Tips for Thought

Japanese Secrets to Living a Long Life

The Japanese people seem to have it in spades when it comes to living longer. According to the World Economic Forum, Japan has the highest rate of centenarians. Okinawa island, an island in southern Japan, is known for its high rates of centenarians with impressive lifespans. Experts have studied several factors on long lives and attributed the following to why Japanese people live longer:

1. A Healthy Diet.

The Japanese diet for long life is clean and balanced. Some of their staple foods include seaweed, fish rich in omega-3, rice, and vegetables. Many of their foods also contain less saturated fats and sugar, reducing the development of cancers and heart disease. They also include some pickled and fermented dishes, which improve digestion. For drinks, Japanese people love drinking green tea, which is highly nutritious and filled with antioxidants.

Aside from the food itself, the Japanese way of preparing food is also essential. Steaming and stewing ingredients help retain their flavor and nutrients, while stir-frying in minimal oil helps control the amount of fat.

Besides cooking, the Japanese way of eating is also essential. While most people eat until they feel full, many Japanese people practice “Hara Hach Bun Me,” which means eating only until you’re 80 percent full. This practice is helpful since it usually takes twenty minutes for the brain to signal to the body that it needs to stop eating. This practice also prevents one from overeating which can lead to weight gain.

2. An active lifestyle.

Japan is rarely a sedentary country. Both young and old citizens love to walk, which is essential for toning the muscles and joints. Commuting systems are rarely sedentary either due to many persons standing on the train. Additionally, Japan has countless bike lanes where people can cycle from one place to another. With smart city and community planning, it’s easy to see why the country has very low obesity rates.

3. A safe and stable community.

Okinawa has a unique community in a way that promotes social togetherness. Socializing is important because it boosts happiness, prevents loneliness, and improves a person’s mindset.
In Okinawa, many residents have social groups that create solid support networks. Many people talk to their neighbors, have tea together, and even join exercise groups.

4. A purpose for living.

Ikigai is a Japanese philosophy that encourages one to seek one’s life purpose. Instead of merely existing, it teaches you how to thrive regardless of your situation. Many people in Okinawa find their ikigai because it’s not material or power-driven. Ikigai goes beyond worldly success and helps keep you busy with the things that give your life meaning. From connecting to nature and surrounding yourself with the people you love, you too can find your ikigai.

It’s always possible to live a healthy lifestyle, regardless of where you are. When you find your ikigai and learn to nourish your physical, mental, and social needs—you’ll find that life comes at you fast, and before you know it, you’re now 100.