Japan is famous for its high life expectancy and low chronic disease rates. This is partly due to genetics, but also largely influenced by diet and lifestyle habits. In this essay, I will discuss some of the good health practices that are common in Japan.
One of the key features of the Japanese diet is seaweed, which is a type of marine plant that grows in the ocean. Seaweed is rich in minerals, antioxidants, protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart, brain, skin, and immune system. Seaweed also provides iodine, which is essential for the thyroid and metabolism. Seaweed can be eaten as a snack, added to soups and salads, or used to wrap sushi.
Another important component of the Japanese diet is seafood, which includes fish and shellfish. Seafood is high in protein and low in saturated fat, and provides omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting effects. Seafood also contains vitamin D, selenium, zinc, and iodine, which are important for bone health, immunity, and thyroid function. Seafood can be eaten raw, cooked, or fermented. A study found that high seafood consumption was linked to lower levels of heart disease among middle-aged Japanese men.
A third good health practice in Japan is drinking green tea, which is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Green tea is rich in polyphenol antioxidants that protect the cells from oxidative stress and inflammation. Green tea also contains caffeine and L-theanine, which enhance alertness and relaxation. Green tea can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and body fat. Green tea also supports the gut microbiome, which influences immunity and mood.
A fourth good health practice in Japan is eating until you are almost full, or hara hachi bu in Japanese. This means eating until you are 80% full, rather than overeating or starving yourself. This practice helps regulate appetite, weight, and metabolism. Eating until you are almost full also allows you to enjoy your food more and appreciate its quality and flavor. Eating slowly and mindfully can also help you recognize your hunger and satiety cues better.
A fifth good health practice in Japan is practicing some forest bathing, or shinrin yoku in Japanese. This means spending time in nature and immersing yourself in its sights, sounds, smells, and textures. Forest bathing can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and blood pressure. Forest bathing can also boost immunity by increasing the activity of natural killer cells, which fight infections and cancer.
A sixth good health practice in Japan is maintaining strong social circles, or moai in Okinawan dialect. This means having a group of friends or family who support you emotionally, financially, and physically. Social circles can provide a sense of belonging, purpose, and happiness. Social circles can also encourage you to adopt healthy behaviors, such as eating well, exercising, and quitting smoking. Social circles can also help you cope with stress, loneliness, and grief.
In conclusion, Japan has many good health practices that contribute to its well-being. These practices are not only beneficial for the physical health, but also for the mental and emotional health of the Japanese people. They reflect a culture that values harmony, balance, and respect for nature and others. By adopting some of these practices, we can learn from the wisdom of Japan and improve our own health and well-being.
By Royd Guyon
6 healthy habits to live a longer life from the Japanese – TODAY. https://www.today.com/health/6-healthy-habits-live-longer-life-japanese-t188563
Healthcare in Japan: A guide to the Japanese healthcare system.
Healthcare in Japan: A guide to the Japanese healthcare system – Wise