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Will you see 100?

Michelle Peden
Michelle Peden Contributed

IF you could live to 100 years old, would you want to in your current body?

How lean and nimble are you? Can you keep up with your kids or better still the grand kiddies?

Well in a tiny little prefecture in the very south of Japan that's exactly what's happening!

Okinawa is an island off the bottom of Japan. Its claim to fame is that it's known for the largest number of healthy active centenarians anywhere in the world. A centenarian is a person who has lived through a whole century, in plainer terms - someone over the age of 100 years old!

In 1975 this little island and its people became the centre of a wide-scale long-term population study which has shown that Okinawan people have possibly the longest life and health expectancy in the world. The study found these Okinawan Centenarians were lean and youthful looking - wow, can you imagine it, good looking grannies?

They also seemed to have escaped chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer, diseases which have claimed the lives of many mainland Japanese. Breast and prostate cancers are rarely heard of in these older Okinawan populations and obesity is pretty much non-existent! So what are they doing so differently than the rest of the world?

Whatever it is, they are onto something.

The average Okinawan's diet is completely different from the high protein low carbohydrate diets of our modern western society. The Okinawan diet is super rich in complex carbohydrates and plant-based foods, and lower in fat.

The study found approximately 70% of the Okinawan diet is from fruit, vegetables and whole grains. They consume at least seven serves of vegetables per day and the same amount again in whole grains.

They eat loads of green vegetables which provide calcium, as they consume very little if any dairy. They also eat two to four servings of fruit each day. Fourteen percent of their diet is derived from soy or seaweed products.

They eat fish three times a week - about 11% of their diet. Meat, poultry and eggs make up a minimal 3% of their total food intake - quite the opposite to the meat and three veg that most Australians eat.

When comparing the Okinawan diet to the Australian diet the difference is the density of calories.

While there is no limitation on the amount they eat, the foods they do consume have a high nutrient content and their low calorie content makes it easier for the body to absorb.

They eat the same amount of food, but it's nutritionally better for them.

Alcohol is consumed by the Okinawans however it is usually just a glass a day.

The Okinawan lifestyle is not all about food. These people actively take part in daily martial arts, dance, gardening or they simply walk. The key to their life is staying active!

So if you want to get leaner and fitter, and be able to run after your children or your children's children, then consider the Okinawan way of life.

The transition to this eastern way of life can easily be adopted in Western societies regardless of whether you are truck, office or home bound.

In short eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

Consume foods which are high in nutrients and energy but low in number of calories. Eat less meat, poultry and eggs. And get active. It's pretty simple.

Topics:  healthy living, michelle peden


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