The Japanese Diet

The Japanese people is well known to have the greatest longevity circles in the world and has the world’s largest number of centenarians- 50 out of 100,000 people (in Okinawa, Japan) are over 100 years old. Many attribute their long life expectancy to the Japanese diet. What’s more, Japanese women reportedly have the lowest percentage of obesity (only 2.9%) in the world.

The Japanese diet, particularly in Okinawa, is low in saturated fat and calories and high in sea foods, seaweed, fruits, and vegetables. This is due to the widely practiced cultural tradition of hara hachi bu (eat until you are only 80% full). Okinawa, Japan also reports 80% lower incidence of cancers like breast and prostate, compared to most developed countries including the US. There is also low incidence of heart disease, stroke, and the average body mass index or BMI (an estimate of an individual’s relative body fat calculated from his height and weight) is 18 to 22, with low body fat levels.  It is also reported that Okinawans have a reduced risk of inflammation and autoimmune disease, which are the main cause of aging.

Based on the Okinawan experience, the aging process can be controlled best by watching those calories and concentrating on wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fruits and vegetables are the main focus of the Okinawan meal and the more brightly colored they are, the better. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of of bioflavonoids and other antioxidants known to help neutralize free radicals. Moderate food serving sizes of quality over quantity is advised and eating slowly so as to savor the flavors of the food are recommended. The Japanese diet, alongside a healthy lifestyle will definitely help us increase our chances of living longer.

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