Did you know that Icelanders have the highest life expectancy in the entire world?
They also have 80% fewer incidents of heart disease as compared to the US over the last 25 years.
Coincidence? We think not… How do they do it? What’s the “Icelandic secret”?
When it comes to socializing, England has its pubs. Italy has its piazzas. And Iceland has its pools.
On a snowy February afternoon, the outdoor West End pool in the capital city of Reykjavik was busy. Steam rose off the hot tubs, heated by Iceland’s vast geothermal network.
Laughter and chatting filled the air. This is Iceland’s meeting place. And in a country with minimal daylight in the long, gray winter, these pools might be the key to Iceland’s happiness.
Iceland’s natural surroundings, though stunning, can be harsh and desolate. Snow, sleet and rain blow wildly in the wind during the winter. The island’s population of 332,000 people, mostly centered around Reykjavik, hunkers down to wait it out, usually indoors.
Tourists gather at the well-known Blue Lagoon, while locals are more likely to be found in a local neighborhood pool.
But if they’re outdoors, you’ll find them in the pools and hot tubs that dot the country; nearly every neighborhood has one. Tourists tend to gather at the well-known Blue Lagoon. If you want to find the locals, you need a neighborhood pool. And this unique culture has drawn interest from researchers at the University of Iceland, including folklorist Valdimar Hafstein.
“At this point, it is considered more or less a civil right to have one (of these pools) within walking distance of your home,” he said. “It’s become a focus point of public life, really.”
Despite the harsh climate, Iceland often finds itself among the top three of the world’s happiest countries. Hafstein and his fellow researchers believe the pools are a big reason why.
“If you think of health and wellness not just as a matter of physical health and being free from disease but also the mental and social aspects, I think the geothermal heat and communal pools have a lot to do with that,” Hafstein said. “We feel good here. We know our neighbors, because we meet them in the pools. It creates a good vibe, and you feel at home in there.”
In the 1950s and ’60s, Iceland switched from coal-powered heat to geothermal, harnessing the power of the island’s volcanic activity. The infrastructure created by the switch allowed the formation of communal pools, which have been breaking down social barriers ever since.
“When we meet in the pool, we chat, and that’s a space of liberty where you’re at ease to talk to others,” Hafstein said. “People from all walks of life go to the pool. So you have, mixing in the same hot tub, people living in the area, whether it’s the professor or the student, construction worker or the businessman, the billionaire or car salesman — they all meet up.”
So what you’re saying is that… If we hang out in pools all day we’ll live longer?
Driven by curiosity, researchers dived deeper and finally found the answer. It was so unexpected and far-reaching that press coverage swept the country was as stunning. It turns out that while the Icelanders were soaking in the water, they were coincidentally soaking in this…
Yup, that’s a volcano.
Researchers were dumbfounded to discover that it was their volcanoes that created an extremely nutrient-rich soil that blankets the entire nation.
You see, when they erupt, they cover the soil with a fine ash that’s loaded with minerals deep from within the Earth’s core.
So, not only are the Icelanders soaking in these nutrients but these minerals super-charge their food supply, strengthening its God-given ability to enhance health better than any man-made remedy.
Naturally, everyone wanted to know what these minerals were. And they found many of them embedded in the volcanic ash. But there were two that stood out. The first came right out of the Bible itself.