Japan has long been recognized in the medical community as one of the healthiest countries in the world, if not the healthiest.
The country has the highest life expectancy rate out of all countries, with an average of 82.73.
This is coupled with extremely low mortality rates due to chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Many studies have been conducted to explain exactly why this is; and it all seems to point to the diet as the primary reason for their longevity and exceptional health. Now if you are someone who is looking to be healthier, I strongly urge you to learn some lessons from the Japanese diet.
Let’s first talk about what the Japanese diet consists of and why it will be beneficial to you:
An Introduction to the Japanese Diet
Many are familiar with sushi. And although sushi is a staple food of the Japanese, their diet consists of much more. But in the interest of brevity, I will narrow the Japanese diet down to the six following principles:
- Eat a lot of fish, fruits, and vegetables (especially roots). Scientists have found that omega-3 fatty acids inside fish may be one of the main reasons for the low rate of heart disease in Japan.
- Practice portion control. Eat just the right amount to be satisfied. Don’t overindulge in your meals. This prevents you from filling up your body with excess calories you won’t be able to burn off.
- Eat a lot of miso soup. Although miso soup is high in sodium, it is also rich in fiber and protein, as well as other nutrients and minerals. A study done by Japan’s National Cancer Center in 2002 showed that eating three or more bowls of miso per day lowered women’s risk of breast cancer by as much as 40%.
- Cooking lightly to keep the use of oil and preservatives to a minimum. This is a great way to keep unhealthy carcinogens and chemicals out of your body. It is also a great way to lower the amount of calories in each meal.
- Accompany meals with green tea. A publication from Harvard Health showed that green tea’s flavonoids can aid in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Cancer and Heart Disease Statistics: Japan vs. the World
The core principles of the Japanese diet above go a long way in promoting a healthier heart and lowering the risk of cancer. According to a study published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2008, the United States has a cancer incidence rate of 335 for every 100,000 people. According to the same sources, Japan has a cancer incidence rate of 201 for every 100,000 people. And you know what the funny thing is? Japanese people smoke and drink, a lot. As a matter of fact, Japan has the second biggest cigarette market in Asia, next to China.
In terms of heart disease, the World Health Organization states that heart disease is responsible for 216 deaths per 100,000 people in Slovakia, 152.6 deaths per 100,000 people in Ireland, 122 per 100,000 people in the United Kingdom, and 110.9 per 100,000 people in Australia. What about Japan? Just 30 deaths caused by heart disease for every 100,000 people.
Numerous studies been conducted on this “Japanese paradox” and the conclusion is uniform; it’s in the diet.
So if you are a big fan of healthy eating or want to lose some weight, try eating like the Japanese do.
You’ll be mighty impressed by how much better you feel. The point of this post is not to convince you to completely change your diet or imitate the Japanese way of life. Rather it is to convince you to start eating healthier; and it just so happens that the Japanese diet is extremely healthy.
However, it is almost impossible to completely replicate a Japanese diet outside of Japan. But what you can do is integrate fish into your weekly diet, try some miso soup, drink some green tea, eat more vegetables, and eat less red meat. That is essentially it. Isn’t that so much less restrictive than some of the fad diets the fitness and health industry comes out with?
About the Author
TK is a blogger who owns Fitz101, a site that promotes scientifically backed methods and theories on fitness, health, and exercise. If you are interested in eating healthier, check out Fitz101’s guide to eating healthy. You can also check him out on Google + if you need to get in contact with him.