Japanese people reap the rewards of their luscious gardens, which are said to have healing benefits.
We all know it’s important to eat our five a day, get our daily dose of exercise, and make time to relax and support our mental health. But some countries seem to be leaps and bounds ahead of others when it comes to keeping in tip-top condition. So what’s their secret?
We take a peek at the leaderboard for the healthiest countries around the globe, to find out which population is coming out on top – and, more importantly, discover what they’re doing right.
We’ve compiled a list of the world’s healthiest countries based on life expectancy.
Using data from the OECD, we were able to see which populations are living the longest on average. Some of our data also focus on Blue Zone regions, which are areas around the world with the most centenarians (people that live to be over 100 years old).
Once we collated the data, we looked closely at each country to see whether there were any factors that might have influenced these results, including culture, diet, exercise, and healthcare.
Average Life Expectancy (Years)
Japan Life expectancy: 84.7
The most obvious reason why the Japanese population has such a long life expectancy is down to the country’s traditional diet, which typically consists of rice, fish, vegetables, seaweed, Japanese pickles, green tea, and miso (a kind of fermented soybean product). Unlike a lot of Western diets, this diet has a very low intake of red meat, which has been linked to health issues such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Japanese culture also takes mental well-being into consideration. The Slow Movement, which emerged in Japan in the late 90s, encourages people to stay connected with others, as well as with nature. The movement acknowledges the richness of rural life and communities.
The islands at the southern end of Japan have historically been known for longevity. Okinawans typically have less cancer, heart disease, and dementia than Americans – and women there live longer than any women on the planet.
The Blue Zone suggests that Japan’s greatest secret is a strong dedication to friends and family. Okinawans maintain a powerful social network called a ‘moai’ – a lifelong circle of friends that supports people well into old age.