Hispanics in the United States are nearly as poor, on average, as African Americans. Yet they live longer, on average, than non-Hispanic whites. What’s their secret?
Jasmine Aquilera, writing for Yes! magazine, says it is a combination of close community and family bonds, a healthier diet and la cuarentena, a Latin American tradition in which a new mother rests for the first 40 days after giving birth, not lifting a finger except to breastfeed and bond with her child.
A life in which community and family take priority would certainly be less stressful than a life in which priority is given to climbing the ladder of success—particularly in an economy in which so many people are moving down the ladder rather than up.
The traditional Mexican diet, based on corn, beans and rice, is indeed a healthy one. It should not be confused with the Tex-Mex diet, with its big gobs of ground meat and melted cheese. I think that the Tex-Mex diet may be a big reason Hispanics suffer disproportionately from obesity and diabetes.
I was especially interested in Aquilera’s report on the custom of cuartena. It reflects a culture that is profoundly pro-life in a way that goes beyond mere opposition to abortion and contraception.
I’ve read international surveys of happiness, which in general is proportional to the level of material well-being in various countries. The exceptions are the former Communist countries of eastern Europe, where people are less happy than the statistics would indicate, and the Latin American countries, where people are more happy than the statistics would indicate.
I think Latin Americans have something to teach us Anglo Americans about how to live.
Latinos Live Longest Despite Poverty. Here’s Their Secret by Jasmine Aquilera for Yes!