10 Health Secrets From Around the World
You've heard that the quiet practice of meditation can improve your stress and mental health, but there's an even longer list of benefits to this Indian mainstay. Studies show that meditation can improve cellular health and reduce blood pressure, pain response, and depression. "The relaxation response [from meditation] helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart rate, breathing, and brain waves," said Herbert Benson, MD, who's well-known for three decades of research of the health effects of meditation.
Your personal routine to stay healthy might seem universal, but there are so many different ways people around the world strive to live a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically. From acupuncture in China to a special herbal tea in Argentina, people of different cultures have some serious wellness tricks up their sleeves. These are 10 of the top practices that people stick to as part of their health regimen.
Originating in China, acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years, and now it's popular among many Americans. If you're skeptical or wary of the benefits of thin needles protruding your skin, consider some of the research-backed positives; regular sessions can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, help you shed pounds, and speed up the production of neurotransmitters associated with relaxation, improving quality of sleep.
Greece: The Mediterranean Diet
All that hype you've heard about the Mediterranean Diet is true - eating a diet that focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and poultry, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive oil can do wonders for your health. If you eat like the Greeks do, you'll lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and eye complications. Plus, focusing on these Mediterranean staples will keep your weight in check.
Museli was invented by a Swiss doctor over a hundred years ago for patients in his hospital, and now it's popular to serve in the country as a filling breakfast or light dinner. A combination of rolled oats, grains, seeds, and dried fruit, fiber-rich muesli is supereasy to make on your own.
Egypt: Cupping Therapy
A form of alternative medicine that dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures, cupping therapy is the process of creating suction to mobilize blood flow and promote healing. The British Cupping Society is a main proponent of the therapy and argues that it can treat skin problems, high blood pressure, and blood disorders like anemia. However, many health care societies are unsure of this age-old treatment's benefits. "Reports of successful treatment with cupping are mainly anecdotal rather than from research studies," said the American Cancer Society.
South America: Mate Tea
Mate tea is made by steeping the ground leaves and stems of the South American yerba mate plant, and it's officially declared the "National Infusion" of Argentina. Rich in antioxidants, the caffeinated tea is said to increase metabolism, aid in digestion, and help support cardiovascular health.
Russia: Banya (Sauna)
The Russian banya, or sauna, is a relaxation and weight-loss method that many people swear by. Depending on your weight, they believe you can burn between 300 calories in a sweat session. Plus, sauna visits can improve your skin, increase circulation, strengthen your immune system, reduce respiratory ailments, and balance your mind and emotions.
Poland: Discouraging Eating Out
People in Poland typically spend just five percent of their family budget on eating out, while the average American family spends about half of their food budget on dining out, according to the United States Healthful Food Council.
Japan: Power Naps
The last time you took a nap during a weekday was probably in kindergarten, but in Japan, power naps during work are encouraged as part of a healthy lifestyle and as an aid to a better work performance. One Osaka-based company called Hugo Inc. allows employees to take a 30-minute nap any time between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
The Netherlands: Biking
Biking is one of the main forms of transportation in the Netherlands. In fact, BBC News reports there are more bicycles than residents in the country! With its many cycling paths, protected intersections, and bicycle parking, the Netherlands makes it easy for the 31 percent of people listing a bike as their main mode of transportation. Some paths are even completely segregated from roads for cars. The active lifestyle is just one of the contributing factors to why the Netherlands is reportedly the healthiest country in the world.