Secrets From the World's Healthiest Countries
When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, Americans can learn a lot from other cultures. Check out these five global inspirations you can work into your own life, starting now:
Eat like an Okinawan.
In Okinawa, Japan, people eat until they are 80 percent full, says Annie Hauck-Lawson, a registered dietitian who teaches Foods of Diverse Populations at Brooklyn College in New York. Try it and wait 20 minutes before having seconds. Locals call this 80 percent approach to food “Hara Hachi Bu,” and researchers think it partly explains why Okinawans have one of the world’s highest life expectancies -- 81.2 years!
Try Turkish delights.
Turkish kids are sent out to play with pockets stuffed with dried fruit, nuts and seeds, she says. Natural foods are not only a healthy kiddie treat, but great nutrition for adults too. And studies have found that raisins may help to prevent gum disease.
Soak up the sun.
Studies show that Caribbean women have stronger bones than their Northern European counterparts. Moderate but regular exposure to the sun improves bone health.
Find your purpose.
In Nicoya, Costa Rica, they call it “plan de vida.” The phrase refers to Costa Ricans’ purpose in life, the reason they wake up every morning. Knowing your passion gives you an optimistic outlook and a healthy state of mind -- a key to living well into old age.
Live like the Greeks
Many residents of Ikaria, a remote mountain island that was the home of the mythical Icarus, live to be at least 90, with less cancer, heart disease and dementia, according to the Blue Zone research. Their secret is balance, and it’s speculated to be based on these three main aspects of their lifestyle: a diet filled with greens, a low-stress lifestyle and a strong sense of connectedness in their community.
Paul Berger is the author and contributing editor of seven books. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Forbes and The Guardian.
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