Obesity has been increasingly cited as a major health issue in recent decades. While many industrialized countries have experienced similar increases, obesity rates in the US are among the highest in the world.
Though this problem is spreading widely as years go by, there are still health-conscious groups and even individuals who promote healthy living and healthy eating. Women in particular, are conscious about their weight and figure. Those who are concerned with their health, should pick up some healthy habits from Asia, particularly from Japanese women.
It was said that Japanese women have proven to have the highest life expectancy in the world. Their secret? Aside from major leaps in terms of cancer, stroke and heart disease treatments, their longevity can be attributed to a healthy diet, minimal obesity and the ability to manage stress.
First, healthy food. What do Japanese women eat? The ingredients simmering in a Japanese kitchen are a simple variety of foods eaten on a consistent and daily basis. Their menu consists of fish, sea vegetables like seaweed, soy, rice, fruit and green tea. Seaweed contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, iodine, vitamin C, fiber, beta-carotene, and more. The Japanese like tuna, mackerel and salmon, all of which contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that’s good for the heart and helps reduce the risk of breast cancer. Green tea, according to studies, prevents heart disease. Research says that people who drink six cups of tea a day have a 36 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to those who drinks one cup per day. Green tea has antioxidants, and is even said to help prevent osteoporosis.
The Japanese enjoy eating home cooked meals daily. They grill their fish, simmer their veggies and have sliced fruits for dessert. They also always go for what is fresh and what’s in season to assure that what they put in their tummies are healthy. Also, sweet desserts are eaten less often in Japan and in much smaller portions compared with the US and other countries. Most importantly, they have a different mind-set about food. While some are more concerned with dieting and weight issues, the Japanese are encouraged to enjoy a more diverse variety of food without diet concerns.
We know now what they usually eat, but what else do they do on the table? Japanese take their time to eat. Word of advice? Eat slower. In other parts of the world, and for some people, every meal is like a contest whereas here in Japan, they savor every bite, eating with their chopsticks in a slow pace. According to science, it takes 20 minutes for the brain to recognize fullness so if you keep a slow pace and take your time to taste if it really is sushi you’re eating, you’ll be more likely to eat until you’re satisfied rather than until you’re full. Plus, bloating? not really pleasant.
Japanese men and women use bowls and small plates. When you use smaller dinnerware instead of large bowls, platters and plate, it’s easier to practice getting smaller amount of food.
Finally, the Japanese practice physical and mental fitness. Think martial arts and meditation. Yoga can help reduce stress, as it wards off dementia, while meditation preserves areas of the brain that are associated with memory and concentration. Exercise is part of the Japanese daily ritual. They are active people who incorporate lots of incidental exercise everyday. Also, they have created an environment for physical activities like biking around town, walking and hiking to stay healthy and active.
So there we have it: fish, green tea and yoga–it’s all about knowing what you eat and living a healthy lifestyle. As the saying goes, health is wealth. Let’s all be rich by keeping our bodies healthy.