The news site Bloomberg has released its Global Health Index and (surprise!) Italy is the world’s healthiest country.
Italy has an unexpectedly high number of centenarians – people who live to the age of 100. In fact, in one Italian village, 10% of the 3,000 residents are 100 or older!
So why is this happening? How did Italy become the world’s healthiest country?
Best Life asked me if I had any idea why Italy was so healthy and I was all “yep, here’s why”:
- Eating well: Forget carb-free diets, Italians live by the notion of “Everything in moderation.” There is no counting calories or any concept of free days – simply eating well (but not too much) is key. Italians start with pasta, but serving sizes are small – about 100g – and the sauces tend to be homemade rather than canned atrocities loaded with cream, salt and/or sugar. Next comes meat, and a side of fresh vegetables with plenty of olive oil. And pizza? That’s fine too, but once a week or less. Let’s not be crazy here. (But if you find yourself hungry, here are some Rome restaurant reviews to tide you over).
- Italians are masters of work-life balance: The first thing Italians like to ask Americans is “Is it true you only get two weeks of vacation a year?!” Italians get 4 weeks on average, and take every single day afforded to them. Don’t expect email replies after working hours either – leisure time is taken seriously.
- Keep it moving: Italians might not be gym rats, but almost everyone takes a passeggiata – a daily walk before dinner. It is the break between work and play, a chance to catch up with friends and neighbors, and a good excuse for a bit of exercise. But not too much – remember: everything in moderation.
- Indulge a little: Italian living is about enjoyment, not excess. When it comes to drinking, Italians will pop open a bottle of wine and enjoy a glass with dinner without a batting an eye. However, binge drinking is virtually unheard of. The healthy relationship with booze keeps everyone feeling like they enjoyed themselves, without the hangover to match.
- Family and Friends: Everyone needs some alone time but nothing can bum you out faster than feeling isolated. Italians rely upon friends and family, and have large social networks. Need help with something? They always know a guy. The social networks are key to healthy relationships.
- Health care: Yes, we can talk about lifestyle for ages because the Italians have that completely down: the right food, the right amount of wine, the right exercise and the right relationships. However, keeping healthy requires the right health care as well. Perhaps there are waits to see some doctors, but overall the national health care is amazing and free. (In other words, essentially the opposite of what the US is currently proposing with the changes to the Affordable Care Act).
Do you think there are other reasons that Italy is the healthiest country in the world? Do you feel healthier here?
The rest of the top five include: Iceland, Switzerland, Singapore and Australia.