Why the Mediterranean lifestyle is healthier

Lifestyle2 min read

The fascinating benefits of a Mediterranean lifestyle: Siestas and good eating… when it comes to a healthy lifestyle, Mediterraneans have the right idea

The people of Italy, Greece, Spain and their neighbours are onto something. They not only have the most delicious food in the world, they have some of the lowest obesity rates and have longer life spans than people in other developed countries.

Evidence shows that following a traditional Mediterranean lifestyle is good for you in more ways than one. Here’s how to follow their rules and live longer.

Mediterranean lifestyle

1. Make wise food choices

According to the OECD, only one in 10 Italian adults are thought to be overweight. This is very low when you consider that the average obesity rate in the Western world is one in six.

The original Mediterranean food pyramid is very similar to the ones recommended by global food organisations. It encourages limited sugar, replaces butter with healthy olive oil  and uses herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour food. The well-known not-for-profit organisation Mayo Clinic reports that a traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, thanks to its emphasis on whole grains and fresh produce.

They have a reputation for enjoying the good things in life such as delicious cured meats and red wine, but Mediterraneans go for quality over quantity and savour the experience.

2. Follow an ‘easy/active’ routine

Mediterraneans are part of the coveted ‘Blue Zone’ people, who are the healthiest and have the longest life spans in the world. However, amazingly, this happens with many of them never having a specific exercise routine.

So how do they do it? Based on his studies of Blue Zone communities, National Geographic writer Dan Beuttner explains that they set their lives up for physical activity. They walk to the store instead of driving. They cook from scratch and burn calories while they do it. People in Greece and Italy are more likely to climb steep hills and steps as part of their daily routine. They also work in their gardens, exercising as they grow their own organic food.

What’s more – the Mediterranean lifestyle means less stress. Slowing down for an afternoon siesta encourages lower blood pressure and reduces the odds of cardiovascular disease.

3. Be connected

It’s not just what Mediterraneans eat, it’s how they eat it. The people of these countries tend to sit down for meals with others to catch up and socialise. They eat with other people and have lively conversations instead of sitting in front of the TV or constantly checking their mobile phones.

This positive lifestyle encourages communal care of young children and the elderly, meaning everybody feels supported throughout their life. Studies show that older people who live in a community are 40 per cent less likely to suffer from depression than those who feel isolated in nursing homes – another sign of the benefits of staying in close touch with your loved ones.

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