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7 Countries With the Healthiest People

7 Countries With the Healthiest People

They live well into their nineties and often times up break the hundred year mark. Their existence is healthy but the underlying reasons are often cultural. In fact, it’s not just that individuals take care of themselves; it’s a country-wide phenomenon that’s based on lifestyle choices.

Why are certain countries home to the world’s happiest, healthiest people on Earth? What do they eat? What daily habits are different from other societies?

I set out to answer these questions and along the way I found some striking similarities between these fit nations, spread far and wide across the globe.

1. Iceland

Due to a smaller population, Iceland is one of the least polluted countries in the world. But clean air isn’t the only reason why Icelanders are so healthy; they also like to hit the gym. Due to chilly weather much of the year, Icelanders workout in order to beat the winter blues. The country enjoys one of the highest life expectancies (72 for men and 74 for women). It also has one of the lowest infant mortality rates at 2 deaths per 1,000 babies. Forbes Magazine ranked it the healthiest country in the world.

2. Japan

The World Health Organization (WHO) calculated the countries where people live to full health the longest and Japan came out on top with 74.5 years. Much of this is due to diet.

“Every meal in Japan looks like a piece of art. Food is so beautiful and so delicious and so simple,” fitness expert Harley Pasternak said to Empower News Magazine. “They are the largest consumer of fish in the world and of whole soy and of seaweed and green tea. When they are about 80 percent full, they stop and wait for about 10 minutes, then decide whether to keep going. And most times, they are full so they don’t need to keep eating more.”

3. Sweden

Government policies promote a healthy way of life including positive work/life balance. The population also loves to play outside and with a stunning landscape full of rolling hills, mountains, and glacial lakes, it’s easy, according to National Geographic. Additionally, because of their location they eat a diet that’s high in fish and omega fatty acids. Their cooking methods also reflect that of a healthy population. Rather than using an abundance of oil they poach, ferment, smoke, and dry their foods.

4. Okinawa

Okinawa is a Prefecture or sub national jurisdiction of Japan. However, it’s worth mentioning it separately because it’s widely believed to have the healthiest people on Earth. According to the Okinawa Centenarian Study, centenarian ratios may be the world’s highest at approximately 50 per 100,000 people. The country is also home to many super centenarians, people that reach the age of 110 years old. Okinawans attribute their not only long, but healthy, happy lives to eating tons of local fruits and vegetables, as well as large quantities of tofu and seaweed. Their lives also include rigorous daily activity and relatively low stress.

5. New Zealand

Similar to Iceland, a lower population and lack of pollution make New Zealand a great place to call home. New Zealanders love outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and fishing. All and all it’s just an easier place to embrace a fit lifestyle. No matter where you live you’re not but a 90 minute drive from the ocean.

“Plus there’s an abundance of healthy whole foods. We eat fresh seafood (we often catch it ourselves) and local organic fruits and vegetables. Everyone grows something here and neighbors all put out bags for purchase by anyone. We get fresh lettuce from the kids’ school, avocados from our tree, and kiwis, apples and plums from our neighbors,” says Jill Chalmers who moved to New Zealand with her Kiwi husband.

6. Sardinia

Sardinia is an autonomous region of Italy that’s home to a large population of centenarians. There’s a real sense of community in Sardinia. People are close knit and the elderly often live with their families. The men are often shepherds, walking about 5 miles per day and the diet consists of “whole grain flatbread, fava beans, tomatoes, greens, garlic, various fruits, olive oil and pecorino cheese from grass-fed sheep (high in Omega 3).”

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7. Finland

According to Forbes Magazine, Finland was plagued with one of the highest death rates from heart disease just 30 years ago. As a result, the nation has worked vigorously to encourage a healthy lifestyle among its people. Smoking has been reduced significantly and fruit and vegetable intake has more than doubled. It shows that if you make an effort to change, you can.

While many factors lead to a long, healthy life, these countries have a lot in common. Many of them lack pollution and make a healthy work/balance and controlling stress a high priority. They also eat meat very rarely if ever and find protein in fish and tofu while loading up on local fruits and vegetables.

By Sara Novak, Planet Green

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

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How Climate Affects Your Health

How Climate Affects Your Health

 How Climate Affects Your Health

My knee says a storm is coming…

The word “holistic” is used extensively to describe complementary forms of health care. But what does holistic really mean?

My definition of a holistic system of medicine is one that considers a person’s health in the context of the whole life of the patient. This includes the patient’s given constitutional tendencies, lifestyle choices (e.g., exercise, sleep patterns, etc.), the foods that a person consumes (including drugs and alcohol), emotional life, social life, and the external physical environment in which the patient lives — including climate and weather.

Chinese medicine was developed from the belief that we are deeply connected to, inseparable even, from our environment. It is helpful to understand how different external environments can influence the internal environment of our bodies.

6 Doctor-Tested Ways to Keep a Cold Away

In my last article, I discussed the various functions of qi. One of those functions is to protect against “invasion” from pathogenic influences. If our qi is strong enough, we can be exposed to harsh environments and not be too negatively impacted. If our protective qi is not strong enough, then environmental pathogens can penetrate into the body. When your mother told you to “bundle up” before you went into the cold or wind, she was telling you the same thing. Specifically, in Chinese medicine, when you catch a cold or the flu, it is said that the wind has invaded the body. When this happens, it often carries with it other environmental energies, such as heat, cold, or dampness. Wind invasions are characterized by sudden onset, aversion to drafts, and symptoms that change rapidly or move around, like the wind. If the wind has carried heat into the body, we say that a person has a “wind-heat” invasion. In addition to symptoms of wind, their symptoms will also be heat-related, manifesting in a fever, sweating, a red and irritated sore throat, strong thirst, or a fast pulse. A “wind-cold” invasion reflects symptoms of wind, plus cold symptoms such as chills, fear of cold, tightness in neck and shoulders (because cold makes the body contract and causes pain), headache, and a lack of sweating and thirst.

While some symptoms are caused by invasion from the outside environment, other diseases are created by internal factors, namely, the emotions.The Chinese name five destructive emotions: worry, anger, fear, sadness and over-joy (mania). A relaxed, emotionally-balanced state is ideal. Each emotion affects a specific organ and the body’s qi in a predictable way. Other factors include a weak constitution, excessive sexual activity, traumatic injury, and poor dietary habits. The amount of sexual activity that is considered “healthy” varies from person to person, but is related to a person’s age, inherent constitutional strength and the state of qi or health. Generally, the younger and healthier a person is, the more sexual activity he or she can have without negatively impacting health. Even diseases that have been caused from emotional or other factors will often have symptoms or characteristics that mimic environmental energies. For example, the symptoms of neurological disease — tremors, for example — often mimic the shaking movements of wind, while oozing sores, yeast overgrowth, excessive nasal mucus or other discharges reflect the energy of wet or damp weather.

 

Why do some people have symptoms that worsen with cold weather, while others suffer more in hot weather?

People with imbalances that reflect environmental energies often have symptoms that worsen when the weather is similar to their internal imbalance. People with internal heat (from internal or external causes) have symptoms that worsen in hot weather and feel better in cold weather. Those with internal cold will have symptoms that worsen in cold weather and feel better in hot weather. We all know people who seem to be able to predict that a storm is coming from the way their arthritic joints feel. This can be explained because the arthritis may have a “damp” component, worsening as the humidity increases with the approach of damp weather.

An acupuncturist or Chinese herbalist will analyze a patient’s symptoms, then use herbs or stimulate acupuncture points that have functions such as clearing heat, dispersing wind, or draining dampness in order to bring the patient’s energy back into balance. Also, by learning the specific energetics of food, we can eat in a way which brings us back toward balance, instead of adding to our imbalance. Some foods create heat (e.g., meats, spices, and greasy foods), some cool the body (e.g., raw vegetables and most fruits) and other foods (e.g., dairy products and sugar) generate dampness. Your licensed acupuncturist can help you understand your symptoms and give you personalized dietary recommendations.

Be well!

Scott Evans, Eastern Medicine & Aging Specialist, Caring.com

Caring.com was created to help you care for your aging parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. As the leading destination for eldercare resources on the Internet, our mission is to give you the information and services you need to make better decisions, save time, and feel more supported. Caring.com provides the practical information, personal support, expert advice, and easy-to-use tools you need during this challenging time.

How To Live Like You’re On Vacation – Everyday

How To Live Like You’re On Vacation – Everyday

How To Live Like You’re On Vacation – Everyday

Ah, this month is a doozy isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong – I love my job, but there’s something about these first weeks in January that kills. It’s like yesterday was all a-flutter with holiday lights and celebratory cheer and today is just… well shit, we’re just smack dab in the heart of winter. Getting “back to the grind” post holi-daze can feel particularly daunting when you’ve had some time away – which, I am grateful to say, I did. On an island. In Belize. Yep, I’m That Girl. The one who returns to the office in January abnormally (annoyingly) tan and chipper? Hi there. I think there’s still sand in my shoes.

But I’ve come to realize – as my boyfriend “helpfully” takes down the Christmas tree and I weep into my latté – that we don’t have to relinquish those delicious feelings of vacation just yet. In fact (drumroll), I’m quite dedicated to the idea of manifesting the get-away vibes as a integral part of my daily lifestyle (cymbal crash! Ooh! Aah!)! Not convinced? Read on.

Island Livin’

I spent a delicious week in December on a tiny island off of Belize City. My cousin was there studying abroad, my uncle had some frequent flier miles, and the gods were smiling upon me: presto change-o, Lauren’s on a tropical island for seven days. (Deep, deep bows of gratitude.) Each morning we woke up and slapped on bathing suits and SPF before breakfast. Each afternoon we played dominoes at the bar or caught naps in the hammock. Each evening we ate fresh sea fare and coconut rice by the light of the moon. Heaaaaaaven. The week was magical and relaxing in ways I hadn’t anticipated, but perhaps most surprising about the experience was the distinct voice shouting loud in my soul upon leaving: MUST. LIVE. HERE.

Ok, nothing special, right? Who doesn’t leave an island vacation tempted to skip that return flight and start a tugboat fishing business? But this voice was louder than any I’d heard in a long time, and it wasn’t telling me to move to Belize. (Ok, maybe a little.) It was saying – deep, resonant: Must live here, in this space – breathing more, doing less.

See, I believe that an integral part of being all me all the time is recognizing both what brings me joy and what brings out the joy in me. I like vacation, but I also like myself on vacation. I’m friendlier, I’m more peaceful, I’m more present. I dig the small stuff. I laugh louder and longer. I pay more attention to what I eat and whom I’m with and how I feel. And while sitting ocean-side with an umbrella in my ahem, juice, may make these feelings seem more accessible, they are absolutely possible to manifest at home as well. And frankly – “possible”? Necessary.

So, in the spirit of the New Year (and in clinging desperately to my quickly-fading tan), let’s get our get-away on.

9 Tips On how To Live Like You’re On An Everyday Vacation

  1. Unplug. I know, I know, you’ve heard this one before. But DO IT. I didn’t wear a watch for seven straight days and it was heavenly. I know that we have kids to pick up from school and meetings to make, but take at least one afternoon a week to throw your cell in a drawer and close that computer. Tell your spouse or a friend to wrangle you at a certain time, if you must – but really, lose track of time. (It’s kind of overrated anyway.)
  2. Rock that Stop-Doing list. Lissa Rankin recently wrote a great post about changing your to-do lists into not-do lists – as in, what would you like to free yourself from this week/month/year? Those choices were made for me on the island – what with limited Wi-Fi and housekeeping service – but there was something to be said about having very little I felt that I “needed” to accomplish each day. So, do some recon into your daily to-dos and see what you can delegate, diminish, or drop altogether. Create space.
  3. Reduce the stuff. You know one reason why hotels can feel so heavenly? Clutter-free, babes. This is another one you’ve heard before, but going to sleep with the laundry, laptop, and paper piles creeping over your nightstand makes for restless slumber. At the very least, give your boudoir the hotel once-over and ditch everything that doesn’t say relaxation. Moreover, think about all the stuff you use and “need” in a week’s time – if it wouldn’t make your suitcase, get rid of it. Pack (live) light.
  4. Talk to strangers. Whether it was asking for dining recommendations, a cheerful where-are-you-from over breakfast, or bonding with fellow snorkelers in our deathtrap tugboat, I met the loveliest of people by striking up dialogues with complete strangers. I know we’re all on-the-go in our daily lives and tend to walk the streets like we’re on missions from god (though yes, obtaining take-out Chinese can often feel like a divine calling), but try talking to someone new every day. You don’t have to be ocean-side to say hello there and ask for a good lunch spot.
  5. Eat locally. So maybe you won’t get to watch a sun-kissed fellow called Captain Jerry Jerome catch your dinner and throw it on the grill (true story), but chances are there are some regional delicacies in your ‘hood that you have not yet tried. Hit up your local farmer’s market, restaurant, and street fair to embrace the natural food of your area. Allow the idea of being present to carry into your recipes, cooking seasonally and trying new things. Be a locavore.
  6. Eat longer-ly. At home, I eat dinner in 15 minutes while also checking email, catching a sitcom, or going through my to-do list. On vacation, my favorite “restaurant” was a shack on the beach called Fran’s Fast Food – my quickest meal there took 2.5 hours. This is all to say, SLOW DOWN. Savoring each bite keeps you conscious of what (and how much) you’re eating and provides powerful opportunities for connecting with friends and family. Even if you’re dining solo, select one meal a week and take your sweet time with it. (Last night, a tofu stir-fry and I spent 60 sweet minutes together. Worth it.)
  7. Celebrate the small stuff. Toast to an easy commute, a beautiful sunset, waking up on time, and not getting a parking ticket. Celebrate a great hair day, an inspiring conversation with a friend, finishing a book (or a chapter, or a page!), and a surviving houseplant. Every moment of vacation seems to yell, Yes! Hello! Congratulations! – now it’s time to take a bit of that celebratory spirit into the “real world.”
  8. Connect with nature. Not all vacations will take us to remote locales – one of my favorite vacation spots, after all, is New York Cit-ay – but I will say that my most relaxing get-aways have been deeply connected to nature. Do what you can to bring a lil’ of nature’s positive perspective into your world – as my mom used to say about Hawaii, it’s hard to sweat the small stuff when you’re sitting between a volcano and the ocean. Even in winter, make time for the great outdoors.
  9. Take the scenic route. It’s easy to get stuck in ruts of taking the same streets home and the same shortcuts to the grocery store. In our efforts to streamline our tasks, we often forget how fun it is to get lost. (See Jennifer Shelton’s great post on getting lost here!) Vacation isn’t always about the destination – it’s about jumbled water taxi directions, wrong trains, and accidental hikes. Treat your city as if you’re seeing it for the first time and you know, take a left instead of a right. Explore.

Access the joy within

There are all sorts of other ways to bring the vacation-spirit into your daily living – listening to a white-noise machine with ocean sounds, putting a picture of your dream destination next to your computer, treating yourself like a tourist at home with a “staycation” – but none of those practices feel sustainable to me. I’m not trying to trick myself into an everyday vacation – I’m trying to live there, authentically. Breathe more, do less. Access the joy within to be my most celebrated, relaxed, curious self – with or without a tan.

By Lauren Nagel

Lauren Nagel is the editor in chief of OwningPink.com and a contributing writer for San Francisco music magazine The Owl Mag. Email her at lauren@owningpink.com

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