Brazil has a great reputation for beer, beaches and bikini babes. Considering about half of the Victoria Secret’s models are Brazilian, this country seems to have something in the air.
What’s more, the north of Brazil is covered by the Amazon rainforest – home to a breathtaking variety of animals, flora and fauna. This diversity means that the Amazon also has an amazing potential for cures; 25% of our world’s medicines are sourced from the rainforest, but only 10% of rainforest plants have been examined for their medicinal value – so the possibilities really are endless.
From what has been discovered, however, a lot of these health benefits have been incorporated into Brazilian culture, so here’s a few top tips straight from the rainforests and beaches of Brazil to get you started and keep you healthy and glowing like a Brazilian (Disclaimer: following this advice will not turn you into a VS model)
Christopher Columbus called papayas “the fruit of angels”, and with good reason; they will help pack your body full of great vitamins and minerals. Papayas have a high content of beta-carotene (also found in broccoli and carrots) which helps protect us against asthma and development of cancer, including prostrate cancer in men. On a beauty side, its packed with Vitamins A and C, great for shiny and moisturized hair and skin. Plus, when you are constipated, high quantities of Vitamin C are a great help in getting everything moving!
Apart from eating papaya, a popular remedy in Brazil is to mash it up and apply it to small wounds to prevent infection, the enzymes chymoppapain and papayin in the fruit help by reducing inflammation too.
Acai (pronounced ass- I – ee) are a small health bomb fruits. They have a huge concentration of antioxidants (double that of blueberries) that help neutralize the effects of damaging free radicals on our cells and glands, helping protect us from ageing and a variety of diseases. They also contain Vitamin C and a host of other vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3 and E) as well as being a source of calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper.
Rumor on the streets of Sao Paulo also has it that acai helps boost sex drive by increasing blood circulation…
Brazilians hug, a lot. Instead of staying hello with a handshake or a peck on the cheek, you are pulled in for a tight hug even if you have never met the person before. And it turns out that hugging actually has some health benefits as well. A recent study from the Department of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, USA, shows that hugging is a natural stress reliever and lowers blood pressure levels. When you hug someone, especially someone close to you, your oxytocin level goes up, helping reduce cortisol (stress levels) in your body, which in turn can help combat stress-related illnesses and colds.
So go Brazilian and start giving more hugs!
A typical Brazilian dish is arroz com feiajo, a mouth-watering mixture of garlicy rice with slow cooked beans. The inclusion of these beans in the everyday diet of Brazilians has amazing health benefits – they are a rich source of cholesterol-lowering fibre, and are high in protein and complex hydrocarbons, as well as being a good source of phosphorus, iron, protein, magnesium, manganese and potassium. So eat your beans, black, white and red.
Even though Brazilians work very hard, they know the value of a good holiday and switching off with a beer or two (or ten!). A study from Stanford University on the relationship between hours worked and productivity shows that that productivity turns sharply negative when we work overtime, to the point that you are actually LESS productive from a 60-hour week than from a normal 40-hour week. Therefore, it is essential to switch off to ensure you are maximizing your potential– and if you can manage to make it to a beach every once in a while, then you are truly relaxing Brazilian style.
These five points are really only the tip of the iceberg, but are a great start to a healthier and happier you. And who knows, maybe a call from Victoria’s Secret is only a papaya away!