April 7, 2015
Last Updated:
March 4, 2021

7 Health Tips From Around the World

Did you know it’s World Health Day? One of the best things about the Integrative Nutrition community is that we span over 120 countries. Our students and graduates are bursting with enthusiasm to spread a ripple effect of health and happiness to as many people as possible, and their unique approaches often reflect their cultures and countries.

We can learn so much about living a healthy, well-balanced life by simply looking to other cultural norms. Health is about so much more than the food on your plate, which we call secondary food.

Your well-being is deeply connected to having a fulfilling career, nurturing relationships, a rich spiritual practice, and regular exercise. We call this primary food; it’s more important to your health than what you eat.

To celebrate both World Health Day and primary food, we’re giving you seven tips for ultimate health and wellness from around the globe.

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  1. Italy. Aperitivo is a very popular ritual in Italy. It’s a small drink and snack that people have right after work, before having dinner. This might be a glass of wine or other small cocktail, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you eat or drink; it matters that you take the time to put a period at the end of your day and give yourself some space to relax and connect before beginning your evening.
  2. SwedenFika. Similar to Italy’s aperitivo, Swedish people gather around 10am and 3pm daily for a coffee, tea or smoothie and a small pastry or other snack. This is a time for connecting and relaxing with no real objective. Both aperitivo and fika are great examples of primary and secondary food coming together. 
  3. SpainSiestas, or afternoon naps, are proven to be a great way to reboot your body, reduce stress, improve alertness, and help cardiovascular functions. Even 15 minutes will benefit you greatly. Sleep is one of our favorite forms of primary food – count us in!
  4. Denmark. You know the warm, cozy feeling you get snuggling next to a fire with a good book and a loved one by your side? The Danes call this hyggelig, and many people credit it with helping them get through the dark, winters. Hyggelig is simply about enjoying the good things in life with good people – primary food at its best.
  5. Japan. As in many Asian cultures, chopsticks are central to Japanese tradition. The thing that many people don’t realize is that chopsticks are likely to slow down your eating pace and therefore reduce how much food you consume. The Japanese have a phrase, hara hachi bu, meaning eat until you are 80% full. If you’re looking to improve your digestion and avoid overeating, experiment with using chopsticks. 
  6. Turkey. The Turkish are famous for their public hammams, or baths. These centers are used for relaxation and deep cleansing of the internal organs through sweating. Spending time in hot baths and/or steam rooms improves detoxification, circulation, digestion, skin health, and so much more. 
  7. Argentina. While yerba maté tea has become popular in the United States in the past few years, it’s been the focal point of a bonding ritual in Argentina for centuries. Tomando maté, which simply means “drinking maté,” represents community and hospitality, and friends and family pass around a gourd of this energizing tea.

Which of these traditions, tips, and tools are you most excited to experiment with? What are some health and wellness traditions that you grew up with?

We can’t wait to hear from you in the comments below! 

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