Are you living in one of the world’s healthiest countries? Life expectancy, weight, and the predominance of conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes are all consistent factors that when measured, show us that certain countries around the world are doing a much better job than others at keeping healthy.
Want to steal their secrets? Discover the tried and true habits of the healthiest nations in the world...
If you’re looking for the secret to the health of northern Europeans, look no further than a diet full of fish, dairy and unrefined carbs.
The healthiest countries in Europe tend to be in the north, and they all have similar habits that contribute to their healthier lifestyles. Iceland and Sweden are two of the healthiest countries worldwide, and their reliance on a few key dietary components is key. The prevalence of a diet high in oily and fresh fish is a definite factor, as fish is high in Omega-3 which is great for heart health.
Northern Europeans are also partial to high quality dairy products such as fermented milk and cheese, which are said to aid in digestion, similar to the way a probiotic yogurt does.
High fibre, low sugar, and the prevalence of complex carbs such as rye bread are contributing factors as well. Fruits and root veggies are key.
And if you’re looking for non-dietary tips from the Nordic countries, you can guarantee that a good sauna session, lots of walking and cycling (even in the wintertime, including Nordic Walking with ski-type poles) are some of their favourite ways to rid the body of toxins and stay fit all year round.
Few diets are worshipped as much as the Mediterranean diet, and it all comes down to the consistency of a few major elements that we see in modern healthy eating guides everywhere – freshness, fish, and our favourite, red wine.
If you’re gonna drink, wine is generally the way to go health-wise, and the red wine that is oh so prevalent in Mediterranean cultures has the antioxidants and blood thinning properties that take away the guilt of consumption.
Their diet is also very high in fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, which when prepared with the right seasonings and the health-nectar that is olive oil make for salads and side dishes that taste too good to be any good for you, but actually are.
Fresh fish is a super-important component as well, with whole grains and the freshest dairy rounding out a very balanced, tasty and healthy diet. Add in the prevalence of stairs and walking as a part of everyday routines, and the communal nature of eating and living in Mediterranean culture, and you’ve got a delicious and well-seasoned recipe for a long and happy life.
The most sworn by secrets of the healthiest Asian countries all come down to preventative medicine, small and slow portions, and fresher, healthier choices.
Like the Nordic countries, diets in places like Singapore and Japan rely largely on seafood as their meat source. And although eating a whole lot of rice may seem counterintuitive to healthy eating habits, they hardly eat any carb-y foods containing wheat. Their diet is a bit higher in carbs than would seem healthy, but it’s also low in saturated fats.
Seaweed is a big factor in many Asian diets as well, and seaweed is nothing short of a superfood, packed with nutrients and fibre. When it comes to beverages, tea and water are the main choices, while sugary drinks and treats are for special occasions only.
Preventative medicine is also a key component of their healthy lifestyle, and the practising of martial arts and meditation help to reduce stress and improve mental and physical health.
Add in seasonal foods without additives, lots of spices and herbs which have their own health benefits, smaller portions and a slower eating process than western countries, and it’s pretty easy to see why many Asian cultures live longer, healthier lives.
When it comes to a consistent and hearty diet, many countries in West Africa are doing it way better than many North American and European nations.
Although portion sizing and hunger are a problem for many in countries such as Chad and Senegal, the components of a typical diet are high in fibre and omega 3s.
Processed foods are few and far between in a traditional West African diet, and the prevalence of legumes, lean meats, fish, beans, whole grains and hearty stews all contribute to a healthier lifestyle in general.
Why is it that people in France get to have all the fun you ask? Why are cigarettes, pastries and alcohol the staples of a culture that is known for being so thin and healthy? Well, the French simply put it down to having a very different relationship with food.
First of all, breakfast in France isn’t really a big deal, and for many people, just consists of a coffee and (maybe) a croissant. Snacking is also an activity that hasn’t really reached French culture yet, and the key element of French eating is the portion sizes are traditionally significantly smaller than normal, for all meals.
You may be wondering how the heck tiny portion sizes can be a feasible option for so many people, but the quality of French food has a lot to do with it as well. French cooking is known for being delicious, and along with the high quality ingredients, lean meats and high saturated fats, French cuisine is something that is enjoyed and savoured during every meal.
When you’re eating decadent foods every day you’re less likely to want to binge eat or overeat, since you know that you’ll be getting more of that goodness at your next meal. So instead of eating 8 maracons in one sitting, you’ll have one today and think about which flavour you’ll pick tomorrow.
And when it comes to drinking, French cuisine sticks to water, tea/coffee and wine – once again cutting out the sugary stuff for three choices to suit every occasion. It really is so brilliant that we wish we’d thought of it ourselves.