Have you heard of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index?
Their last report was 2 years ago and in that time Spain has risen 6 places and is now on top of the list with 92.7 out of 100 marks. Foreigners have been telling their friends and family at home that Spain is definitely a good country to live in.
Especially people who were born in Nordic Countries will often find in Spain their second home. Climate is one of its big attractions, beautiful scenery and historical places, great food, and in general, a quite relaxed lifestyle make up some of the points why Spain is chosen to spend the retirement years.
How do you get to the top of the list?
Espanol Global, a promotional agency run by the government, looked at the different data sets of the Bloomberg list which document the quality of life in 169 countries. There are many different types of data needed for making this study. Studies, such as what do people eat on a daily basis, how many people of the population smoke, and the obesity rate are all taken into consideration. Another important factor is if the environment is well taken care of because a good environment impacts the quality of life.
I have lived in Spain since 1975 and on my organic farm in the south of Spain since 1981. I have experienced a change in attitude towards the environment. In old times you just would dump the trash on the street.
Nowadays we recycle, which I think is a good thing. Plastic, paper and cardboard, organic, normal waste, and glass are all recycled and have to go in the right place. Otherwise, you might get a fine if you are caught.
The same happens when walking your pet on the street and in parks. You better take your doggy bag with you (definitely not one from your favorite restaurant.) You have to clean up after your pet has gone to the loo. When I walk in my village, I notice it is very clean and people enjoy this fact. People have become more conscious of their surroundings and also the treatment of animals has improved a lot.
Bloomberg has put the following countries on the list of the top 10 along with Spain; Italy, Iceland, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Singapore, Norway, and Israel.
A good public health system
There are many things a health system has to take care of. In Spain, special attention is given to children in their formative years, women, and older people. This special care has brought down heart disease and cancer. At this moment in the chapter of life expectancy, Spain is #3 behind Japan and Switzerland but by the year 2040, it will reach first place. By then, it is that life expectancy in Spain will be up to 86 years young.
How to reach a ripe old age
Well, here it seems that the Mediterranean diet has gotten the gold medal for being one of the healthiest ways one can eat. Olive oil, which has been a dietary staple for hundreds of years, is still very much used in Spain. In the morning you can often see Spanish people having their breakfast in a bar. There they will order toasted bread with olive oil and tomato.
I have taken on this habit also. I eat my toast with olive oil and really like it. Be it with eggs, cheese, salami, and honey or marmalade. It took a while to get used to but now I love it. Olive oil and eating nuts and seeds seem to be very beneficial to avoid cardiovascular problems.
Olive oil has a very old history
The origin of the olive tree seems to be Asia Minor or ancient Greece but other sources state it could be Syria or sub-Saharan Africa. It is documented that in 6000 BC, olives were turned into olive oil and since then Its properties have helped individuals to remain healthy.
It is especially true that the first press, which delivers the extra virgin olive oil, has these properties. In old times a man and his donkey would travel the villages with big amphoras tied to the donkey’s sides. The man would sell the freshly pressed olive oil, which had a strong aroma and often a light green color. Nowadays one buys the extra virgin olive oil in the supermarket. The price is still very good as one pays less than 4 Euros per liter.
Olive oil for your health
Olive oil is helpful for many things and I list here a few of its benefits. It reduces bad cholesterol levels, the elderly have a smaller risk suffering from a stroke, the use of olive oil lowers blood pressure and prevents hypertension. It improves brain memory, which is especially important as one gets older. Different cancers like colon, breast and pancreatic may benefit from olive oil. Your skin and hair and also digestion will improve. The list is long, have a look
The biggest producer of olive oil in the world
Data from the year 2000 documents that Spain had around 36% of the world production followed by Italy with 24%. Other countries included Turkey, Syria, Morocco, and Portugal with 4% to 1.6%. Recently, it was reported that a horrible plaque called Xylella Fastidiosa has decimated the olive tree in many Mediterranean countries. Data from 2016/17 period show a total world production of 2586 thousand tonnes of olive oil. That is 18% less than in the previous period. Even with the plague on olive trees, Spain’s contribution is 50% of the total in production. Turkey, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Syria, and Tunisia are the other countries.
So there has been an increase in Spain, still, one should not forget Global Warming. Spain is lacking water and even if the olive tree is very sturdy it can neither survive forever without rain.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
Olive oil is an important ingredient. You can eat your fill on vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, bread (non-GMO of course), herbs and spices, fish and seafood. Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt are things which are allowed, but in moderation.
The list of things you should really avoid (I do not think some of these are a surprise) includes soda pop and similar drinks. They are out of the question due to loads of sugar contained in these beverages. The list also forbids processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and one can say all man-made foods in general.
The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets worldwide. If you follow the guidelines you will experience better health up to old age. Like that you will certainly reach the happy age of 86 and more. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me.
Source: Newspaper Sur in English, March 2019. Wikipedia.
Photo Source: Pixabay
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