This National Nutrition Month, we unpack the diet secrets behind the healthiest countries in the world.
National Nutrition Month started life as a US awareness week back in 1973. Such was the support and interest in the cause, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics made the decision to dedicate a month to dietary education every year from 1980 onwards.
The campaign champions nutritional awareness and the importance of making informed food choices alongside an active lifestyle. As is inevitable in the social age that we’re living in, the craze caught on. Popularity has and continues to grow overseas, with many of our own health charities and organisations getting in the on the action. British voices routinely push food awareness throughout the month of March, with the nation’s own Nutrition and Hydration Week kicking off right in the middle(14th-20th).
Celebrate A World Of Flavours
This year’s theme is ‘celebrate a world of flavours.’ It’s all about embracing new foods from cultures across the globe. Experimenting with new cuisines can be a fun and delicious way to nourish ourselves and appreciate our diversity. It can mean discovering healthy food you’ve never considered and is a surefire way to expand your nutritional horizons.
Healthiest Diets Worldwide
“Let food be thy medicine.”Hippocrates (400 BC)
You’re sure to have heard this phrase before. Wise words indeed, it was Hippocrates who first spoke them. The father of “Western Medicine.” Though the landscape has changed, the message hasn’t. We cannot underestimate the importance of nutrition in the fight against ill health and disease.
With that and this year’s theme in mind, I’d like to take you overseas. These are the healthiest countries worldwide according to official rankings. Let’s see what we can learn from diets that fuel them.
It is no small feat to be named the world’s healthiest country. It’s an incredible achievement in itself. But by 2040, the Spanish will also have the highest life span, forecasted by the Lancet to be almost 86.
Spanish nutrition resembles the widely-championed Mediterranean diet, but with some interesting variations. The average Spaniard consumes more meat than the traditional outline recommends. Intake of fruit, veg, and grains also varies, falling just short of suggested this time. Still, the Mediterranean ideal of a diet rich in whole foods and fresh produce remains. Meals tend to be hand-cooked and unprocessed. As a result, this protein-rich diet is high in nutrients and low on calories to boot.
Italian food is incredibly popular. A firm favourite of many, this country’s dishes have been adopted and adapted across the globe. Pizza ranks high here in Britain. It’s the nation’s fourth most popular takeout treat. Pasta, too, is a staple. Spaghetti bolognese made the top five of Britain’s favourite family meals. But these dishes aren’t healthy. Not diet food, to say the least. So, why did Italy rank so highly? How can they eat like this and yet maintain healthy weights?
In truth, Italian food is varied and colourful. The typical diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as pulses, lean meat, whole grains and fish. Very little red meat is eaten, and sauces tend to be tomato or vegetable-based. The Italians, like most Mediterranean cultures, enjoy the experience of food. Meals are often a social occasion, with small plates eaten over a longer period. Portions, even then, are conservative. While enjoyed, meals aren’t eaten in excess.
Iceland has traditionally been populated predominantly near its coastline. Fresh fish is available all year round and haddock, plaice, herring, and shrimp play a large part in the nation’s diet. In fact, Icelandics consume around four times the average fish as other countries. As a result, their diet is low in saturated fat and high in omega 3.
Lamb is also a key player in Icelandic nutrition. Enjoyed in moderation, lamb is rich in high-quality protein and B vitamins. It’s an excellent source of zinc and iron, too. Add to that Iceland’s proud fresh produce culture, and you have the recipe for what is sure to be a fulfilling and balanced diet.
Japan has long been hailed for the health of its people. At present, it has the oldest population in the world. As an island, this country enjoys a plethora of fresh fish and seafood. It is prepared steamed, baked, grilled, or raw, and makes up a large portion of the Japanese diet. Fish is typically low-fat and offers a host of essential vitamins and minerals. Oily varieties boast Omega-3 fatty acids, which are key in maintaining a healthy heart.
In addition to this, the Japanese enjoy a host of fruit and vegetables. Diets are varied, balanced by carbohydrates and meat. Typically, the population steers away from processed drinks. Instead, they favour water and tea.
The Swiss diet is largely influenced by Italian, French, and German cuisine. It’s history, too. Many of the dishes you see today were passed down through several generations.
While renowned for their chocolate and world-class cheese, the Swiss adhere to a surprisingly healthy lifestyle. Full-fat foods are enjoyed alongside whole grains and muesli. Cured meats are popular, as are hearty stews. What really sets this country apart, however, is the culture. Switzerland boasts a unique and somewhat strict diet structure. Five meals are eaten daily, each at a set time with a specific range of food.
The Swedish lifestyle is admirable. Swedes are notoriously active when compared to other nations, but that fact alone can’t take all the credit for the population’s high life expectancy. Their diet is also very healthy. While not as high in fruit and vegetables as the rest of our contenders, the Swedish diet is overflowing with nutritious berries, rye, fresh fish and responsibly farmed meats.
This nation reaps the nutrition offered by its low-carb diet and is fueled by friendly non-saturated fats.
Australia is a relatively young nation, and so draws culinary influence from all corners of the globe. Modern diets reflect the current climate, and so fast-food culture also plays a part.
As a whole, the Australian diet is varied. Both red and white meat is widely eaten, as well as healthy quantities of fish. And while vegetable intake falls short of recommended, the population makes up for this in terms of fruit. Australians also benefit from the country’s agricultural exports. Citizens enjoy homegrown livestock, wheat, nuts, and barley alongside fruit and vegetables. A balanced diet and a healthy love for the outdoors mean it’s no surprise that Australians are thriving.
Singaporean diet quality has risen in recent years. A 2018 nutrition survey observed improvements in whole grain, fruit, and vegetable consumption across the population. A decline in saturated fats in favour of unsaturated varieties, too, suggests conscious eating is on the rise.
Singapore’s food is as diverse as its culture. It has its roots in Malay and Chinese culture, with Indian and Western influences, too. A typical diet includes protein – such as chicken, fish, or pork – paired with rice or noodles. Tropical fruit is also enjoyed widely, and Southeast Asian food enjoys a plethora of heady spices. If your diet typically lacks essential vitamins, you might consider picking up a Singaporean recipe or two.
The Nordic diet blurs the lines between tradition and sustainability. It promotes locally grown produce as well as eating healthy. Both fresh and saltwater fish are key staples for this country. It’s eaten often, alongside cereals, potatoes, and other whole foods. Red meat isn’t a typical inclusion. Instead, Norwegians opt for game, a leaner source of protein.
Norway’s unique dietary approach hasn’t gone unnoticed. Conscious and informed food choices are key to establishing a healthy lifestyle. Experts agree. When tested against the average Danish diet, the Nordic diet proved almost three times as effective for losing weight (Poulson, S. K., 2013). That’s without counting calories, too.
Israel boasts the lowest recorded figure of diet-related deaths worldwide. It’s not hard to see why. Traditional Israeli cuisine is liberal with whole foods, fruit, and vegetables. Fish is a low-fat and popular choice of protein for this nation that consumes very little meat.
Across the board, Israeli diets are largely unprocessed. Lean meat and local produce balance out the healthy fats of avocados, oil, and nuts.
Aqualibria’s Diet-Centric Approach
At Aqualibria, we’ve always been outspoken about the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle when it comes to taking charge of your health. In fact, we’re right there beside you every step of the way. Before we take on any new client, we’re sure to discuss their lifestyle, goals, and objectives that they wish to achieve through colonic hydrotherapy. We come from a healthcare background, so knowing the full picture in advance ensures that we are equipped to tailor treatment to each patient individually. We educate them about the procedure and advise the healthiest path for them to take post-therapy.
Our role as caregivers isn’t over once a client leaves our clinic. Treatment continues beyond our doors with ongoing support. If you’d like to learn more about our health-centric approach or would simply like to chat about your diet, check out our website or contact us directly. We’d love to hear from you. Our trained specialists are on-hand and always happy to help.