Potions, elixirs and the legendary fountain of youth may not have been found yet. But the quest for a healthy, long life hasn’t ceased. Now that the mortals have finally come around accepting that no miraculous invention with come about being their savior, they’ve taken it upon themselves to create a lifestyle to increase their longevity.
We talked to citizens of some of the countries where people live substantially longer than the average, as ranked by the 2017 World Happiness Report, to unearth the reasons and secret source of their joie de vivre.
The Japanese nationals have one of the highest life expectancies and live to the average age of 83. Okinawa, also known as the ‘land of immortals’ is the longevity research hub as the southern Japanese islands have more than 400 centenarians living. What contributes to their age is the local diet of tofu and sweet potato and a small portion of fish. Some even credit the active social circle and a strong community for the lower stress levels.
To reap these benefits, learning the language as an expat is an essential, said Daniele Gatti, CEO of Velvet Media and long-time Japan resident. “Japan has an amazing quality of life if you can get past the language hurdle to better understand the mentality”.
82.8 years is the average age the Spanish go on to live. A sumptuous Mediterranean diet laced with healthy olive oil, vegetables and wine has contributed to the Spaniard’s longevity. But the secret ingredient still remains: the siesta.
Miquel Àngel Diez i Besora from Barcelona and Gray Line tour guide says, “If you have a continuous shift and just a half an hour break for lunch, then you eat a quick takeaway. On the contrary, if you are forced to stop for two or three hours, then you go home or go to a restaurant where you can sit down, eat two courses and dessert, and have time enough to digest well, it’s going to be healthier than a takeaway.”
Marina Manasyan, co-founder of Barcelona Eat Local Food Tours asserts that it also the walking to nearby places or ditching the public transport for a stroll and biking adds to good health.
With effortless access to state-of-the-art medical facilities and nothing short of a “miracle” healthcare system, Singaporeans, no doubt, can live up to 83.1 years. The country’s healthcare being prevention-centric, it has progressed to become a country with one of the lowest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world.
The rich culture and accessible urban environment also contributes to a longer life. “You will see a lot of people going to gyms or exercising in the public parks, which are plentiful,” said Bino Chua, a current resident and travel blogger at I Wander. The country has a lot of people going to the gyms and parks which is how they came up with the idea of a therapeutic park, designed to reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing among aging adults. The country also taxes cigarettes and alcohol heavily.
Europe’s wealthiest country's citizens mark 81 as the average age of living. Switzerland is endowed with the best of the health care facilities, strong personal safety and sound sense of wellbeing. The country’s high intake of cheese and dairy is a leading factor too.
Some of the other things that make Switzerland stand out are - central location which makes it easier for MNCs to have their headquarters, the picturesque locations for relaxing escapes and the finest private schools.
In one of the firsts, South Korea is set to hit a life expectancy of 90 years. The credits go to a robust economy, extensive access to healthcare and lower blood pressure than Western counterparts.
The country also inculcates a diet rich in fermented foods which are high in fibre and nutrients, which are said to lower cholesterol, boost immunity and inhibit cancer.
Cultural focus on community, associated traditions and the peaceful mindset brought about by Buddhism contributes to quality of life here. “The Jimjilbang (public bathhouse) brings together people to recreate, to socialise and to help reduce stress,” said Camille Hoheb, founder of Wellness Tourism Worldwide.
Information & title image source: bbc