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A guide to well-being in Italy

It doesn’t matter where you live in the world, your well-being should always be a priority — thankfully, Italy makes this an easy feat.

Once you relocate to Italy, you’ll soon recognise the benefits of healthy eating. Food is important to everyone, but the Italians tend to take the importance of mealtimes and food up a notch. In fact, many workers still return home at lunchtime to enjoy a meal with their families. One of the main bonuses of living and working in Italy is that you’ll be able to take advantage of the country’s fantastic local food.

Dieticians have been singing the praises of the healthy Italian, Mediterranean Diet for decades. With ample supplies of fresh vegetables and fruit, olive oil, grains and pulses as well as access to a range of fish, including tuna, sardines and mackerel that are rich in omega 3, it’s easy to eat healthily in Italy. And studies carried out by specialists recommend that even a glass a day of local red wine can also be good for you. Italian food is varied - pasta and pizza can be eaten, but only in moderation. Italians don’t eat pasta as a main meal, rather as a 2nd course before the main dish, which will consist of fresh meat or fish and fresh vegetables.

If you want to reap the benefits of this local bounty, ditch the supermarket and stroll down to your local market. Be prepared to haggle, and enjoy the whole shopping experience. With so much local produce on offer, you can rest assured that the displays of fresh fish, fruit, olives, lemons and an assortment of delicious salads and vegetables, many of which you’ll probably not even recognise — rampion, similar to a radish, is just one of these. Don’t be surprised to see swordfish and other exotic delights on the fish stall. The Italians tend to keep the very best of their fresh goods to themselves - all are healthy and good for you. Once the stallholders recognise you as a regular they’ll soon start saving the day’s best buys for you.

The benefits of this diet are evidenced in part by the decrease in ‘coronary heart disease mortality’ in Italy between 1980 and 2000. Efficient treatment of this condition was partly responsible for this decrease, as was the Mediterranean diet. A 2016 study carried out by the UK’s Medical Research Council revealed that if the Brits adopted the Mediterranean style of eating then 19,000 deaths per year from strokes and heart disease could be avoided.

Sardinia, off the west coast of Italy can claim to have some of the longest living residents in the world. The village of 102 year old Zelinda Paglieno, who enjoys a daily glass of red wine, can number three neighbours who are also over 100, and the village (Esterzili) only has a population of 600.

Exercise is easy

Partly surrounded by the sea, with a terrain that comprises hills, mountains, as well as some beautiful wooded landscapes, there are some fantastic options for exercise in Italy. Even if you simply take a healthy walk around your town after your evening meal, you’ll be doing yourself some good. The Italian weather helps - it’s far easier to go out for a stroll in the summer in Italy, than in rainier or more arid parts of the planet.

In 2016 the Italian Tribune published figures from a Bloomberg report that revealed that Italy is the 2nd healthiest country in the world. Partly due to the country’s efficient health service, partly due to the Mediterranean diet, and partly owing to the hilly terrain that means many Italians exercise daily without even realising that they are. As they say in Italy La salute primo di tutto or ‘your health should always come first’.

Essential to your well-being is having access to quality health services. Our guide explains everything you need to know about health care in Italy.1


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