I’ve been always enthralled about Japan’s global distinction of being a country where people live long, healthy lives – with Okinawa, in particular, the island with the most centenarians in the world. What are the secret formulae of Japan’s nonagenarians and centenarians? What is the secret to the healthy longevity the Japanese enjoy? Is it in their genes, the food they eat, their lifestyle, their attitude, or some other endemic factors that help Japan’s citizens gain extreme longevity?
In an article titled, “Eight Things The Japanese Do That Help Them Live Longest,” published November 18, 2021 in timesnownews.com, Kirti Pandey enumerates some key factors why Japanese men and women have been able to live a long and healthy life, thus:
1. Ikigai. The Japanese live with ‘Ikigai’ – an ancient philosophy that preaches that one must seek some joy, meaning and purpose in life instead of merely existing. It’s about having a practice that guides you towards fulfilment. It is not about instant gratification but surely about defining your purpose in life, your personal mission, and discovering your full potential. The aim is to define what you can best contribute to the world, what you’re good at, and what you enjoy doing.
2. It’s coded in the genes. Apart from the good health care and a great diet, the Japanese also have a genetic advantage due to two genes, in particular – DNA 5178 and ND2-237Met genotype – that is prevalent among the Japanese population. These genes seem to enhance the lifespan by blocking age-related diseases like type 2 diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases.
3. Ditch the car and walk. An average Japanese person loves to stay active, walk, take the stairs, or squat. They have Seiza – the traditional socializing position of kneeling that involves resting on one’s shins and tucking the feet underneath one’s bottom; or Shuudan Koudou, the Japanese art of synchronized precision walking. Their toilets too are designed for squatting, not sitting, thus ensuring that the core stays engaged – also healthier for the bowels and your muscles.
4. Hara Hach Bun Me. It’s the Japanese concept that one must eat only until you are 80 percent (8 out of 10 parts) full. The Japanese serve smaller portions and encourage a slower eating style. Portions are served on smaller plates.
5. Cleaner surroundings and good health care setups. The Japanese have an advanced health care system. They are also fastidious about hygiene-related practices. Landfill sites are not a menace but are turned into eco-friendly parks.
6. Mealtime principles. In Japan, families eat together sitting on the floor and using chopsticks, making the eating process a lot slower. 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.
7. Tradition of drinking tea. Japan’s ancient drink is rich in antioxidants that boost the immune system, help fight cancer, aid digestion, boost energy levels and regulate blood pressure. Some say the elements in the tea brew enhances cell health and help neurons fight age-related deterioration.
8. Care for the elderly and ageing. In Japan, there’s no segregating or discarding the ageing members of the family. Most grandparents get a life amidst family members – and families prefer to have them at home rather than sending them to care homes as is the norm in many western countries. It is normal for grandparents to spend time with grandchildren and impart some traditional wisdom to them. The sense of security that this staying together brings, benefits both the elderly and the young ones.
Verily, it’s worth learning the Japanese longevity secrets and embrace a happy, meaningful, and fulfilling life.