10 Health And Longevity Secrets From Okinawa

Contrary to popular belief, only 20-30% of our life expectancy is actually determined by our genes. This means that in order to live longer, you have to make conscious adjustments to your lifestyle. Rather than give up the ghost and dismiss any chances you have for a long life, simply because your family doesn’t tend to get past 80, you should switch focus on the things you can change, such as your diet.

The inhabitants of a small island off the coast of Japan, Okinawa, have some of the highest life expectancies on the planet, and this isn’t down to their genes. Indeed, one of the major reasons the islanders consistently live to be at least 100 years old is because they have made adjustments to their lifestyles. If you want to find out more about their secrets to a long life, let’s take a look at a few of their habits that you can easily imitate.

Okinawan’s Don’t Overeat

In the west, we have a tendency to overeat until we feel absolutely stuffed. Not content with feeling merely satisfied, we feel the need to finish off our plates until there is zero trace of food, before ordering a whopping desert. Call it greed or call it living life to the max; whatever you call it, our desire to feel stuffed is really bad for our health.

Okinawans don’t feel the need to eat until they’re bursting out of their shirts and pants. Instead, they abide by a practice called hara hachi bu, which basically dictates that they only eat until they feel satisfied. Because of this, their daily intake of calories is much lower than ours.

Okinawans Eat A Lot Of Vitamin E

Because of their love of vitamin E, Okinawan’s are much less susceptible to dementia or senility than everyone else around the world. Vitamin E handily prevents stress, and can also reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease. The islanders are careful not to eat too much vitamin E, though, because it can cause excessive bleeding.

Brain foods that Okinawans can’t get enough of include tofu, spinach, kale, nuts, sunflower seeds, shrimp, broccoli, and avocados. Get on them all and you’ll be as focused as you ever wanted to be.

Elderly Okinawan’s Are Revered

There is an alarming trend among westerns that sees elderly people consigned to demeaning care and rest homes. Although giving your ageing parents the chance to live out their final days among people of their own age might seem like a good idea, it isn’t really beneficial to their emotional and physical wellbeing.

In Okinawa, elderly people are held in much higher esteem, and are seen as an important part of their communities. Many move in with their children and in-laws, where they feel valued as citizens even as their age advances. Living in comfort where they are respected boosts their emotion and physiological wellbeing, which can ensure greater longevity.

Okinawan’s Love Plants

Okay, so westerners love plants too. The great French artist Claude Monet had a huge, famous garden devoted to plants, and your mom and dad are probably always cultivating their back garden. Perhaps you have a few plants in your window that you water 3 times a week. Lovely.

But for Okinawans, plants are not purely decorative, but instead form a crucial part of their diet. Indeed, any elderly Okinawan will tell you that they have been eating plants all their lives. A plant-based diet is low in calories and high in nutrients and antioxidants. The next time you make a stir-fry, remember this.

And, Yes, They Love Their Gardens Too

Okinawans don’t just eat their plants. Like westerners, the islanders do enjoy cultivating their gardens too.

Growing and tending to a garden is a fantastic way to get more physical exercise, and it can also help to reduce stress. If the only “garden” you’ve got at the moment are those flowers in the window, it might be time to mow the lawn and start growing some plants.

Okinawan’s Have Active Social Lives

Okinawans are not reclusive hermits who spend their entire days shunning people and sunshine. Instead, they embrace their friends and like to spend times doing things with other people.

Okinawans Spend Lots Of Time Outdoors

Okinawans have a bit of an advantage over bigger nations when it comes to the amount of time they spend outdoors. After all, the hustle and bustle of the city and office jobs are not exactly the order of the day on this small island. As such, the islanders spend as much time as possible enjoying the sunshine, soaking up enough vitamin D for stronger bones and overall healthier bodies.

The more time you spend outside (in your garden, for example), the greater your optimal levels of vitamin D.

Elderly Okinawans Continue To Be Active

If you want to live as long as the Okinawans (or if you want to outlive them!), you need to continue to be super active, right through old age.

In the small island of Okinawa, it isn’t uncommon to see elderly people roaming around on motorbikes, practicing karate, or taking dance lessons.

We’re talking about folk who are 90 or 100 years old here.

Indeed, in Okinawa they abide by the principle that there is “no rest for the wicked.” To them, the idea of kicking back with slippers and a pipe is a silly notion.

Okinawans Practice Profound Respiration

In the west, we have come to believe that the key to a healthier lifestyle is breaking a tremendous sweat 4 days a week in the gym. We obsess over “leg day”, and can’t go a week without a morning jog that nearly kills us.

In Okinawa, there is no such thing as a gym, nor do the islander’s bother to jog. Instead, they focus on tai-chi, and activities such as gardening. These are positive, low-level activities that are not only healthy for their bodies, but also eliminate stress.

Okinawans Are Very Positive About Life

You might think that it’s easier for the inhabitants of a small island to be positive about life than it is for workaholics living in whirlwind cities like San Francisco.

But adopting a positive mental attitude is something that anyone can imitate. Okinawans have really low levels of stress, and while this might well be as a result of their environment, there is no reason why you can’t focus on bringing more positivity to your own life.

Stay healthy!

One Comment

  1. Rachelle
    October 18, 2015 at 6:13 am

    Amazing tips!

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