Are you healthy where you live? A few days ago after the celebration of Buddha’s birthday in South Korea there was a major yellow dust storm that enveloped most if not all of the Korean Peninsula(* from the west to east coast). In conversations with my expat friends, my boyfriend, and fellow Koreans I know I felt concerned about the invisible, but possible future health effects that they might suffer due to their exposure.
When I too lived in Korea I was concerned about my health. But, not due to the occasional yellow dust storms that often originate through factory pollution carried overseas from mainland China. I actually was more concerned with the significant changes to my daily diet moving to Asia country. As many people know food diets/nutrients vary coast by coast, country by country. In the U.S. the average Americans diet/nutrients are primarily consumed from (various) grains & wheat/ dairy/and meat based while in many Asian countries, including South Korea, the average Asian diet/nutrients are primarily vegetable, fish, and (white) rice based. But, during my transition into eating more of an Asia-centered diet I discovered that the general food diet among Asians was considered to be one of the healthiest food diets for one’s overall health. Living in Korea, as well as, traveling through Asia I also learned that healthy living, especially eating healthy, was greatly tied to the environment that one resides in.
According to the recent Bloomberg Global Health Index that determines healthy living through several factors such as: life expectancy, health risks, the availability of clean water, malnutrition, causes of death, etc. one’s environment plays a major role in an individual and populations overall health that includes overall (regional) diets. Based on the Bloomberg index report the 10 healthiest environments, also viewed as healthiest countries included: Italy, Iceland, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, Spain, Japan, Sweden, Israel and Luxembourg.
Possessing some of the best: country-based health care systems, healthy food/ regional diets, and some of the world’s cleanest & unscathed environments these top 10 countries also possess some of the longest-living centennials in the world. While some might say that genetics play an important part in the centennial population all of the above factors mentioned significantly contribute to the longevity & health of the regional population.
Living the 34th(U.S.) healthiest environment I believe that one’s living environment does contribute to one’s health in the long run. However, measuring the positive and negative health effects of one’s regional area varies as all environments gradually change. Taking this into account how we measure healthy living should be based continuously on how we practice healthy living. Health is becoming a core part of how many countries are developing with some nations providing universal and pristine health care to all citizens, others are striving to rely solely on locally sourced foods, and more are working with local grass-root & non-profit organizations to off-set or re-construct their own polluted environments.
It remains to be seen in the next five years what healthy environments/ countries earn the same rankings. It remains to be seen what regional areas and populations remain health conscious and retain healthy (regional) food diets. It also remains to be seen what future health concerns might in turn change or alter the several factors (i.e. health risks) that determine healthy living according to the Bloomberg index. But, one thing we can all be sure of is that our overall health though partially determined by our own chosen health diets and lifestyles(*speaking of first world/developed nations) is widely dependent upon our surroundings.
Being conscious of our choice in healthy living provides us with more freedoms to choose a healthy life and maybe even a healthier environment for ourselves. Unfortunately, this is not the case for poorer/under-developed nations that rank quite high on the Bloomberg index. For these nations healthy living is not a choice, but a life desire. I know this since my own family at one time did not have a choice in healthy living. For such individuals and nations healthy living is the primary focus in the lives of the people. Though consciously aware of the changing landscape of the environment the focus of the population is simply living.
In recent years I have learned in my personal life and travels that healthy living is more than simply eating healthy. Healthy living is tied to not just one regional area. In truth our overall health and our overall lives are greatly influenced by the environments we are born into, the environments we may be forced to live in, and the environments (if able) we can choose to reside.
Are you healthy where you live? What do you believe is most important in the environment that you live in? Air and water quality? Or maybe healthy (regional) local food diets? Share your thoughts below.