Are by all estimations part of a very esteemed short list, by no surprise. Also by no surprise, the good old US of A is no where in ear shot of this list. So then naturally, it begs the question–what does it take to be the world’s healthiest country, and are we capable of ever joining the ranks. So let’s first take a look:
- Okinawa, Japan
- New Zealand
- Japan (Major)
- South Korea
That’s basically in order, according to average life-spans and incidence of disease. Notice a trend? Nearly half the list is comprised of Asian countries. The list is however fully comprised of countries whose focus has been on good water, clean air, and sustainable, organic farming. In fact, in many articles I have been reading they don’t even decipher between organic farming, and conventional farming, because organic is the standard. In many cases there are laws in place to protect consumers from GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms), and other dangerous pesticides. So, ok–check. Healthy growing practices.
What else? I noticed that they all eat clean food as a standard. There aren’t modified ingredients, few refined foods, and very little processing. Not only does this protect the heart and waistline, it also protects the air and water quality as well–see point above re: healthy agriculture. In a couple inquiries I sent out in curiosity about clean eating diets, I was met with raised eyebrows and question marks as to what exactly clean eating is! Can you imagine? The concept is so normal, it’s not even a concept! It’s a way of life. So high quality, clean food. Check.
In Okinawa, it is not abnormal for people to live to see 110 years old. In fact, it’s normal! The answer? Simplicity. The thing we very ironically seem to have to fabricate, and strive for, and invest huge amounts of effort into here in the States. They eat a plant based diet full of organic, local produce, they walk, do tai chi and martial arts, and stay busy all day long, promoting restful nights sleep. That’s it! This is not new information. We all know this, right? Eat well, exercise, do meaningful work and sleep. Essentially, being kind to yourself. Check.
To be fair, the food, agricultural and nutrition practices in these regions of the world have survived from generation to generation for centuries. They believe in what they are doing, and there is no other alternative. They settle for nothing when it comes to health, and the governments make it a determined mission to protect everyone from anything less. Admirable! We try here, but we have so much against us. It doesn’t feel like we really know how to eat. We follow fad diets, eat crap, put exercising last, and work to make money, as opposed to doing passion driven work. Take the Netherlands. It’s cold there. Yet, there are few cars and everyone rides bikes. New Zealand has it easiest–they are in the sun all day long eating kiwi’s and enjoying the freedom of building in a multitude of outdoor activities into daily life.
So can we get there? We’ll have to each answer that on our own, as it will take a community effort to achieve country wide healthfulness. Afterall, it’s our demand that drives the production of all our little nutrition sins. We can learn from these trail blazing countries though that it starts (literally!) from the ground up. Good water breeds good soil. Good soil breeds healthy crops. Healthy crops breed clean air. Clean air breeds healthy people. And of course, healthy crops is the beginning of all nutrition. We have to take it upon ourselves to care more, and pay attention to what we are doing and certainly what we are eating. Then, surely, Government policies and regulations will respond resoundingly. Sorry dairy. Sorry caged animals. Sorry corn & soy. We can take this country back! That’s a start!