Why do Japanese people 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 made “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 eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and limit, or avoid, chips, pretzels, soy sauce, olives, canned soups, packaged foods, and reduce 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, all because of their high salt, oil covered, animal fat diets.

Japanese people have lived longer with hardly any heart disease because their diets were primarily from rice and vegetables. Once fast food restaurants, like McDonalds arrived in Japan, Japanese health declined and the Japanese people got fatter and sicker.

The Japanese people work long into their old age and attribute continued employment to health benefits, but that depends on how stressful and enjoyable the job is. People are less stressed, healthier and happier if they work fewer hours, get more sleep, practice yoga and gentle stretching, go on daily leisurely walks, avoid dairy and animal products, eat more fruits and vegetables, and enjoy home meals made from scratch.

  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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