Eating Patterns and Longevity in Scandinavia: Lessons from the World’s Healthiest Populations

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Eating Patterns and Longevity in Scandinavia: Lessons from the World's Healthiest Populations

Scandinavians are renowned for their great health and well-being. Nations like Norway and Sweden routinely rank in the top ten for health and have an average life expectancy of over 80 years. Learn more. Eating patterns and longevity in Scandinavia: Lessons from the world’s healthiest populations.

The secret to Scandivian longevity lies in their diet and lifestyle. Folks who live in the Scandinavian subregion typically follow a diet rich in fish, vegetables, seasonal fruits, and whole grains. This enhances inhabitants’ well-being and helps them lead active healthy lifestyles.

Folks from nations like Finland are more likely to eat together, too. This subtle difference gives Scandivians an important social boost that enhances happiness and increases well-being. This can also combat memory loss in later life and ensures that folks are able to lead a full life in their golden years.

Diet

Following a Scandinavian diet is one of the easiest ways to quickly boost your health and well-being. Based on a high intake of healthy whole grains, fat-rich fish, and homegrown vegetables, the Scandinavian diet is designed to give you all the nutrients you need to look and feel great. The Scandinavian diet also comes with benefits like:

  • Immunity: Eating plenty of whole foods and healthy fats can improve your gut’s microbiome and help combat inflammation. This can make a world of difference if you’re used to eating a refined, processed diet that is high in saturated fats.
  • Stress: Following the Scandinavian diet is also proven to help combat stress. Foods that are high in omega-3 help regulate your cortisol levels and support your mood.
  • Depression: Good food nourishes your spirit and helps you feel happier. This is because a nutrient-rich diet supports healthy gut functioning which is associated with improved mood.

    Eating Patterns and Longevity in Scandinavia: Lessons from the World’s Healthiest Populations, article continues below image.

Eating Patterns and Longevity in Scandinavia: Lessons from the World's Healthiest Populations
Based on a high intake of healthy whole grains, fat-rich fish, and homegrown vegetables, the Scandinavian diet is designed to give you all the nutrients you need to look and feel great. Photo: Sons of Norway

Eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet can help you adopt a healthier lifestyle, too. You’re far more likely to go on a post-work run or early morning swim if you’re fueled with a combination of healthy fats, lean proteins, and whole-food carbohydrates like sourdough.

Following a Nordic-style diet has been proven to counteract some neurological disorders, too. This is echoed by research published in Frontiers in Nutrition, which found that those who follow Nordic diets see improvements in cognition and neuropsychological function while lowering the risk of stroke and depression.

This can help you lead a longer, fuller life well into old age. This is important, as taking steps to prevent memory loss in old age can meaningfully improve your quality of life. In addition to hobbies like reading more and playing memory games, eating a diet rich in fish and seafood is plentiful in vitamin B and omega-3s and will help you stay sharp for longer. Similarly, green vegetables offer fiber that can enhance cognitive function.

Alcohol

Scandinavians are associated with a history of beer drinking and mead festivals. Today, however, nations like Sweden, Denmark, and Finland drink significantly less than the rest of the world. This is largely due to a number of policy changes that have regulated monopoly systems and protected young people from booze. This has helped educators communicate the risks associated with alcohol and has reduced consumption.

Eating Patterns and Longevity in Scandinavia: Lessons from the World's Healthiest Populations
Strict customs regulations for ravelers arriving in Norway.

Following the example of Scandinavian countries reducing the amount of alcohol you drink can make a huge difference to your health, well-being, and longevity. The negative health effects of drinking alcohol can impact the following:

  • CNS: Drinking suppresses your central nervous system and impairs your cognitive abilities. This is why drink is so commonly associated with serious accidents.
  • Digestion: Beer, wine, and spirits interfere with your ability to digest food properly and may lead to future issues like GERD and acid reflux.
  • Circulation: Alcohol is associated with higher instances of stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, and cardiomyopathy.
  • Immunity: You’re far more likely to fall ill once you’ve had some booze to drink. This is because alcohol undermines your autoimmune response and interferes with your ability to fight illnesses.
  • Renal System: Booze damages your internal organs and may lead to issues like dehydration. This can be a huge issue if you’re already fatigued or are on medication.

The health consequences of drinking alcohol regularly far outweigh any potential benefits of easier socialization and reduced stress. Curbing your consumption gives your immune system a much-needed boost and can improve the efficacy of your circulation. That’s why Scandinavians only drink in moderation, despite the fact they are social eaters who often dine together.

Well-being

Healthy foods and low alcohol consumption put you in a prime position to lead a healthy, happy life. You can use the energy you gain from eating a rounded diet to follow some other Scandinavian traditions that boost longevity, including:

  • Year-round bathing;
  • Spas and massages;
  • Sustainable eating based on seasonal foods;
  • Hiking, surfing, skiing, and cycling.

    Eating Patterns and Longevity in Scandinavia: Lessons from the World’s Healthiest Populations, article continues below image.

Eating Patterns and Longevity in Scandinavia: Lessons from the World's Healthiest Populations
Year-round bathins is a popular Scandinavian activity. Photo: Tripadvisor.

These activities and habits will enhance your happiness and help you get more from later life. Regularly taking spa days and massages can boost your physical health and help you destress after a tough week at work.

Eating Patterns and Longevity in Scandinavia: Lessons from the World’s Healthiest Populations – Conclusion

The Scandinavian diet supports health, well-being, and longevity. It also gives you the energy you need to partake in other health-boosting activities like hiking, skiing, and yoga. You can follow in the footsteps of Scandivains today by reducing your alcohol consumption, increasing your fish intake, and sticking to whole foods whenever possible.

Eating Patterns and Longevity in Scandinavia: Lessons from the World's Healthiest Populations
Ainsley Lawrence

Eating Patterns and Longevity in Scandinavia: Lessons from the World’s Healthiest Populations, written dedicatedly for Daily Scandinavian by Ainsley Lawrence. Ainsley is a regular contributor to Daily Scandinavian. She is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. Ainsley is interested in better living. through technology and education. She is frequently lost in a good book.

Feature image (on top): © Brooke Lark / Unsplash

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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.

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