It’s all about longevity – learn from the Japanese

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It is a well-known fact that the Japanese enjoy much better longevity than many other communities. There are a number of reasons why the Japanese live longer, healthier lives. Read on to find out what really work for them. And see which of these reasons are ones that you can adopt for yourself. Team RetyrSmart

It’s all about longevity – learn from the Japanese

Here are some factors that experts credit for longevity of the Japanese people:

  1. “Hara Hach Bun Me”: 

    This is a popular saying in Japan. It means eat only until you are 80 per cent (8 out of 10 parts) full. It usually takes at least 20 minutes for the brain to get the signal from the body that it needs to stop eating as it has had its fill of nutrients. By then, one ends up eating more than required and in the process, increasing the load on the guts. Japanese people go by the ‘hara hachi bun me’ clock as a reminder to stop eating.

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  1. Better Health care system and cleanliness:

    The Japanese have an advanced heath care system. Vaccination programmes are seriously implemented for all individuals since birth, universal health insurance and regular health check-ups ensure timely care. Regular health campaigns that guide people to incorporate healthy lifestyles like reducing salt consumption, free treatment for TB are a norm. Japan’s investment in public health in the 1950s and 1960s with creating a health and hygiene conscious culture is paying off, says a research paper in Lancet. The Japanese are fastidious about hygiene related practices. Landfill sites are not a menace but are turned into eco-friendly parks.

  2. Everything is designed to make mealtime scared:

    The Japanese serve smaller portions and encourage slower eating style. Portions are served on smaller plates, families eat together and at a dedicated dining set up, not sprawled before a TV set or while typing on the cell phone. They prefer sitting on the floor and using chopsticks, making the eating process a lot slower.

  3. The food they eat: 

    The Japanese diet is lean and balanced, with staple foods like sea-weeds seasonal fruits, omega-rich fish, rice, whole grains, tofu, soy, miso, and green  and raw vegetables. All these foods contain lesser amounts of saturated fats and sugars and are loaded with vitamins and minerals thus reducing the risk of cancers and heart disease. Pickled, fermented and smoked foods help the gut digest food better. Japanese cuisine is low in calories and saturated fats, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Japanese diet has ensured that the obesity rate is impressively low in Japan. The soups they eat, the steaming and stewing help retain nutrients. Recently, a team of scientists in the US have identified distinct signatures in the gut microbiome that are associated with either healthy or unhealthy ageing trajectories. The work is set to be published in the journal “Nature Metabolism”.

  1. The tradition of drinking tea:

    The Japanese people love drinking tea and have woven it into their culture. Matcha tea is popular across the archipelago of Japan. Specially grown and processed tea leaves that are highly nutritious and loaded with anti-oxidants are used for the green tea brew. This ancient drink is rich in antioxidants that boost the immune system, help fight cancer, aid digestion, boost energy levels and regulate blood pressure. Matcha tea is said to preserve membrane cells and slow cell ageing.

  2. Walk, walk, walk:

    The Japanese people hate sedentary lifestyles. The young and old alike love to walk. Sitting on the floor comes easy to an average Japanese. Toilets too are designed for squatting, not sitting, thus ensuring that the core stays engaged – also healthier for the bowels and your muscles! Commutes are not sedentary either. Students and employees walk or cycle to the train station, standing on the train, then walking to work. The traditional socialising position of kneeling is known as ‘seiza’ and involves resting on one’s shins and tucking the feet underneath one’s bottom. This – it turns out – is just what the doctor ordered for ensuring that the strength and flexibility of the body is maintained.

  3. It’s the genes, dear:

    Apart from good healthcare and a great diet that have helped the Japanese to increase their lifespan, studies suggest they may have a genetic advantage due to two genes in particular – DNA 5178 and ND2-237Met genotype – that is prevalent among the Japanese population. It is a lucky draw though and not everyone in Japan will inherit this genetype. This set of genes helps block the onset of some age-related diseases like type 2 diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases.

  4. Loving care to elders:

    Like in India, it is also traditional for people in Japan to care for elderly family members rather than sending them to care homes as is the norm in many western countries. The psychological benefits of living with your family in old age means that people are happier and live longer. The elderly also participate in teaching the younger population things that only grandparents can. The symbiotic bond seems to help ageing gracefully and securing childcare.

  5. Ikigai, Japan’s equivalent to ‘joie de vivre’:

    The Japanese live with ‘ikigai’ – an ancient philosophy that preaches taht one must seek some joy and purpose in life instead of merely existing. Find your ikigai or ‘your reason to live’, they believe. It is essential for life fulfilment and that you can find joy and purpose in many aspects of your life such as helping others, eating well, and being surrounded by loving friends and family.

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