But there is a very particular phenomenon in Japan, precisely in Okinawa, where a diet has been discovered that allows the inhabitants of the archipelago to maintain perfect health, without any discomfort, even in old age. This diet has been called the Okinawan diet . Thanks to this diet, the Japanese archipelago enjoys a large part of the population in very good health and over a hundred years old.
What is the Okinawan diet?
The diet referred to by the inhabitants of the Okinawan archipelago is very simple and is strongly influenced by Taiwanese and Chinese roots: very few carbohydrates, a lot of fish (almost always fresh), vegetables and fruits. In fact, this archipelago consumes 3 times more fish than what is consumed on average in all of Japan.
Recent studies have shown that the population of these islands tends to be thin and consume 10% fewer calories than the rest of Japan and even 40% less than in the West. A strong point of this diet is the type of cooking of the food. In your kitchen, nothing is fried or grilled, as they generate carcinogenic compounds. They prefer to steam although they also make a lot of boiled or sautéed foods.
How does the Okinawan diet work?
A daily menu includes three main meals and low calorie snacks such as fresh fruits and vegetables are allowed. The Okinawan diet is based on a very low calorie content of around 1,200 calories per day , 20% less than other diets. A mantra of this diet is that you should never feel full . It is better to stop when you are not full and focus your energies on something else.
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The presence of green, yellow and orange vegetables allows the body to introduce a high concentration of antioxidants that help fight premature aging.
Additionally, limiting fats and sugars leads to a reduced risk of stroke or heart disease . In the Okinawan diet, fats are practically nil.
Foods used in the Okinawan diet
The Okinawa archipelago is located in the stretch of sea between Japan and Taiwan. Therefore, the inhabitants can enjoy a large quantity of fresh fish, which is almost never lacking on the tables of local families.
Meat and dairy products are consumed very rarely and a diet based mainly on plant-based foods is preferred: sweet potatoes or rice (not so much, as these islands are not farmed) are the main source of carbohydrates. Vitamins and mineral salts are taken thanks to the large amount of vegetables (most of them raw) and fruits.
Proteins, on the other hand, come from legumes (especially soybeans) and tofu , a food that unites the whole of the East. In Okinawa, food is not seasoned with salt but with spices and, in particular, curry, which has anti-aging properties. The spirit is practically banished from the table.
The archipelago of the centenarians
The Okinawa archipelago is part of the so-called “Blue Zone”, an area where life expectancy is significantly higher than that of any other country. The average life expectancy is 81.2 years and centenarians are approximately 20% of the population. In addition, the centenarians here are in excellent health, they often continue to work and it is easy to find them running. In fact, along with a healthy diet, physical exercise is essential to keep fit.
Japan is the oldest nation with twenty centenarians for every one hundred thousand inhabitants, however, the Okinawa archipelago with these data is also an exception for the Japanese themselves. Here it was observed that cardiovascular diseases are reduced by 80% compared to the United States, and have 40% fewer cases of cancer.
In addition, in the United States and Japan the risk of developing senile dementia becomes quite high after the age of eighty, while in Okinawa the increase is much more contained.
We listened to Dr. Yuri Del Guidance , a dietitian and nutritionist, to find out if there are risks in this diet:
«The Okinawan diet is very complete and varied. The only contraindication is if the quality of the food is affected. For example, if the soy consumed were of the GMO type, it could be a problem, or if the catch comes from the sea, it would alter the caloric and beneficial intake of the food ” .
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