The Healthiest Places in the Latin Tropics
There are a number of destinations that can be included in a list of the healthiest places in the Latin Tropics. The abundance of fresh foods, a more relaxed pace of daily living, and the tropical climate are just some of the features that have made the region a long-time favorite destination for retirees and other expats looking for a better quality of life.
This compelling combination has dramatically increased the interest of U.S. residents in finding alternative approaches to their current living arrangements. It is not just the locations themselves, but the qualities and opportunities that can be found there, that promise an overall healthier lifestyle – both on the physical and the emotional levels.
What Makes the Healthiest Places in the Latin Tropics Special
There are a number of qualities that the healthiest places in the Latin Tropics all seem to share. Below is a list of these factors that contribute to the wellbeing of locals and expats alike.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Finding fresh produce in the tropics can be as easy as taking a short walk or drive to one of the countless roadside stands or weekly farmers’ markets that are a fixture of life in these countries. The wide variety of locally grown products is not only less expensive but makes it far more convenient to prepare meals from scratch – leading to another element that makes life in the tropics a healthy alternative: diet.
There is certainly a much smaller emphasis on pre-packaged or “fast” food in the Latin Tropics. As a result, more meals are prepared fresh, instead of out of a container or microwavable box.
Additionally, there is not as much emphasis on red meat in the region, the preferred protein sources being poultry or fish. These kinds of diets have been shown to be healthier in terms of reducing fat and cholesterol.
Having more sunlight, warmer temperatures and less extremes in climate (i.e., winter cold to summer heat in a short period) has shown to be more conducive to better health. Aside from the physical benefits of Vitamin D, the abundance of sunlight also helps combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Appropriately abbreviated as SAD, this type of depression brought on during the shorter periods of daylight during the winter months impacts roughly three million adults yearly. Given that daylight hours only vary about fifteen minutes during the seasons, life under the tropical sun is emotionally healthy as well as physically healthy.
Less Stressful Pace of Living
If there is one thing that is the hallmark of the Latin Tropics, it is the slower, more relaxed pace of life. The stress of facing crowded streets, time clocks, and the omnipresent “noise” of the 24/7/365 connected world is replaced by the far more tranquil natural rhythms of the ocean, tropical rain forests, and small villages.
While the slower pace of getting things done (such as repairs or building projects) can take some getting used to, the physical benefits are worth the extra time spent. It can truly be said that, in terms of daily living, you do without doing and it all gets done.
More Active Lifestyle
One of the most important features that all these locations share is a more active physical lifestyle. Warm weather is more conducive to outdoor activities that can range from merely walking to more strenuous forms such as swimming, surfing, and other sports.
The Top Five Healthiest Places in the Latin Tropics
Here is a list of the top five healthiest places in the Latin Tropics. While each one has its own unique characteristics, they all share qualities that make them desirable of destinations for those seeking to find their own personal “fountain of youth.”
5. Volcán/Boquete, Panama
Located in the Chiriquí province of Panama, the Volcán/Boquete area boasts access to an abundance of fresh produce, herbs, and coffee and is known as the “breadbasket of Panama.” The moderate temperatures, low humidity (thanks to being 4000 feet above sea level), and a tranquil sense of wellbeing, all contribute to a more active lifestyle.
The region also can claim longer life spans for its residents than the rest of Panama. Boquete has been singled out by AARP magazine as one of the top places to retire in the entire world.
4. Playa Gigante, Nicaragua
This rustic fishing village on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua is rapidly becoming a mecca for a growing number of alternative health and yoga spas. With a very laid-back lifestyle, ready access to fresh fish and produce, and natural beauty of one of the country’s ecological centers, healthy living in Playa Gigante comes easily.
3. Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
Aside from its breathtaking vistas, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala is becoming recognized as a place for retirees seeking a healthier lifestyle. With some of the best weather anywhere, the rich Mayan culture (still very much in existence), abundant fresh produce, and a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy, Lake Atitlán’s popularity as both a tourist destination and a retirement location continues to grow.
2. Vilcabamba, Ecuador
It may come as a surprise to many that Vilcabamba, Ecuador is included in this list. Located in what is has become known as the “Valley of Longevity,” local residents claim to reach life expectancies well past 100 years.
While there is no hard evidence to support this claim, the mild climate, abundant fresh air (no pollution), low animal fat diets, and active lifestyle certainly are positive factors for healthier living. The natural beauty and relaxed pace of life in the valley also contribute to the growth of Vilcabamba as a top retirement destination.
1. Nicoya Peninsula/Nosara, Costa Rica
Featured in the book, The Blue Zones, the Nicoya Peninsula – and Nosara in particular – has become the best known of top healthy places in the Latin Tropics. The ready access to fresh produce and seafood combined with a more relaxed outdoor lifestyle has created an environment where longer life spans are the rule, not the exception.
Healthier diets and more physical activity seem to be only part of Nosara’s secret. The growing number of alternative therapies, such as meditation and yoga, create an atmosphere where life can be embraced as opposed to just being lived.
Finding That Longer, Healthier Life Path in Paradise
Visiting the locations mentioned above (or others in the region) could be the first step to discovering what the healthiest places in the Latin Tropics could offer as a lifestyle choice. Learning where and what resonates with you is a great place to begin your quest for a healthier, happier existence.