As the largest country in South America, Brazil is home to a beautifully diverse range of landscapes – from dense Amazonian rainforests and majestic mountains to winding rivers and picturesque waterfalls, and more to be discovered. While Brazil is a unique haven for nature and exotic wildlife, it’s also a desirable destination for expats, ranked 2nd place for expat family integration in HSBC’s 2018 Expat Explorer.
Moving abroad can take a lot of planning and energy, and because of this, your health and wellbeing can suffer. So to help you maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle if you’re planning to relocate to this fascinating country, here are a few ways you can take advantage of Brazil’s local cuisine, health services and outdoor-oriented lifestyle.
Keep your health in check
Unfortunately, it’s all too common for people to prioritise their physical health over their mental health. But this is something that is all too important, especially when you’ve recently moved to a new country where things can get quite overwhelming. While there are public mental health support services available in Brazil, there are still areas of the country that are lacking the correct type of care.
According to the World Health Organization, the number of psychiatrists and mental health workers in Brazil is still far from the ideal; they are unequally distributed, and residency positions are concentrated in the major cities. So if you’re living in such a city, you should find the support you need – but if you’re living in a more rural area, you may struggle to find mental health support services.
This is the same issue with the country’s public hospitals and medical facilities. Even though legal citizens and permanent residents are entitled to access free public healthcare services, the quality is generally not up to the standards you may expect. Public hospitals are often overcrowded and underfunded, while English-speaking doctors are few and far between, especially in more rural areas.
Brazil’s private healthcare services and facilities are of a much higher standard, but the quality of service is definitely reflected in the cost. In fact, private healthcare in Brazil has earned the reputation of being among the most expensive in Latin America. To ensure you’re not facing a pricey bill if you do choose to go private, it can be wise to look into global health insurance options, to ensure you’re appropriately covered.
Sample healthy Brazilian cuisine
Traditional Brazilian cuisine finds its roots in Portuguese, European and, West African and Asian culture. As a beautiful mixing pot of cultures across the world, Brazilian cuisine is diverse as it is delicious and there are plenty of healthy dishes for you to experience.
Enjoyed across the country, feijoada is arguably Brazil’s most famous dish, and while each region has their own version of feijoada, the dish is usually made with beans, pork or beef to create a hearty and delicious stew.
This traditional gastronomic delight can include many healthy additions such as okra, pumpkin, banana and orange slices. Feijoada can also feature a variety of meats including pork sausage, pork trimmings and smoked ribs.
Traditionally, this dish is usually prepared with black beans, although white, pinto and red are also used in various regions across the country. Often served with white rice and collard greens, feijoada is a hearty yet healthy dish full of protein, potassium, vitamins and minerals.
As Brazil’s signature seafood dish, you’re sure to stumble upon moqueca. While there is some debate about whether this dish originates from the northeastern state of Bahia, or the neighbouring state of Espírito Santo, both create their own unique version of moqueca. Another hearty stew, this seafood dish is traditionally made with white fish or prawns and mixed with diced tomatoes, onions and coriander.
The Capixabas (residents of Espírito Santo) add annatto seeds to give the dish a natural rich red colour, while the Baianos make the dish with palm oil, peppers and coconut milk – giving it an all round heartier and richer taste. High in protein and low in fat, the seafood in this dish is also a great source of vitamins and nutrients.
Salada de Palmito
While Brazilian cuisine is very much meat-oriented, there are other healthy dishes widely available that are far more vegetarian and vegan friendly such as Salada de Palmito (Brazilian Hearts of Palm Salad). This refreshing salad is created with hearts of palm, tomatoes, onion and spring onion, tossed together in olive oil, lime, salt and pepper.
While there are plenty of authentic Brazilian dishes to try, there are also international food options available – giving you a plethora of delicious food to test and taste. To truly immerse yourself in the country’s culture however, it’s best to just dive straight into all the incredible local food on offer.
Experience the outdoors
Life in Brazil is very much lived outdoors, and exercise is also an integral part of Brazilian life – combine the two and you’ll find an abundance of outdoor exercise opportunities to be explored. In fact, the country has the second biggest fitness industry in the world after the U.S. While Brazil is home to a plethora of fitness centers and gyms, the country is also blessed with plenty of outdoor gyms to take advantage of.
One sport that lies at the heart of Brazilian culture is football. As a well-loved national sport, football is simply everywhere – whether it’s at a park, on the street, or on the beach. If you’re a football fan you’re sure to love it here, and don’t be afraid to ask to join in an ongoing game – it’s not uncommon for people to join in as and when, so get involved and have a kickabout.
From making your way through all the deliciously healthy food options on offer and keeping your health in check with the country’s healthcare services, to taking advantage of the country’s outdoor-oriented lifestyle, there are plenty of ways you can maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle in Brazil.