Spain is good for you. Before you accuse us of bias, we are not the only ones saying that. Much to the dismay of our doctor – who is technically unemployed these days, but is reportedly well on his way to sharpening the world record for playing solitaire.
Medical journal The Lancet named Spain the healthiest country in Europe. To that end, The Lancet collected data for 20 years between 1990 and 2010. The bottom line: the average Spaniard reaches the ripe old age of 81.4 years, of which he feels, on average, 70.9 chicken. Belgium is not in the top 10 healthiest European countries, according to The Lancet. Should that be surprising in a country that makes casting concrete and spreading exhaust fumes national hobbies?
In 2019, Spain rose to the top spot on the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, a health ranking of 169 global countries. Bloomberg includes factors such as life expectancy, access to potable water and decent sanitation, tobacco use, high blood pressure and obesity in the population. In the previous edition of the index, in 2017, Italy led and Spain ranked only sixth.
Speaking of life expectancy, Spaniards are dying at an increasingly blessed age. Nowhere in the European Union are people getting older. Globally, in terms of gritty oldies, Spain has to beat only Japan and Switzerland. But not for long. The University of Washington calculated last year that the average Hispanic will spend nearly 86 years on our globe by 2040. With that, Spain would overtake Japan.
Needless to say: Spain has tapped into an endless source of life elixir. Spaniards possess all the keys to a long, healthy and happy life:
The climate on Spain’s southern coast approaches perfection
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the southern coast of Spain – specifically the Costa Blanca – has a “near-perfect climate.” Well, they don’t have to convince us of that. The mild winters and lack of rain ensure that the Spanish white coast is pleasant all year round.
Here, you should never have to tackle the driveway in the morning with a snow shovel and half a kilo of road salt. No, stay in your bed a little longer and let the sun’s falling rays kiss you awake. The sun always shines on the Costa Blanca. Specifically, 2,700 to 3,000 hours or 320 days per year. This not only has a positive effect on your spirits, it is also healthy. Vitamin D obtained from sunshine allows your body to absorb calcium, necessary for healthy bones and muscles.
In Belgium, you can never really put your umbrella away or there’s the next rainstorm. No, then you are better off on the Costa Blanca, where there is 300 to 425 millimeters of precipitation annually. That drier climate means that Spaniards suffer less from respiratory problems and respiratory diseases.
Hispanic national character is optimistic, stress levels are low
Think of all that swarthy music that makes you spontaneously reach for a razor blade. Think of The Cure, Joy Division, The Smiths, bands that view life through inky black glasses. Where do all these depressed blackjackets come from? From the rainy north of England, the region that is always soaked. This is not a coincidence. Those who are always indoors naturally start producing less happiness hormone. And then the dark clouds soon arrive — and not just outside.
In countries with low cloud cover, residents have significantly fewer depressions. Imagine life in Belgium, always covered by a pack of clouds. How so many people so often feel inferior there – a nagging sense of unease – without necessarily having a good identifiable reason. You will find much less of that in Spain. Suicide rates are much lower there than in most of Europe. The Spaniards are not going to sulk in a corner. No, they whistle Vamos a la playa between their teeth and pull up to the beach. If necessary, with a guitar – not to cover Nirvana, but to play a happy tune. Not minor, but major. A celebration of life.
After all, Spaniards know how to throw a party like no other. Or do you think it’s a coincidence that there are so many ferias in Spain? Or that Ibiza is the epicenter of electronic dance music? They are herd animals who like to surround themselves with people they like. Social life is certainly not on the back burner in Spain. Sipping a glass of wine on a terrace with friends or hanging out with the family – Spaniards love to talk, listen and laugh. You do not need to have studied medicine for seven years to feel that such is healthier than just rotting away in your little room. Social activities are healing for the general mental state.
Added to that, stress flows off of you like water off a duck. All worries and daily concerns are suddenly far away. Spaniards prefer a serene, simple lifestyle. Less stress, more enjoyment. Above all, they cherish the small moments. Instead of running all the time, they prefer to take time for a cup of coffee, with friends or on their own. Instead of quickly cramming their sandwiches down their throats, their lunches sometimes take hours. Which automatically brings us to next point:
No diet is as healthy (and delicious!) as the Mediterranean
Who eats better than the Spanish? Doctors praise the Mediterranean diet as the healthiest in the world. That means: lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of olive oil, soups with legumes (yellow split peas, broad beans, string beans, chickpeas and lentils), lots of nuts, cheese, yogurt, honey and red wine. Fish and poultry in moderation, and very little red meat complete the diet. Mediterranean cuisine is more than a hype – people have been eating this way here since time immemorial.
Joe Harris already knew it: “Drink red wine, you’ll forget all your worries.” The antioxidants in wine are a kind of natural detoxifier of the body. Olive oil is another crucial part of the Spanish diet, a source of healthy monounsaturated fats. And which do not lead to heart disease, cholesterol and high blood pressure like their nefarious cousins, the saturated fats. Mediterranean cuisine is also an ally against stroke, diabetes and dementia.
Spaniards eat almost everything fresh. Fruits and vegetables as well as meat and fish come straight from the market. As a result, Hispanics gulp down little chemical goo – no processed foods, canned goods, herbi or other pesticides. In Spain, you can perfectly follow the line to the farms where the food comes from. Even the refrigerated counters in supermarkets contain mostly meat from just down the road. Honest, fresh, local and organic.
The warm climate ensures that the growing season for fruits and vegetables is long. And you taste that. Sink your teeth into a Spanish tomato and you’ll never want one from the Belgian supermarket again. This is really fresh. If you eat seafood and fish on the Costa Blanca, it may have been brought in that day itself. No fish here that has been soaking in a bowl of brackish water for two days.
Lunch is the most important meal of the day, followed by a light meal late in the evening. It is more than a diet, rather a lifestyle. It helps that Mediterranean cuisine is finger-licking good, which makes it easier to live a healthy lifestyle.
The water has a purifying effect
A study by the European Center for Environment and Human Health at England’s University of Exeter proved that people living near the coast generally have better health than natives. Proximity to the sea seemingly does wonders for health.
Maybe it has something to do with the salt water. This has properties that strengthen the immune system and arm our bodies against viruses and bacteria. That is why the Mediterranean environment is so beneficial for people with rheumatism, asthma, chronic bronchitis, skin and respiratory problems. The University of Alicante found that out.
In places like Torrevieja, the large salt lakes amplify that effect. The high salt concentration there, combined with the temperature, creates a microclimate. The natural mud from the lakes is good for skin, joints and overall health.
Health care is tiptop
Spanish public health care is free for everyone, including registered residents from abroad. So no expensive insurance here. The level of health care is high, with much attention paid to prevention. As a result, the incidence of heart disease and cancer deaths has declined over the last decade.
An active lifestyle keeps bodies young
So much sunshine invites you to be busy, to spend late into the evening outdoors instead of creeping behind antisocial screens. In Spain, an active lifestyle is not an imposed obligation; rather, it is something that comes naturally. You may have such good intentions in Belgium, but you may not take the car when it is raining cats and dogs outside.
In Spain, you automatically walk more – to the convenience store for your newspaper, to the nearest terrace for a coffee, to the beach to stretch your legs and get a breath of fresh air, you name it. Even fifteen minutes of walking a day makes a world of difference to your health. Movement keeps the knees lubricated, the bodies young and makes you feel good in your.
In addition to hiking, you can of course swim, hike or fish in abundance. Or try something new. How about golfing or kayaking? With so many sunny days, it would be too crazy to stay home.
Also want to go sniff the healthy Spanish air? Gold Estates is happy to help you get started. Let us know your wishes and we will work with you to find your dream home under the sun.