Last week the Great NEWS blog shared Bug Bites are Bad News and today we cover a terrific trip to explore Paradise in Panama. Traveling on my first trip to Panama to see first hand what the numerous articles, news reports and websites are talking about it soon became evident why stories on the paradise, people, plants and plans for development in Panama are big news. This blog post will help you learn more about Paradise in Panama and how you can benefit from their health and nutrition discoveries.

While Panama is not specifically designated as one of the top Blue Zones for health and longevity like Costa Rica it’s northern neighbor, it is still part of the tropical paradise of Central America. Today you will gain the insights from my twelve days in Panama and the life lessons learned over hundreds of years from the natives living in the jungles of Panama so we can apply them in our daily life for our happiness and health.

Healthy Foods and Lifestyle in Panama

Most of my observations came from eating with the locals, asking questions and interviewing Conrad Grant (age 76) an energetic and talkative man I met in Casco Viejo. He claims to be both a Panamanian and US national/ citizen born at a US hospital in the canal zone and educated at a US school there. He was a wealth of information and definitely fit, healthy and trim. His said his secret for longevity includes lots of fresh fruits and home cooked meals of beans, rice, roots, vegetables, coconuts, fish, eggs and chicken. He also avoids excess sugar, fast foods, fried foods, junk foods, modern cooking oils and sodas. He also claims hard work and clean living without tobacco or excess alcohol is key.

The native people eat primarily locally grown sustainable foods from themselves or local farmers and in the natural season. Their diet consists mostly of beans, corn, coconuts, fruits, greens, rice, roots, squash and vegetables which are staples and often served at each meal. Foods also include beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chayote, cucumber, eggplant, jicima, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and yucca

They eat fresh foods harvested at near ripeness right from the source. The volcanic soil is rich in minerals and trace elements. These are lacking in many of the soils and many of the foods grown in the US and other countries that over produce and do not promote optimal crop and soil conservation and sustainability methods.

Fresh vegetables

Fresh vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, enzymes, minerals, phyto-nutrients, trace elements and vitamins

Home Cooked Whole Foods

They consume mostly nutrient dense whole foods normally cooked from scratch and prepared the old fashion slow cook way.

By eating nutrient dense foods with a full rainbow of colors from the coconuts, fruits, greens, plants and vegetables they provide a wide range of antioxidants, enzymes, minerals, trace elements, phyto-nutrients and vitamins

The locals in Panama normally eat three good meals a day and usually a reasonable sized portion each meal.

Fresh herbs, ingredients and spices used when preparing the food helps provides a wide range of energy, health, medicinal and nutritional benefits.

Butter, coconut oil and animal fat is often used for cooking which are more heat stable.

The people of Panama work hard five to five and a half days a week and enjoy Saturday and Sunday for recreation, rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. They tend to focus on enjoying their family, friends, fun and special occasions. Sunday is reserved as a day for church, family, rest and spiritual time.  They must take care of their own health because it is essential to work and survive.

Most housing is fairly compact, comfortable and constructed to last. They use clay tile, concrete, metal and rock for long durability. Most homes are efficient yet small and most people enjoy natural fresh air ventilation and a comfortable porch for conversing, relaxing and socializing. They utilize outdoor living space as much as possible. In Panama City those that may have air conditioning use zone units as needed on really hot and humid days.

In Panama they have a long history of connection to the land and living on what they can produce locally, mostly natural nutrient dense whole foods.

You notice them eating lots of raw fish (ceviche), fruits and vegetables. Papaya and pineapple contain beneficial enzymes and foods with pro-biotics such as (ceviche, cheese, fruits, nance, pickled vegetables and yogurt) are also plentiful. They also receive good pro-biotics from other foods they eat and the close connection to the gardens and soil. They depend on the friendly bacteria to keep their digestive and immune system strong.

The animal products such as: beef, chicken, dairy, eggs and pork are largely free range and grass fed instead of from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) fed with Genetically Engineered (GE) Frankenfoods and antibiotics. Free range eggs and dairy are a sustainable staple in Panama.  Many people on the farms consume raw milk they get from their own cows.

The majority of people walk quite a bit each day. Whether it is walking to the bus, farm, market, neighbors, school, store or work they depend on walking for their primary transportation. Everywhere you look early and late, flat and hilly, rainy and shine people depend on walking to get where they need to be.

Coconuts, coconut oil and young green coconut water is plentiful and provides one of the best low cost foods in the world.

Aloe vera, bee pollen, cilantro, ginger, herbs, peppers, raw honey and spices are consumed for health and medicinal benefits.

Sun rise is early year round (around 06:00) so the people get an early start for school and work. The sun sets early (around 18:30) when they are winding down and ready for dinner. People in Panama have a fairly consistent climate during the year except for the dry and rainy season variations. This allows them to have a fairly consistent routine and seems to greatly reduce their level of stress.

Clean Water Fresh Air and Sunshine

Much of the water is clean and pure from numerous creeks, springs and wells. Many houses in the country use clean water directly from mountain springs without chlorine treatment.

The people grow up with hard work on the farms and have a good work ethic since there are not large social and welfare programs to rely on. Digging with a hoe, plowing and swinging a machete for hours a day is tough work. Just walking to and from farms, fields and town requires good conditioning.

Spending a significant amount of time outdoors in the fresh air, tropical vegetation and warm sunshine is great for one’s health and well being.  Even the sweating helps release toxins and the humidity seems to keep them looking younger.  Even with darker skin they tend to cover up and wear hats to protect from the intense sun rather than use sunscreen.

A couple walking on the beach

Walking on the beach is fun and relaxing.

They consume fairly large amounts of beans, lentils, rice and vegetables. This includes black, lima, red, spotted, yellow and white beans. Cauliflower, broccoli, onions, tomatoes, avocado, yucca, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, corn, beets, cabbage, squash, chayote, greens and green beans also play a main role in their diet.

Papaya and pineapple provide lots of healthy enzymes for digestion and are easy to grow. Other fruits include bananas, cantaloupe, guava, lemons, limes, mangos, oranges, passion fruit, plantains, watermelon. People have access to and eat lots of local fresh fruits such a bananas (many varities), cantaloupe, cacao fruit, cashew fruit, guava, mango, plantains, star fruit, limons, mandarins, noni, passion fruit, oranges, strawberries, soursop, water apples and watermelon.

Buenos Dias Amigos!

In Panama their language feels friendly, inviting and warm. You regularly hear amigo (friend), buenas dias, (good day), good afternoon, good evening, mucho gusto, gracias (thank you), por favor and many other positive words.

Few people seem to smoke and there are lots of signs reminding you no fumar (no smoking) in public places.

The city kids play soccer and other outdoor games to stay physically fit. The country kids work hard on the farm and land helping with chores.

Panama is blessed with a long coastline on the Caribbean sea and Pacific Ocean so they have lots of beautiful beaches. They are blessed to be below the hurricane zone and have few major storms except for flooding from excessive rains.

Most of the country has good infrastructure with access to electricity and fairly good roads. Electricity allows them to enjoy a higher standard of life and greater access to education and internet for opportunities above many other Central American countries.

There is an abundance of beautiful beaches, birds, flora and fauna which offer a real feeling of paradise. Hearing birds chirping and singing adds to the calming and relaxing feeling while in a tropical paradise. Even in towns you may wake to roosters crowing or parrots squawking.

The tropical flowers, plants and trees fill the air with fragrant smells. Natural smells from flowers and trees produce a therapeutic benefit and megahertz of revitalizing energy. The beautiful bougainvillea, bromeliads, corteza amarilla, ginger, heliconia, hibiscus, orchids and passion flowers are incredible. They grow year round like weeds and the main maintenance is preventing them from taking over.

Panama Canal Zone

While somewhat controversial the canal is truly one of the man made wonders of the world and provides a steady stream of international business and revenue for the country. The canal expansion will increase the traffic and financial opportunities for Panama and her people.  Vast amounts of cargo from around the world passes through the Panama Canal Zone.

Many international banks have an office in Panama so it is definitely an international banking capital. Panama and its banks provide unique international diversification opportunities and for many in North America this might be a smart consideration to deal with the extremely low interest rates on savings accounts. Many people are considering Panama as an investment and retirement option. Maybe you should also.

In Panama when it is not raining you can see some stunning star filled nights. If you are lucky you may be in the right place such as Azeuro penninsula to see the sun setting to the west in the Pacific ocean.

When you allow your body, mind and spirit to relax, slow down and unwind you can feel a special energy around you. Panama is blessed with a paradise filled with birds, Caribbean sea, dolphins, flowers, foods, fruits, jungles, monkeys, mountains, Pacific ocean, rivers, springs, trees, waterfalls and whales.

There are many different micro climates in Panama from coastal mangroves, cloud forests, highlands, islands and tropical rain forests. During the year up to 10 feet of rain can fall in some areas. With the abundant sunshine and warm weather many trees grow very quickly. Some varieties of wood cut from bushes and trees and stuck into the ground during the rainy season will start growing to provide a living fence post in this tropical paradise.

When you are ready for eco-tourism, health and longevity tips from the main gateway to Central and South America consider Paradise in Panama. Traveling to Panama is easy, enjoyable and exciting and allows you to visit an ecologically diverse country. Their culture has over come many changes and challenges to become the economic hub it is today. Now that you are better educated about Paradise in Panama how will you apply what you have learned?

Mastery Action Plan

Identify three new whole foods you could add to your meals this week. Maybe consider adding some fresh coconut and extra virgin coconut oil to your health and nutrition program. When you take long walks do you stop to look at and smell the flowers? When would now be a great time to enjoy more home cooked whole foods and less fast foods and junk foods to enhance your health and longevity?

Call to Action

What comments, commitments or questions do you have regarding your idea of a personal paradise?

Next week the Great NEWS Blog with share: Problems in Panama