The Secret to Japan’s 25 year Record for Longevity

It is a never ending human greed. Movies, books, characters all created/play with the idea of the human form that never dies (vampires, Superman..)

The highest life expectancy was documented from Japan for the last 25 years (for females). However, Hong Kong now has a higher one at 86.70 years vs the Japanese at 85.90. Some are attributing this longer life expectancy to a healthier traditional diet.

The scientific claims,

  • It has been found that the area with the highest life expectancy is Okinawa, Japan. In comparison with the other Japanese areas, their diet had (in 1988)
    • around 90 grams of meat and pulses daily which is about 20% and 30% higher than the national average.
    • a daily intake of green and yellow vegetables which was about 50% higher than the national average.

Around 90 grams of chicken breast, can be replaced with legumes (chickpeas, lentils and other beans)

  • The Okinawan diet has been analyzed and found to be low in calories but nutrient dense 😀
  • Thus another theory that is still  under study is Dietary Restriction.
    • It goes like this, when we UNDER-EAT (when still meeting our body’s daily needs), that sends a signal throughout our body telling the body to favor longevity (++++ing years to our life when this is adopted as a lifestyle).
    • Dietary restriction without under-eating delays most age-related physiological changes, and extends maximum and average lifespan
    • Animal studies have also demonstrated that MILD dietary restriction (not severe!) can prevent or lessen the severity of cancer, stroke, coronary heart disease, autoimmune disease, allergy, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The Okinawan diet is heavy in vegetables and fruits (therefore phytonutrient and antioxidant rich) but low in meat, refined grains, saturated fat, sugar, salt, and full-fat dairy products.

A comparative study in 2009 found it to be very similar to the traditional

Mediterranean diet or the modern DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet

which are both known to contribute to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (heart diseases), some cancers, and other chronic diseases through multiple mechanisms, including reduced oxidative stress.

    • In comparison with the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet, the traditional Okinawan diet is
      • lowest in fat intake, particularly saturated fat
      • highest in carbohydrate intake, high intake of antioxidant-rich yet calorie-poor orange-yellow root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, and green leafy vegetables.

Make this..Into THIS!

 

As the Japanese diet is becoming more Westernized (yes the deep fried @#!, soft drinks, processed carbohydrates…) Japanese hospitals are seeing more cases of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (aka heart diseases) and the metabolic syndrome which is a group of syndromes that place a person at a higher risk of heart disease and death.

The higher life expectancy in Japan is not found to be related to social gradient of life, it is however found to be related to healthy lifestyles especially diet and the social support of family and friends.



So the take home message is this,

1. When eating a meal LOOK at your plate, observe what is on your plate and in what quantities

2. What are you having next to your meal; drinks, appetizers, side dishes

3. Stop your meal before the feeling of “Oh dear I overate”.

4. Say ‘No‘ to that second piece of dessert, to the second serving of dinner and make sure your first serving is not too large to start with.

5. A good tip; when eating a sandwich or our deadly mankoushe, exercise portion control. Ask for it to be cut in half, if you ate the first half and are still famished then have the second…..if you are somewhat satisfied try to go without having the second half!

6. Eat slowly and enjoy your fooooooood! Nom Nom!

Stop overeating not only to control your weight and have a healthier body, but also to live to see your grand grand children!

________________________________________________________________________________________

Please note: This post is not encouraging low calorie diets. It is promoting mindful eating, portion control and maximizing the reader’s potential.

There have been no experimental trials on humans to support some of these claims, but studies on mice and rats are suggesting this. References are available upon request.

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