What’s the good news for today? Well, Americans live longer than most. Want the really freaky news? You’d live a lot longer in 42 other countries.
Of course, not many other countries sport a healthcare system that kills 4,000 people a week. But we’ll stick to fun-facts for today’s lesson.
The year – they say – was 1512, when wily adventurer Ponce de León was prepping his Spanish sailing ship to head off to parts unknown. He was in search of a mythical land rumored to possess bubbling waters – waters that were said to guarantee perpetual youth. All you had to do was drink some of it.
So off they went, those gutsy boys, and De Leon and his crew explored nooks & crannies of the Caribbean sea; islands which dotted the East Atlantic; all up and down the Florida coastline. All to no avail. They ended up returning to Spain with not a drop of magical water in their barrels. The Fountain of Youth – wherever it was – was no place they could find. De Leon obviously wasn’t looking in the right place. For anyone interested, we found it when we were 14 years old. It happens to be located in Imperial Valley, California, along the North Shore of the Salton Sea. Who knows? Maybe that’s why we’ve been blessed with surprisingly good health. We swam in an awful lot of its water.
Fast forward to our modern era. Did you know that America’s premier super-spy outfit – the CIA – does much the same thing as Ponce de Leon? Oh, they don’t use ships. They use computer data. And then they assemble their findings – at least those they are willing to share – into the nifty resource they like to call The World Factbook.
Yes indeed. The Central Intelligence Agency has hundreds of folks right this minute, pouring through every death certificate on the planet. They track the causes of death, the gender, the race and a dozen other factors. All of which is compiled to allow them to determine the life expectancy of the entire population of every nation on earth. Their current opinion is that the average life expectancy of the world’s total population is 67.5 years. It is the good old CIA, who determines which of the earth’s societies live longer
In the USA, the average life expectancy is 78.5 years – considerably better than the world’s norm. Most experts attribute this to clean water; better sewage disposal, and advanced medical developments, which can quickly handle conditions that used to kill folks early in life. Meanwhile, nations without advanced medical care report a much shorter life expectancy. As a stark example, people in the Republic of Chad, in central Africa, generally only live until their mid-40s.
So yes, Americans – if they are not shot by a maniac; crunched in high-speed cars on the roadways or killed by errant healthcare – tend to live into their late 70s. But the ugly reality is we rank 43rd on the life-expectancy list. According to the World Factbook, we have a long, long way to go, to come close to the Top 10 nations in longevity. Just for fun, let’s take a look at the healthiest societies in the Solar System:
- Italy: Life Expectancy: 81.8 years
Italians live 3 years and 4 months longer than Americans. Many experts draw a connection between their longevity and diet, which is more than just pasta, meat, and cheese. The Mediterranean diet lowers the tendency for all kinds of diseases. The antioxidants found in olive oil and red wine, for example, lower cholesterol; prevent blood clots, prevent heart disease. Italians also consume spices like basil, oregano, and garlic to flavor their cuisine, while Americans depend heavily on salt. As such, Italians improve their odds against high blood pressure and stroke.
- Australia: Life Expectancy: 82 years
Australia’s long life expectancy can be attributed to several factors, including low obesity and a very active lifestyle by its citizens. But many experts say just as important is their very high-quality healthcare. Of course Aussies almost never shoot each other, either, so that certainly helps
- Hong Kong: Life Expectancy: 82 years
Hong Kong residents can expect to live 4 years longer than Americans. Like Italians, Hong Kong folks can partially attribute their longer lives to their diet –rice, vegetables, and tofu – and an active lifestyle. Hong Kong Chinese experience a far lower obesity level than the United States, and thus, far fewer obesity-related maladies, such as diabetes.
- Guernsey: Life Expectancy: 82 years and 4 months
A tiny island nation in the English Channel, Guernsey is not part of England. Guernsey residents live longer because – thanks to Guernsey’s very low taxes and high-paying jobs – they have more money than most; they are highly civilized towards each other; they have practically no crime; no out-of-control immigrant population; excellent healthcare and great food.
- Andorra: Life Expectancy: 82 years and 6 months
Let us guess: You’ve never heard of Andorra, have you? Well they seldom make the world news because they know how to run a country without chaos and they mind their own business. They almost never tell other countries what to do, even though they certainly could.
There are many reasons why Andorrans outlive almost everybody else. First, this tiny nation – tucked between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains – pushes an active, outdoor lifestyle. Residents actually use hiking trails and ski resorts and terrific parks system. They spend a lot of time outside, which lowers stress levels and consequently, cardiovascular conditions like high blood pressure. It certainly doesn’t hurt that 100% of Andorra’s population is educated. High education levels account for Andorra’s very low unemployment rate. So Andorrans can afford high-quality nutrition and healthcare.
- San Marino: Life Expectancy: 83 years and 1 month
Europe’s 3rd smallest country – only Monaco and the Vatican are smaller – has a life expectancy that bests the USA by 4 years and 6 months. One major reason is San Marino’s work environment. Located on the Italian peninsula, San Marino’s main industries are banking and tourism, with most Sammarinese working in offices.
- Singapore: Life Expectancy: 83 years and 8 months
Great food and a terrific environment contribute to the long lives, in this fast-paced city-state, located on the southern edge of the Malaysian Peninsula. Singapore’s dinner tables center on rice and vegetables, which are rich in nutrients that help keep residents healthy. Singapore’s government also demands a strict code of public behavior. Illegal drug use is absolutely not tolerated, nor are fights, nor are firearms. In the 1980s the government recognized that the nation’s population was aging steadily, and with careful planning, Singapore now features excellent healthcare facilities and programs for the elderly.
- Japan: Life Expectancy: 83 years and 10 months
The Japanese have a right to brag, even though they don’t. They have a stunningly low obesity population of 3%. In the United States we are rapidly approaching 60%. Much of the credit, again, is the food they eat: fresh vegetables, rice, and most importantly, fish. Fresh fish is a rich source of omega-3 acids, which promote healthy blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks. In addition, omega-3 acids encourage healthy brain function, helping prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s. The Japanese also make healthier lifestyle choices: they like to walk.
- Macau: Life Expectancy: 84 years and 3 months
Macau can point to its excellent economy. But why this tiny nation in the South China Sea is so prosperous might surprise you: Gambling is their main source of revenue, and 70% of the money generated by their casinos is invested by the Macau government into public healthcare and law enforcement. There is also absolutely no tolerance for misbehavior in public.
- Monaco: Life Expectancy: 89 years and 7 months
Residents of Monaco live, on average, 11 years longer than the typical American. Monaco shares several aspects with other long-living nations, including an abundance of wealth and excellent healthcare. Monacans also live on a Mediterranean diet. But many say it’s Monaco’s relaxing atmosphere that keeps residents young. Its location along the Mediterranean Sea and clean environment do their part to reduce stress, which can lower immunity and contribute to cardiovascular diseases.
Ponce de León never found any of these places. Pity.
Have a healthy week, readers. And thank you for buying our books. that’s what makes this website possible.