TRADITIONALLY a time for detoxing and gruelling health regimens, those beginning the new year in Spain are luckier than most.
The Mediterranean diet is frequently lauded by health experts but there are many more natural remedies on our doorstep that come with the territory.
Check out the magnificent seven health benefits of an Andalucian lifestyle.
1. 320 days of sunshine
The Costa del Sol gets its name for a reason, and scientists have long linked catching some rays to prolonging life. Two Malaga doctors, Raul J. Andrade and Maribel Lucena, recently said that soaking up Vitamin D can stave off the risk of MS.
2. Food glorious food
Often dubbed the ‘market garden of Spain’, Andalucia abounds with fresh fish and seafood, veggies, fruit, grains and pulses but its olive oil may be the star of the show. The American Food and Drug Administration prescribes a daily dose of 1½ tablespoons to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
3. Europe’s best healthcare
A Bloomberg analysis revealed that Spain’s public health service is the best in Europe and third best globally. Taking into account efficiency, as well as cost, the analysis put Spain way ahead of the UK, just behind Singapore and Hong Kong.
4. A sporting chance
Exercise can reduce your risk of major illnesses like cancer and heart disease by up to 50% and decrease the likelihood of an early death by 30%, according to the NHS. And in Andalucia, home of the outdoor lifestyle, you won’t need to go far for hiking, swimming, paddle tennis, Gaelic football, golf and even horse riding.
5. Curative costas
With over 1,000km of coastline, many Andalucians are hardwired to love the ocean – something scientists call the ‘blue mind’. Dr Thomas W. Ferkol is one of those who extols the sea’s benefits, claiming salt clears lungs and is antibacterial, while beach life can improve sleep patterns.
6. Soothing siestas
It is one of Spain’s most enduring images, especially to foreign eyes, but a siesta can lower blood pressure and is part of a natural sleep cycle. According to the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians, it should be no longer than a 30-minute catnap taken on a sofa or chair.
7. Red red wine
Every year the benefits of a ‘small’ amount of red wine are proclaimed, it being proven that ‘vino tinto’ is packed full of antioxidants. Now the latest study by a Spanish research team, in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, also finds it can reduce tooth decay and gum disease.