As opposed to Americans, who champion their country as the greatest in the world because “it just is,” Italians actually have facts to back up their claims. A number of daily habits, customs and institutions are contributing factors to the country’s high standard of living. The same case may also pertain to other countries in the region like Portugal and France, as well.
Keep in mind that despite its problems, Italy has the world’s eighth largest economy, which is also third largest in the Eurozone. It can and should be considered an affluent country.
According to the latest World Health Organization Statistics, life expectancy in Italy is 80.3 years for males and 85.2 years for females, and total life expectancy is 82.9 years, which lists Italy as fourth in World Life Expectancy ranking. Italians are also very healthy. “Viva l’Italia e gli Italiani,” which means “long live Italy and the Italians,” is true now more than ever.
Additionally, Italy beats the United States in virtually every major health category, including life expectancy and infant mortality. It has, along with every other civilized nation except the United States, a system of universal health care coverage that invariably improves living standards across the board.
Not only is basic access to superb Italian doctors affordable to all, but cost control and subsidy measures are in place for extras including necessary medications, prescriptions and surgeries. Therefore, Italians will not go broke if they fall sick and will not carry heavy financial burdens in order to stay healthy.
Differences in Italian and American health care systems are obvious but they come from decisions usually made by politicians. Italian values and American values have similarities on an individual level.
In the end, Italians want to enjoy life to the max, a desire American culture seems to devalue at the expense of productivity. The average workweek for Italians is slightly shorter, and they have far more vacation time, as well as mandated employer-paid family and maternity leave.
Some conjecture that leisure is the basis of advancement, innovation and arguably happiness. It also can lead to less stress and a lower risk of heart attack and heart disease, among other ailments.
Furthermore, the Italian “pissolino” or “siesta” as they call it in Spain (a short, mid-afternoon nap) has proven to have short and long-term health benefits for its advocates.
In short, Italians have an increased alertness and productivity, which leads to a reduction in the number of mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 percent and alertness by 100 percent. In the long-term, it can help combat memory loss, prevent caffeine dependency and foster creativity.
Undeniably, Italians have a tremendous passion for drinking wine and dining well. “Life is too short for average meals,” they say. Studies have proven the wonders of a Mediterranean diet’s for one’s health and longevity. This includes, but is not limited to, lower risk of stroke, developing certain types of cancers, heart disease, type two diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
GMO’s in Italy? They do not exist. Fast Food? It is few and far between. Fast food restaurants are very often concentrated in tourist areas because Italians, on the whole, view the concept as contrary to what dining is supposed to be all about: the time of day when you unwind with good company or loved ones, and celebrate life and the fruit of your labors. Food is a religion in these parts, and it is for the better.
In the United States we stand to gain a lot from incorporating what they seem to have gotten right as a necessary complement to what makes America an exceptional nation.
Just as we have greatly benefited from the Italians through their pioneering architecture, design, cooking, fashion, romance and sport, it has come time to follow suit in bringing a little more “dolce” to America.
Modern Health Perspectives