Dance, Diet, and Democracy: A Swedish Recipe for Longevity

Dance, Diet, and Democracy: A Swedish Recipe for Longevity

As we celebrate International Women's Day, I can't help but reflect on the remarkable women in my family that I just got time to revisit in Stockholm, especially my 101-year-old Aunt Eivor, who epitomizes the essence of living life to the fullest. Maybe her vitality and sharp wit at 101 have elements of the “100 year-old [Wo]man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared” (please see the movie or read the book if you haven’t). I was nearly tempted to go with her and take on a whirlwind adventure – what a great time of life with nothing to lose and everything to reflect on.

Eivor's own Blue Zone

In the realm of longevity, Blue Zones have captivated our imagination with their tales of societies where people not only live longer but do so with vigor and zest. But let's not confine ourselves to the geographical boundaries of these zones; instead, let's learn to create our own magic wherever we are. Learning from my dear Aunt Eivor who at 101 has a spirit that is infectious, her mind as sharp as ever, and her attitude towards life, inspiring. She embodies the essence of the Blue Zones with her unwavering positivity. It's no surprise that her secret to longevity involves dancing, a practice that not only keeps the body moving but also nourishes the soul and a positive outlook on life.

Dancing and Diet

Dancing, is not just a physical activity; it's a celebration of life itself. It stimulates the brain, strengthens neural connections, and infuses every step with joy and vitality. And when paired with a diet like Eivor's, rich in nutrients like Omega-3 from fish like herring that infuse your brain's gray matter with the ability to fire signals properly, antioxidants from lingonberries that clear out the waste molecules, and protein from sources like pea soup and cottage cheese, it becomes a recipe for both physical and mental well-being. We know that a body builder needs to both eat protein and stress those muscles - but why do we find it so hard to connect that even the rest of the body needs it's own specific nutrients and exertion to build a functional human body and mind.

Omega-3: Nourishing the Brain and Body

Omega-3 is a fundamental building block for the grey matter of the brain, where sensations, perceptions, movements, and cognitive processes occur. Engaging in activities like dancing enhances the plasticity of the brain, promoting its overall health and function, but it cannot do so without the right building blocks. These building blocks have to come from the diet as we cannot make them ourselves. Incorporating Omega-3-rich foods like herring and sardines into our diets is a direct delivery of this vital nutrition from relatively sustainable sources. However, for those seeking plant based alternatives you can go straight to the source, from algae and seaweeds, providing a plant-based option for this vital nutrient. Try SeaFibre-3 or focus on regular consumption of our greenest products like Phukka and Pasta with whole seaweed cells including Omega-3.

Antioxidants: Protecting Brain Health

Research suggests that obtaining antioxidants from food, rather than supplements, supports better brain aging and cognition. Lingonberries, akin to blueberries and cranberries, are especially renowned for their high antioxidant content, which helps combat free radicals and prevent neurodegeneration. In Sweden, lingonberries are a staple, enjoyed with main meals, on pancakes, and even mixed with cottage cheese—a favorite of my Aunt Eivor. While lingonberries may be harder to find outside of Sweden, alternatives like cranberries and antioxidant-rich seaweeds provide diverse options for obtaining these essential nutrients. Incorporating cranberries into products like PhycoMuesli alongside our anti-oxidant rich seaweed ensures a varied and nutritious diet.

Protein: Fueling Muscles and Joints

Protein plays a crucial role in maintaining muscle and joint health. Pea soup and cottage cheese were staple sources of protein after the Second World War in Sweden. Today, we have even more diverse sources such as pea protein that we add to our Sea Bircher muesli, high-protein durum semolina in our pasta, or hemp seeds in our PhycoMuesli alongside seaweed protein offer complete protein options for a balanced diet. By embracing these alternatives, we not only diversify our protein intake but also contribute to sustainable and environmentally friendly food practices.

Fiber: A Foundation for Digestive Health

Swedes traditionally incorporate fi a lot of fiber into their diets, with staples like "Crisp" bread from rye, oats and barley wholgrains, but also a variety of root vegetables. Traditional dishes like "RotMos" (Root Mousse), made from a blend of root vegetables like turnips, potatoes and even beetroots, provide a rich source of fiber and antioxidants beyond just the mashed potatoe. Adding Phukka—a fiber-rich, antioxidant-packed blend—to dishes like RotMos enhances both taste and nutritional value making it nearly a complete meal itself. By prioritizing fiber-rich foods, we support digestive health and overall well-being.

Other Blue Zones culture

- Rhythmic Rituals

But beyond dance and diet, there are Blue Zones elements ingrained in Swedish society that contribute to longevity. The tradition of "Fika," a daily ritual of coffee and bread buns, serves as a social glue that fosters connection and community. And treats like this are safer and OK when done in company and within tradition, rather than binging on sweets at other times on your own. The Swedish concept of "Lagom," finding the perfect balance in all things, teaches us the art of moderation, a valuable lesson in today's world of excess. It is a bit ironic that my local bakery in Australia, called Lagom, is starting to make sourdough loaves with seaweed - for my Fika!

- A  new ingredient for Blue Zone

The Swedish commitment to democracy and equality ensures access to education, healthcare, and a secure food supply for all. It's a reminder that longevity isn't just about individual choices but also about the collective well-being of society as a whole. It is not a coincidence that democracies enjoy longer lifespans in their populations - but this might not be Eivors secret because the global data shows that democracies tend to bring the lifespan of men up closer to that of women. So it might be a secret that we want to let a few of the male leaders of our world understand a bit better.

Fusing the past with the Future of Food

As we navigate the complexities of modern life, let's not forget the wisdom of our elders and the lessons they impart. Let's dance to the rhythm of life, nourish our bodies with wholesome foods, and cherish the democratic values that form the cornerstone of a healthy society.

So here's my prescription for a long and fulfilling life: Take a dose of seaweed with your meals, dance like nobody's watching, and cherish the gift of democracy. In doing so, we honor the past, celebrate the present, and pave the way for a brighter future—for women, and it turns out especially for men, everywhere and for generations to come.