7 Japanese Secrets to Long and Healthy Life
Japan is popular across the globe for its highest population of the oldest people in the world. It is not just a coincidence that this small Asian country has 6 centenarians per 10,000 people and 318 confirmed and verified supercentenarians (as per 2015). The lifestyle, food, culture, geography, and community bonding are some concrete factors that make Japan home to a massive oldest population in the world.
So, what exactly are some diets and traits that make the Japanese live so long, and can we incorporate the same into our own life- without moving to Japan? Absolutely yes! Here are some major cultural and cuisine factors of Japan that might be a huge reason behind their longevity:
Make Seaweed a part of your daily diet
Seaweed is almost a staple part of Japanese cuisine. In fact, according to reports from trusted sources, the Japanese population eats as much as 100K tons (yes, that’s right!) of 20+ different seaweed species every year. What’s even more remarkable is that the seaweed consumption is highest in Okinawa island of Japan that is world-famous for its very high number of 100 years old (and above)!
How does seaweed promote longevity and health?
Now, let’s cut through the matter and come to the point that matters- Eating seaweed may not be the standalone way to enjoy a century-plus life but it does play a vital role in a longevity-focused meal plan.
- Seaweed is a rich source of protein (packing up to 9 grams in each cup). It also saves you from thyroid thanks to the decent content of natural iodine.
- It also acts as an excellent regulating agent for balancing the levels of estrogen and estradiol thus saving you from some threatening diseases.
- Seaweed contains only a small volume of calories thus promoting a fit physique
- It is also a rich source of antioxidants- the friendly compounds that can reverse the change related to aging
- Many types of seaweed also contain natural compounds that promote healthy cellular growth while protecting from various cells-related diseases
Excited already? Here’s a spoiler though- Just like some peculiar cheese, the taste of seaweed may put you off and spoil your meals. On a more serious note eating seaweed beyond a threshold quantity will overload your system with nutrients (yes they are so “very” nutritious!). Just like malnutrition, overnutrition isn’t good for your body either. So, consult a certified nutritionist/dietician to determine the safe quantity of seaweed you can consume every day/week.
Eat fermented food for potent health benefits
Upon closely studying Japanese cuisine you would realize that it comprises many fermented food items. Miso, soy, bean paste, and various other fermented ingredients are a staple feature of any Japanese cuisine- whether it is a domestic home-cooked meal or a chef-special restaurant dishes. Right from world-popular soy sauce seasoning and pickled dishes to more specific Japanese delicacies like tsukemono, Japanese certainly have a “big heart (and appetite)” for fermented foods.
What are some longevity and health benefits of fermented foods?
- Fermented foods contain a good amount of probiotic content that soothes various disorders like Crohn’s disease, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Fermented foods significantly reduce the probabilities of cardiovascular disorders
- These foods increase the helpful gut bacteria that promote overall gut health
- Gut bacteria also enhances your immune system and thus fermented foods also have a solid role to play in strengthening the immune system
An interesting fact about Japanese fermented food
The main fermenting agent for traditional Japanese food is a very small bird called Koji. In case if you haven’t guessed it already, Koji digest the food partially thus making it easier to be digested for human beings. A more valuable benefit of Koji-digested food is that it fortifies your immune system preparing it to fight diseases more efficiently. A healthy immune system is a vital asset, especially during the advancing age.
How can you buy traditional Japanese fermented food?
Thanks to the globalization of food it is not difficult to buy fermented Japanese cuisine from any departmental store near you or you may even purchase it online if you need.
How can you accommodate fermented Japanese ingredients in your food?
There are several ways to enjoy Japanese fermented foods- enjoy an adventurous food trail by marinading your foods with miso paste or stick to a more time-tested approach like seasoning your sauté or noodles – the choice is completely yours.
Sing a song to live for long
Karaoke might be among populist trends for the singing industry but for Japanese, it is an intrinsic part of their daily life. For the uninformed, Karaoke refers to singing popular songs alongside the instrumental music on a microphone and people sing the songs keeping pace with the same. It might also have a solid part to play in determining the longevity of Japanese people.
How does singing helps in living a long and healthy life?
Doesn’t it seem bizarre that singing helps in increasing the lifespan? It does and that’s why we decided to first investigate the scientific link between singing songs and living long. As per research on thousands of men conducted by Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine and Osaka University, it was found that while singing you need to breathe deeply which improves the nervous system’s health.
- Along with this tangible benefit singing also helps in improving your reaction to stressful circumstances due to the positive impact of applause that you receive after the performance.
- Moreover, it was found that modest drinking sessions during Karaoke also improve your heart health.
- Singing can be compared to effective aerobics for enhancing the cardiovascular system and accelerating blood oxygenation rate that results in better alertness
- Singing improves the internal communication of our brains like a strong interaction among various parts of the brain related to music, language, visual imagery, feelings, and even motor capabilities. It improves the connection between different brain parts and makes your brain healthy.
- Voice is a pure reflection of our psychological health and mood. It is intrinsically related to our identity and thus singing boosts self-esteem.
Enjoy a long, warm bath on a regular basis
Japanese consider bathing as a therapeutic activity and duly respect their bathing time and ritual. Japanese don’t just take bath, they enjoy every moment of it- just like we enjoy every sip of a refreshing tea. Especially the hot soak is widely popular as a medicinal and effective way to stay healthy.
While the country was already familiar with the benefits of baths as early as the 17th century, modern scientists also did some well-documented experiments tangibly proving the positive role of baths in treating dermatological issues, neuralgia, and rheumatism. So, next time don’t just take bath but “enjoy” it wholeheartedly.
What are some health benefits of bathing?
- As per long-duration research on 61000 Japanese people, it was found that regular bathing lowers down the risks of heart diseases as the warm bath is an excellent workout for your heart making it beat faster
- Bathing- when done submerged in a bathtub- can soothe nervous systems and lower down anxiety and stress levels
- Submerged bathing also helps in making you feel better
Spend some time with nature
Despite ultra modernization, Japanese people have not forgotten or tempered with their ancient culture and one of its ideologies is “respect nature”.
In fact Japanese governance has also taken some serious initiatives to make concrete policies to turn this nature admiration into a citizens’ duty/responsibility. Mountains abound in Japan and people feel proud to measure the heights of some of the tallest mountains with many mountaineers aged on the right side of 80!
What are some old age benefits of spending time with nature?
- As per official research carried by experts it has been found that parleying with nature can strengthen your comprehending capabilities and also improves creative stamina- the two vital aspects that determine your life quality. Talking about the figures, it can improve the key brain functionalities by up to 50%.
- Moreover, basking in nature offers you’re a good volume of Vitamin D that protects you from many diseases including old-age disorders like arthritis, cognitive slowdown, and autoimmune disorder. Thus it prepares you physically and mentally to enjoy- not suffer through- your old age.
- Well-documented research suggests that nature activities like wood hiking, mountaineering, or just a stroll to the nearest park can significantly reduce the stress levels
- It also reduces the probabilities of developing allergies or asthma
- Nature can also have a medicinal effect to protect you from diabetic and cardiovascular issues
Laugh your way through your life
Laughter is another major quality of Japanese that allows them to comfortably sail through 80, 90, and even 100 years of their age. Japanese people smile a lot and they are incredibly witty. Even the octogenarian can surprise you with the wit and sense of humor. It naturally allows them to stay happy all their lives and enjoys an awesome aging experience. Moreover, the research proves that laughing offers a host of health benefits. While laughing you release endorphins- a process that reduces depression levels strengthens your immune system, and also offers you better resistance against pain. It certainly explains why the Japanese don’t only live for long but also live happily for long.
How does laughter increase your life span?
- According to well-documented studies, laughter accelerates the activity of killer cells in our blood and increases the capabilities of our saliva to destroy free radicals
- It also helps in reducing the leaves o f cortisols- a hormone associated with stress
- When you laugh your brain releases endorphins the friendly agents that assist in controlling pain
- Laughter also promotes the use of oxygen by increasing breathing
- It also improves the heart rate thus making your heart healthier
Drink “healthy” green tea
Tea is enjoyed every morning and evening in almost every country in the world. But did you ever thought about creating a dedicated space in your house just for enjoying the tea celebration! That’s what the Japanese do. A small hut-like construction is built where people celebrated the tea ceremony in a distinct style. Aptly shaped like a hut of a hermit, this structure allows tea drinkers to concentrate fully on their tea- free from all the stress of home, work, and the world!
One more remarkable thing is that most Japanese take green tea- unlike other countries green tea is not an option but the staple tea of an average Japanese household. Well here’s an interesting fact.
How does tea help in reducing health risks and increasing life expectancy?
- As per the research studies the Green tea is a mine of health benefits. Most remarkable benefits include lower possibilities of cardiovascular disorders, boosting cognitive capabilities, and optimizing the antioxidants population to fight oxidative stress.
- Tea leaves are mines of EGCG- the most powerful polyphenols that significantly reduce the probabilities of many chronic problems including heart diseases
- As a robust form of antioxidants, the catechins found in tea can also lower down the risk of osteoporosis
- A study on 40000+ Japanese people proved that those who enjoyed tea regularly had a very low probability of cardiovascular diseases
When it comes to longevity the country of Japan enjoys a distinct position. There are various contributing factors behind their long life and happy life quality. The best thing is that with a few efforts you can also incorporate those positive factors into your daily routine and make your life better, longer, and happier. All you need is to be ready to change your daily routine- for the better.