Tens of thousands of Japanese live to be 100 years of age as shown by a study of Australian La Trobe University, making them one of the nations with longest average lifespan in the world. This is why we set out to find out what it is that Japanese do to live such long and healthy lives. Our research concentrated on three major parts of Japanese lifestyle, which include diet, emotional life and exercise.
1. The Diet Of Japan
One major factor of Japanese diet that is well known is that Japanese eat much less calories than an average western person. A study performed at the University of Florida showed that reducing calorie intake in rats by just 8% can potentially increase their lifespan greatly while also preventing various negative effects of ageing and generally improving their health. This study is interesting as it shows the Japanese way of dieting may greatly influence their long lifespans. These are some of the major parts of Japanese cuisine:
Japanese people simply love their fish and use it in their diet much like westerners use chicken. An interesting fact is that, while only making up 2% of the world’s population, this nation consumes 10% of the world’s entire fish supply. Fish has a variety of well-known health benefits, as it is understood it can decrease your chance of dying of heart disease by 36% as well as prevent cancers, inflammations and other health issues.
A report by UN recently suggested that 100,000 tons of seaweed are eaten by the Japanese every year and over 20 species of seaweed are a part of the Japanese cuisine. The seaweed is most popular on Okinawa, the southwestern island, which holds the world’s largest population of 100 year olds. Seaweed holds between 2 and 9 grams of protein in a cup and are very rich in potassium, making them an excellent dietary choice. The iodine present in seaweed also helps regulate the function of the thyroid gland. Harvard researchers also believe that seaweed’s ability to regulate hormones such as estrogen is what has led to extremely low occurrence of breast cancer in Okinawa. For those who don’t like the taste, Japanese also provide seaweed pasta which is milder in flavor. The extreme nutrient concentration in seaweed may make it necessary to limit how much of it you eat as there can certainly be too much of a good thing.
Tea is the traditional beverage of Japanese people. Japanese like to meet in huts similar to that hermits live in, in order to make a change from their usual environments and enjoy some tea with their friends. Japan is ahead of China and many other conutries in tea consumption and for the most part green tea is used by the Japanese. Green Tea has been shown in various studies to reduce the odds of cancer or heart diseases occurring as well as improve mental function and clarity. Another recent study demonstrated that those who drank five cups of green tea per day were 26% likely to die in general.
It is not only seaweed that Japanese like to eat, but other types of plants as well. The elders of Okinawa have spent most of their lives eating practically only plants. Japanese on average eat 6 times more rice and four time more vegetables than the westerners and other common foods include potatoes, vegetables and tofu, which all have low calorie counts and high concentrations of micronutrients. The Goya plant that is often consumed in Japan also lowers blood sugar and detoxes your body in a big way. On the other hand, Japanese really don’t eat much meat and it is basically only consumed in small portions for special events.
Okinawa island is filled with herb gardens, with nearly every household having one, growing ginger, turmeric and other valuable vegetables. These are used to help prevent and cure various diseases and those who live on Okinawa know very which ones to use for which condition.
2. Emotional Life
Japanese are a very traditional nation and they believe in deep connections between the mind and the body, the physical and the mental. In Japanese culture, you don’t just live your life whichever way you choose, like westerners do. There are numerous traditions and philosophies that shape the lives of Japanese and they include:
A Sense Of Purpose
The philosophy of Ikagi is well known and respected in Okinawa. This philosophy suggests that a person should in all cases have a sense of purpose, a meaningful reason to continue living. Ikagi suggests that you should be focused on living a good life, worth living and a major part of this is taking care of pets, animals and other living creatures. By doing so, people of Okinawa believe you will also have a greater sense of purpose and a greater will and focus to go about your own affairs.
Using Song Against Depression
Like anyone else, Japanese also need pastimes and a great number of them enjoy karaoke more than anything else. With the karaoke industry in Nippon estimated to $10 billion per year and the largest chain of karaoke parlous in the country, Big Echo, having 229 stores, it is easy to see just how big karaoke is in Japan. A study of the Osaka University showed that socializing and singing in such stores can greatly improve your cardiovascular health. The deep breathing involved in singing also serves to promote mental health. The positive attitude of people in Japanese karaoke stores also tends to promote a healthy and enjoyable atmosphere which certainly works to decrease depression and other mental health issues.
Respect The Elders
Another Japanese philosophy known as Moai suggests that friends should always be there for one another and support each other in hardships. What is more people in Nippon believe that your elders are to be respected deeply as your respect will help them live longer and healthier lives.
Forgetting The Past
We all know that living in the moment is the healthiest way of being and Japanese take this to a whole other level by really trying to forget the past and leave all the bad memories behind them, focusing on the now. Japanese people tend to be very sociable and easygoing and you will often see older and younger generations interacting without discrimination.
Laughing It Off
As we already mentioned, Japanese people tend to be very positive and laugh a lot and it has been proven in various studies that laughing and smiling helps decrease blood sugar, promote good immunity and burn calories. Additionally, many interviews with centurions have shown them to be very positive persons and say that laughing a lot is their secret.
This is one even the westerners understand pretty well but often don’t do enough of. Physical activity is paramount to being healthy and certain parts of Japanese lifestyle simply promote good health through physical activity without even trying.
Never In One Place
The people of Okinawa are some of the most active in the world as they will spend their days gardening, taking care of animals and taking hikes. Most meals in Okinawa are eaten on the floor mats and even just having a meal is sort of an exercise as they are forced to sit down and get back up a lot during such simple activities. The lower body strength they develop in the young years really helps with any falls or injuries in later life as we know how often western elders will hurt their hips in the shower. The time spent outside under the sun naturally increases the concentrations of Vitamin D in Okinawans which promotes healthier bodies and bones.
Living like a Japanese in modern western society may be hard, but we certainly recommend taking at least some parts of their lifestyle and philosophy and incorporating in in your own. Your body and mind will certainly thank you for it.