How the Japanese live longer

In loving memory. Chie Mihata Cron 9/19/1933-3/25/2013

In loving memory. Chie Mihata Cron 9/19/1933-3/25/2013

How did Nagano, located in the Japanese Alps, which had the highest rate of strokes and heart attacks become a region with the longest life expectancy in the world? Nagano with its harsh winters and far-away locale, makes it difficult to access food so the villagers pickled their vegetables. “One survey found that Nagano residents on average were consuming 15.1 grams of salt per day – that’s nearly three times the daily maximum in U.S. dietary guidelines” (1). The Japanese government took action by getting volunteers to provide lectures in towns where people frequented on the dangers of salt and “home visits to measure the salt content in daily meals and make dietary recommendations” (1). These programs to help their people by reducing salt intake, limiting miso soup, encouraging daily walking by adding walking trails, creating community walks, and delaying retirement, created this amazing turn around (1).

We know that salt is bad, but how bad is it? Study after study shows that show you can be healthier, feel and look younger by dietary changes and consistent exercise, which solidifies the fact that we really need to limit ham, chips, pretzels, soy sauce, cheese, olives, canned soups, packaged foods, and overall salt intake. I’ve seen many people who had strokes, half their faces permanently paralyzed, their lives completed changed and hindered since they cannot perform the same daily tasks as before. It’s heartbreaking.  

As for continued employment for health benefits, that would depend on how much you love or hate your job. Some jobs may induce a stroke! In my opinion, people would be less stressed, healthier and happier if they worked fewer hours, did yoga or gentle stretching, went on daily leisurely walks, and enjoyed meals from scratch. That’s what I do and I have fewer colds and more energy than before.


  1. Source: Article titled “Secrets from the Longest-Living Place on Earth” from the May 2014 issue of AARP Bulletin/Real Possibilities. Pgs. 16 & 18.

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