5 Health Lessons We Can Learn From Cuba

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My husband and I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba this January for a quick getaway. We were blown away by the natural, untouched beauty of this Caribbean country. Despite the fact that it's the largest Caribbean island, you can walk freely anywhere and as a doctor. By the end of my stay, I had collected six health tips to take back to American and share with you:

1. Check the size of your coffee cup.

Cubans drink about one espresso a day, compared to most Americans who indulge in multiple large coffees (oftentimes filled with sugar) throughout the day. One Cuban coffee is less than 4 ounces while the average 8-ounce American coffee has about 150 milligrams of caffeine. If you make that a 16- or 20-ounce cup, you're easily going to quadruple the amount of caffeine. No wonder we are always wired and tired! This much coffee can cause you to become more anxious by overstimulating your stress hormones, causing you to crave sweets and gain weight.

2. Dancing nurtures the soul.

Cubans enjoy life to the fullest, and they do this best when they dance! You can see them dancing, singing, and enjoying music all the time. We all need to dance more and find more movement to nurture our souls.

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3. Everything is better organic.

Americans, and many other countries around the world, can learn a lot from the Cubans about organic farming. They had a green revolution decades before Americans made it a priority, halting their use of chemicals because they lost many of their suppliers in the 1990s. Without fertilizers and pesticide, they quickly learned how to farm naturally. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are currently outlawed, and the Cuban diet is filled with fiber, fresh fruits, and vegetables. They start off their day indulging in tropical fruits and organic, pasteurized, free-range farm eggs (the chickens are freely roaming the streets) and other staple foods include root vegetables like plantains, potatoes, malanga (yam), yucca (cassava), black beans, legumes, and rice. They do eat red meat but in moderation.

4. Nature calms the mind.

Cubans have beautiful beaches and amazing countrysides, so spending time in nature isn't a chore. They take time to enjoy nature and life on the weekends.

5. Alternative medicine is something to consider.

During my trip, I observed that homeopathic medicine is popular in the country. In fact, Cuban physicians are taught it in medical schools, and it's a standard part of their health care system. It's a great reminder to go back to basics and get to the root of whatever ails you.

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