple, but it’s also important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet that is based on lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, poultry and some wine. This isn’t an urban legend. Scientists now know that this menu improves blood circulation, which in turn also affects sexual desire and performance in bed.   

In fact, erectile dysfunction in men is an early and important sign of circulatory problems, which can later lead to heart disease. 

On the other hand there is a long line of studies that have found that improving nutrition can definitely solve this embarrassing disorder. And if that’s not enough, this change can also benefit the brain and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia

As we delve deeper into the field we realize how much everything that is good for our brain helps blood circulation and our overall health.