Okinawa – Where People Live Longer

The World’s Longest Lived People

You may have heard about the Pacific archipelago of Okinawa, Japan, where people live for a really, really long time.

Okinawa is often called the “Land of the Immortals” by the Chinese, and it is also known as one of the five Blue Zone hotspots around the world, where people live measurably longer.

In fact, Okinawans over the age of 65 enjoy the world’s highest life expectancy. Men are expected to live to about 84, while women are expected to live to almost age 90. 

This is likely because Okinawans suffer only a fraction of age-related diseases that kill Americans – less cardiovascular disease, breast and prostate cancer, and less dementia seen among similarly aged Americans.

Okinawa Fucoidan - Achieving Wellness & Longevity

Comparison In Mortality Rates From Heart Disease & Cancer In Okinawans, Japanese & Americans

So Why Is This? 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 seaweed.

The Okinawa Diet – Mainly Plant-Based

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

Okinawan Longevity Food & Hara Hachi Bu

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 seaweed.

You also 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.

Seaweeds & Okinawa Fucoidan

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, 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.

Mozuku Harvest In Okinawa

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. Our High Strength Fucoidan delivers a dose of fucoidan in line with the traditional Okinawa diet and is specifically formulated to help promote everyday wellness and vitality.

Images & References
  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. What The ‘Blue Zones’ Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Huffington Post Article by Wm Scott Page
  4. History and Characteristics of Okinawan Longevity Food, Hiroko Sho Director University of The Air Okinawa Study Center, Okinawa, Japan
  5. Why Japan’s Longest-Lived Women Hold the Key to Better Health, Dan Buettner, Huffington Post

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