Want to know the secret to a long and healthy life? The people from the subtropical Japanese islands of Okinawa may have the answer. The Okinawans have the longest life expectancy in the world and enjoy good health right into their old age with significantly lower rates of the common chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and dementia that are so prevalent in Australia.
The Okinawans also have strong bones, sharp minds, slim bodies, low stress levels and excellent mental wellbeing.
So what's their secret?
Variety… 80 percent of the Okinawan diet is based on plant foods, and they include up to 38 different foods daily so they definitely get an amazing range of the phytochemicals (naturally occurring compounds) we need for good health. The Okinawans concentrate their diet on fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, soy and omega-3 rich foods.
Stay active…The Okinawans remain active throughout their lives, either through walking, gardening, traditional dance, farming or other forms of physical activity.
Connect… Another important factor in the Okinawan way of life is the close social connections they maintain with family, friends and the wider community, as well as upholding a sense of spirituality in the way they live their lives. Research has shown that a feeling of belonging to a community or family group not only brings happiness and fulfilment, but may also result in a longer, healthier life.
Will it work for me?
The Okinawan lifestyle is a very sensible approach to healthy living. For some ideas on how you can apply the Okinawan Way to your life try our tips below.
||Eat a good variety of nutrient-dense foods. Aim for 30 different foods each day. Find out your food variety score try our "Food Variety" quiz.
|Plant food power
||Base your diet on plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, soy products and wholegrain breads and cereals. Try including some of these commonly eaten Okinawan superfoods: tofu, beansprouts, sweet potato, cabbage, onions, soybeans, nori (seaweed sheets) and carrots.
||Avoid eating highly processed foods. Aim to fill your trolley with around 80 percent whole plant foods foods as close to their natural state as possible.
||Enjoy lots of exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. Try different ways to be active take a dancing lesson or fly a kite in your local park.
||Stay connected with people. Is there someone you haven't called for a while, friends you'd like to share a meal with, or a family member you want to talk to? Contact them and arrange to catch up soon!
"Eat good food, walk everywhere and enjoy your work!" 95-year-old healthy Okinawan.