mediterranean diet and cultures
A woman drinks a glass of wine at a restaurant near the beach in Torremolinos, near the southern Spanish city of Malaga, May 13, 2008. Spain Reuters/Jon Nazca

A close look at the lifestyles and eating habits of the healthiest people in the world points to surefire strategies adopted by certain cultures to look good, feel well and live longer. Raise a glass to Japan, Italy, Greece, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand and to some extent, Australia.

The last three abovementioned countries are comprised by big European populations that are surmised to be adhering to healthy diets. Often attributed to longevity is the Mediterranean-type diet that is known to prevent total brain atrophy, as confirmed by a study published in the journal Neurology.

The lifestyle component

Though Australia was lumped among those countries, other scientists and demographers have refrained from citing the Land Down Under as a longevity hot spot. Apart from dietary habits, lifestyle factors weigh heavily on longevity studies undertaken by research scientists. In that respect, Australia’s overall lifestyle patterns were deemed as not conducive to the pursuit of longevity, happiness and anti-ageing, CNN reported.

Topping the list in different surveys of countries with the longest living people are Japan, Costa Rica, Greece and Italy, including other nations with thriving economies falling in the Mediterranean and East Asia. Japan’s society, characterised by strong family ties and stress-relieving activities enjoyed with others, contribute to wellness.

It can be noted that the stress factor may be high for many professionals in fast-paced industrialised countries like Japan, but much of it is counteracted by the greater sense of belonging to the community, work-life balance trends, and high importance placed on family relationship.

The prospects of a longer life are well within people's reach, especially if they keep some pointers in mind. Apart from having a social network, Natural Health Magazine shared the following tips for people from all over the world to live during and beyond the sunset years:

  • Keep moving. Increased physical activity done on a regular basis will add to feeling good and living long.
  • Have a sense of purpose.
  • Combat inflammation. This can be done by eating well and learning to manage stress.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Practice mindfulness in eating and lifestyle habits.
  • Have a sense of spiritual connection.

In his book "The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest," National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner cited that uncovering the world’s best practices in health and longevity can be put to work in people's lives. Optimising one’s lifestyle is a crucial aspect, as exemplified by people who dwell in regions he categorised as the Blue Zones – Japan, Costa Rica, Greece and Italy, among others.