WHAT HAVE THE TRADITIONAL OKINAWANS BEEN DOING DIFFERENTLY?
Many theories abound that the secret of the Okinawa people lies in their genetic makeup.
However, recent epidemiology studies on the Okinawa population suggest that there are three very important factors influencing their longevity – the typical Okinawa plant-based diet, the islanders cultural attitude toward eating, and also the importance of longevity foods such as purple sweet potato, seaweed and Okinawa fucoidan. We explore these in more detail below:
1. THE OKINAWA DIET- MAINLY PLANT BASED
In Okinawa, there is a widely held cultural belief that ‘food is medicine’. The typical Okinawa diet is largely plant-based, rich in vegetables including nutrient rich sweet potato, seaweeds, bitter melon, tofu and herbs and spices. Meals of stir-fried vegetables, sweet potatoes, and tofu are high in nutrients and low in calories.
It is this low calorie, high antioxidant content of the diet of traditional Okinawans that is linked to longer lifespans.
Traditional Diet Food Pyramid In Okinawa
2. HARA HACHI BU
You can’t talk about the Okinawan diet without mentioning hara hachi bu. Hara hachi bu is based on a Confucian teaching that reminds Okinawans to stop eating when they are 80 percent full.
This strategy pays off. Okinawans typically eat about 1,200 calories a day, a lot fewer than the average 2,000 recommended in the U.S. But because the foods they consume are so nutrient-rich, they’re able to stay healthy and live longer on less.
Mozuku Harvest In Okinawa
3. LONGEVITY FOOD (SUCH AS OKINAWA FUCOIDAN)
The attitude of the Okinawans to their food is unique and their everyday diet has contained a number of elements with medicinal qualities connected with longevity.
The Okinawan ‘longevity food’ is the ‘good for the health’ food that the long-lived Okinawans are eating in their usual meals every day. Common longevity foods include sweet potatoes, soya, mugwort, turmeric, goya (bitter melon), brown rice, mushrooms and, importantly, seaweed.
Seaweeds have been a dietary staple in Okinawa for millennia. The Okinawan people have always included a number of different varieties of seaweed in their everyday diet and in large amounts. They provide a filling, low-calorie, nutrient-rich boost to the Okinawa diet.
More than a dozen varieties including mozuku, konbu, wakame and nori make up an indispensable part of the Okinawa cuisine. Rich in fucoidans, carotenoids, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, and iodine, these particular species of seaweeds harbour medicinal properties. They have long been used in Asian cultures to promote wellness, as well as to treat arthritis, colds, flu, and even cancer.
Researchers believe that the near-total absence of dietary seaweeds and fucoidan results in the shorter life and health spans of Western cultures.
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
Whilst a traditional Okinawa diet and lifestyle might be difficult to achieve today (and even the younger Okinawans may not have the same life expectancy as older generations), the medicinal benefits of Okinawa fucoidan can still be experienced with our restorative fucoidan seaweed extract supplements.
Eco Ora fucoidan seaweed supplements deliver a dose of fucoidan in line with the traditional Okinawa diet and is specifically formulated to help promote everyday wellness and vitality.
Rejuvenation You Can Feel
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Images & References
Caloric Restriction, the Traditional Okinawan Diet, and Healthy Aging: The Diet of the World’s Longest-Lived People and Its Potential Impact on Morbidity and Life Span by B.J Willcox, D. Willcox, H Todoriki & M Suzuki
The Okinawan Diet: Health Implications of a Low-Calorie, Nutrient-Dense, Antioxidant-Rich Dietary Pattern Low in Glycemic Load by B.J Willcox, D. Willcox, H Todoriki & M Suzuki
What The ‘Blue Zones’ Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Huffington Post Article by Wm Scott Page
History and Characteristics of Okinawan Longevity Food, Hiroko Sho Director University of The Air Okinawa Study Center, Okinawa, Japan
Why Japan’s Longest-Lived Women Hold the Key to Better Health, Dan Buettner, Huffington Post