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5 things we can learn about living well from other cultures

One way to travel the world while staying right here at home? Adopting the habits and diets of other cultures around the world. All the better if those habits happen to be healthy, of course…

Blue Zones are areas of the world in which people tend to live longer, healthier lives. We’ve picked a few of these and looked at how exactly we can gain some tips and tricks from their fine example. (We’re not giving up our good old Irish obsession with the weather though, don’t worry!)

1. Eat more fish

First things first: a diet rich in seafood like the Japanese. Fish is linked to a rake of health benefits, from lowering risk of heart disease to upping mood levels and reducing inflammation – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. One other trick? Have your fish grilled, steamed or poached to maximize the health benefit potential.

2. Eat more veg (and beans to boot)

Well, while the glorious weather in Sardinia might help them enjoy life to a grand old age, there are other health benefits to living in the Med. Their plant-based diets are also a key increaser of lifespan, specifically a daily intake of beans and pulses, which are a low-fat source of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.

3. Food prep matters

Not only do many Blue Zone areas have a plant-heavy diet, but how they prepare and consume these veggies is also paramount. Vegetables are often seasonal and grown at home and served raw, with just a little olive oil for flavour. The method you use to cook vegetables has an impact on their health benefits. For example, try to limit the amount of fried vegetables you eat, as the process destroys nutrients and also adds empty calories and harmful fats.

4. Be active – a little and often

Moderate exercise in our daily lives has been shown to have significant health benefits. Walking a little and often, as Greek islanders tend to, means their bodies are in motion almost every 20 minutes to-ing and fro-ing. For us, this may be as simple as stretching your legs every hour or so at your desk or the couch. Almost all of us could do with getting a little more exercise into our daily lives as a matter of habit. This could be as simple as getting off the bus a stop earlier than usual to get in a brisk walk.

5. Adjust your attitude

Another key learning from the Blue Zones is to take it easy. And – here’s the real sweetener – take plenty of naps. 30 minutes once a day to get you through the afternoon can actually be better for your health than persevering through a sleepy fog. This is because naps (ranging between 15 to 90 minutes) can improve brain functions, such as the ability to focus, creativity and memory.

So there you have it, how to watch and learn from the world’s healthiest areas..

For more articles on keeping healthy, check out previous posts on the Vhi Blog.