Talk of Japan and everyone thinks of their amazing culture, strong social welfare system, and to say the least, their longevity. Japanese are bar none having the world highest life expectancy. So why are they living longer than the rest of the world? What’s their secret diet they have that we do not eat? How often do they workout that we miss? Or, is it in their Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)? Whatever. The Japanese really do hold all the answers to these questions and even more. So what’s the secret formulae to breeding octo- and nonagenarians? Dear friends, let’s expose you to Japan’s long-life living secret.
Related media: Japan’s Secret To Long Life
The Secrets Of Longevity
In a recent report that observed mortality statistics among G7 countries, in comparison, Japan had the longest average life expectancy. This is primarily due to their low mortality rates that stems from ischemic heart disease and cancer — in particular, breast and prostate. The report, which was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and also in Nature, researchers found that life expectancy in Japan has only increased over the years.
According to Shoichiro Tsugane of the Center for Public Health Sciences in Tokyo, these low mortality rates are, because of the low prevalence of obesity among Japanese. The low intake of red meat (specifically saturated fatty acids), high intake of fish (specifically n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids), plant foods such as soybeans, and high intake of non-sugar beverages like green tea, are some of Japan’s secrets to longevity.
A typical Japanese diet is made of plants and sea food, whereas a typical Westerner’s diet is that of meat, milk and dairy products. This is what researchers believe might be their secret to longevity. But there’s even more associated to the Japanese than just what they eat. Their entire lifestyle and livelihood are all reasons why there are thousands of octo- and nonagenarians living in Japan. Here are eight of their habits that might help you live well over your eighties.
#1. Ikigai: To Seek Joy And Purpose
This is an ancient Japanese philosophy that preaches about seeking joy and purpose in life instead of mere existence. Its all about having to live a life well fulfilled. This isn’t about finding instant gratification, but to ultimately define your purpose in life, by doing what you love and loving what you do, that leads you to discover your full potential. This aims at defining what you can do best in life, and focus more of your energy into doing what you’re good at. According to psychologists, this leads you to a greater sense of self-esteem.
#2. Blame It On Genetics
Of course, Japanese have an inherent genetic advantage to their longevity, too. There are two genes in particular — DNA 5178 and ND2-237Met genotype — that are common among the Japanese population. This is typically found among those with a longer lifespan, who are capable of passing it on from generation to generation. These genes seem to enhance their lifespan by preventing several age-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, strokes, mental illness, cardiac arrests, cardio- and cerebrovascular diseases among others.
#3. They Walk Quite Often
Despite being one of the world’s automobile manufacturers, Japanese ditch their cars for a walk. They prefer staying active, trekking, taking the stairs, and squats. Ever heard of seiza? That’s the kneeling with you shins tuck beneath your bottom. Or Shuudan Koudou? That’s also a synchronous style of walking. And only in Japan would you find such incredible feat of physiological brilliance embedded into their lifestyle. The average Japanese would rather do a physical activity than to drive, sit, or even stay cozy indoors.
#4. “Hara Hachi Bun Me”
This is the Japanese style of eating. This concept dictates that you must only eat until you’re 8 out of 10 parts (80 percent) full. It often takes roughly 25 minutes for your brain to signal your body that you’ve been fed enough with all the required nutrients, and you must stop eating. This is the Japanese “reminder to stop excessive eating” that could lead to overheating. They often encourage that you eat smaller portions, and also adopt a slower eating style. As a matter of fact, bowls made in Japan are made smaller to ensure this habit.
#5. A Better Healthcare System
It is no wonder that the Japanese have one of the advanced healthcare systems. It is a normal things in Japan to see health campaigns that advice people to take up a healthy lifestyle such as reducing salt and sugar consumption. Japan took serious public health concerns in the 1950s and 1960s (right after World War II) by creating a healthy and hygienic culture, and this investment is paying off. The Japanese are fastidious about their hygiene and healthy practices. Landfill sites are turned into eco-friendly parks for recreation.
(Fun fact: Did you know that, aside Sumo wrestlers, it is a crime to grow fat in Japan? Doubt our word? Google it).
#6. Their Healthy Eating
“Hara Hachi Bun Me” is their eating style, and would you believe they have eating manners, too? Of course, its Japan, y’all. Japanese families eat together with everyone sitting on the floor, and using chopsticks that makes it even slower. Family meals are lean and balanced, consisting of mostly staple foods like sea food, omega-rich fish, seasonal fruits, rice, whole grain, soy, miso, tofu, and their green veggies. Japanese meals are low in saturated fats and sugar, and are packed with vitamins and minerals. Sounds yummy? Bon appetite.
#7. They Traditionally Drink Tea
Obviously! Apart from their eating style and manners, we’re very sure that this one didn’t surprise you. Or did it? Who hasn’t heard of the occasional tea parties in Japan? We have. According to studies, this ancient tradition of regularly drinking tea among Japanese is highly rich in antioxidants that boost their immune system, fight cancer cells, aids digestion, enhances metabolism, and regulates blood pressure. There are elements in the tea brew that enhances cellular health that reduces aging and deterioration.
#8. Taking Care Of Their Senior Citizens
With such a growing population, Japanese consider all family members as part of their social structure. No one is segregated, especially the senior citizens. Grandparents are part of the family in Japan, and most families prefer them at home instead of sending them to retirement home as in western countries. Japanese grandparents wish to spend time with their grandchildren and impart some values to them. There is a sense of security of this family union, after all, it benefits both the young and old. Who’s missing granny and grandpa?
Which of these habits would you pick up? Let us know.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Tue, Dec 07, 2021.