Sweden is a country of long-livers. At the same time, most people of retirement age lead an active life, and many 80-year-olds are not even 50. Swedish gerontologist Bertil Marklund reveals 10 secrets of good health of his countrymen.
According to research results cited by Marklund in his book “10 golden rules of health”, genes influence life expectancy only by 25%, but the remaining 75% is determined by our lifestyle. From this the author concludes: “Each of us chooses how he wants to grow old or how not to grow old.
Having analyzed the lifestyle of Swedish pensioners, the author identified the main secrets of their longevity. And what is most valuable, there is nothing difficult in his recommendations – neither ingenious recipes for green smoothies, nor complex asanas from yoga. All it takes is a little common sense and a little willpower.
1. GET ACTIVE
Swedes are a sporty nation. Half the country goes jogging in the morning and schools have a special sports day at the end of February to give families the opportunity to take a trip to the mountains for skiing or snowboarding.
Physical activity reduces stress levels and stimulates the production of happiness hormones. However, it is useless and even harmful to exercise 5 times a week. Just try to walk or bike more, play soccer or hockey with your kids, go dancing or rock climbing.
Let movement be fun. This is the only way physical activity will become a healthy habit. It’s better for the body than occasional, grueling workouts.
2. DON’T WORRY ABOUT NOTHING
Dr. Marklund reminds us that “stress reactions are necessary for our survival.” However, if you freak out every time you can’t find your house keys in your bag or someone cuts you off on the road, that’s a bad symptom.
You have to learn to control your emotions and not let minor annoyances knock you out. There are no universal recipes. Some people just need to take a deep breath and count to 10. Others may need the help of a psychoanalyst or anger management training. In either case, ask loved ones to point out to you when you “get worked up over nothing.
3. SLEEP WELL, BUT NOT TOO MUCH
At night the body recovers. Chronic lack of sleep immediately affects the appearance, weakens the immune system, leads to obesity and various diseases. But sleeping more than 10 hours a night is also harmful. According to research conducted by Harvard, it negatively affects the quality of sleep and leads to memory problems.
4. LOOK FOR THE SUN
Sweden is not the warmest country. But its residents have learned to make the most out of every day and do not sit at home or in the office when the weather is nice. At least, everyone tries to spend a lunch break on the terrace of a cafe or in a park.
Everyone knows that vitamin D is produced in the body under the influence of sunlight. And it is vital for normal functioning of the nervous system, strong bones and immunity.
In addition, vitamin D is not the last place in the prevention of cancer, diabetes, depression, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis. However, you should never be exposed to direct sunlight all day or go to a tanning bed. It provokes photo-aging of skin and can even cause cancer.
5. EAT A BALANCED AND VARIED DIET IN MODERATION
It’s useless to go on diets or do days of dieting. Reduce your intake of refined sugar, processed foods, sausages and smoked meats. Rather focus on vegetable protein, foods rich in essential fatty acids (oily fish, vegetable oils), antioxidants, and vitamins.
Sweden is rich in fish and seafood: they even eat salmon and herring for breakfast. Besides that, Scandinavians respect vegetables, first of all various root vegetables, and whole-grain bread and dairy products. Meat is not forbidden, but it is better not every day.
6. DRINK WATER AND … COFFEE
Hydration is necessary for the body to function properly. A quick reminder: the body is made up of 60% water, and every day it loses up to 1.5 liters of moisture. If it is not replenished, cells cannot renew properly, nerve impulses run slower, and the body ages faster.
We can replenish our hydration not only with clean drinking water. Moisture from fruits and vegetables, liquid soups, tea and coffee also count.
By the way, lately, doctors are increasingly talking about the benefits of coffee. So, Bertil Marklund cites data in the book, proving that caffeine and antioxidants of coffee contribute to reducing the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The author reminds us that Sweden has the second highest per capita consumption of coffee in the world. Every Swede has a coffee machine at home. The average Swede drinks 3-4 cups of the drink a day, and some drink more.
The following legend is popular among the inhabitants of this country. In the second half of the 18th century, by order of King Gustav III of Sweden, an experiment was conducted to study the effect of coffee on health. The subjects were two twin brothers sentenced to death for crimes. One had to drink three cups of coffee a day and the other the same amount of tea. The king did not live to see the end of the experiment, but the brothers lived a long life. The first to die at the age of 83 was the one who drank tea.
7. KEEP YOUR WEIGHT
Being overweight leads to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. That said, according to Dr. Marklund, in order not to get fat, just eat slowly, never take supplements and choose healthy foods.
8. TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH
Oral hygiene affects the entire circulatory system. Bleeding gums or inflammation can cause serious illness and even blood poisoning. So remember to visit your dentist twice a year, brush your teeth thoroughly and avoid eating too many sweets.
9. THINK POSITIVELY
A bad mood leads to depression, exhaustion, and chronic fatigue. The good news for those whose glass is always half empty: pessimism is curable. And there are a great many ways. You need to surround yourself with positive people, spend more time with your loved ones, help those in need, try to make the world a better place and celebrate all the good things that happen to you.
For example, try during the week every day to write in a notebook three things that made you smile kindly. And very soon you’ll realize that there are not few reasons to be happy.
10. LEAD AN ACTIVE SOCIAL LIFE
People who often experience loneliness die earlier. They have a high percentage of the protein fibrogen in their blood. This protein causes blood clots to form, which lead to the development of cardiovascular and other diseases.
So meet up with old friends more often and make new ones, get together for family dinners or come up with a hobby that will help you be among like-minded people more often. Dance lessons, chess, pottery or painting classes are good options.