Whether you want to live until 100+ years of age or look and feel better inside and out – eating like an Okinawan can do just that. This lifestyle of eating includes staples such as sweet potatoes (rich in carotenoids) and seaweed chock full of Omega 3’s – just waiting to nourish your body. When studies suggested that a typical Okinawan tribe member lives for around 110 years of age, I was all over their longevity secrets…
The Okinawans have one simple saying: “Hara Hatchi Bu,” which means eat until you are 80% full. The above statement is very important for two crucial reasons.
#1. Our bodies take time to digest and register the amount of food we have just consumed. At times, we are guilty of consuming more than we had actually wanted to. In turn, this leaves us feeling full and bloated. The Okinawan way of life preps the body for sensible eating and slower digestion.
#2. The more we eat, the more we age. Unfortunately, the digestion process wears on our body over time. The harder our bodies work to break down large portions of food the shorter our lifespan. That being said, it is a very good reason to skip the second piece of pie and allow for slow, peaceful digestion. For those of us who still binge eat late at night, the Okinawan diet and lifestyle should be inspiration to us all.
I may only be in my 20’s BUT anti-aging and youth has always fascinated me. In the following paragraphs, I will touch on a variety of foods that are consumed daily by the Okinawans and how we can all reap the benefits of this Japanese diet!
One of my absolute favorite foods – the sweet potato! Rich in carotenoids, this starchy little guy contains lots of vitamins A, C, and E, ideal for looking young. Another great reason to consume sweets – Lycopene! Lycopene, also found in tomatoes, is a protection powerhouse for our body’s cells, helping to prevent against cancer and slew of other yucky diseases. I enjoy mine with a sprinkle of cinnamon (a spice shown to protect against UV damage) and a little drizzle of olive oil!
The benefits of this dark green plant will come as no surprise to most. Seaweed is drenched with minerals and spirulina, to stop that aging clock in its ticking tracks! Kombu, hijiki, mozoku and kotsubushi are four types of seaweed utilized by the Okinawans on a daily basis. Although these specific seaweeds may not always be readily available to us, a simple alternative would be nori! Nori is easy to incorporate into almost any meal and you can find it at your local whole foods market. Just one single sheet contains more omega 3’s than two whole avocados. Omega 3’s provide our skin with an invisible moisture barrier – ideal for these dry, cold, winter months. I know what you’re thinking – it’s time to hop on this!
Yellow and Orange Fruits
The Okinawan fruit staples include pineapples, papayas, mangoes, guavas, passion and citrus fruits. These fruits, which are loaded with Vitamin C, have long been shown for their healing benefits for our skin (the bodies largest organ) but also for major improvements in our overall appearance and youth. Another amazing benefit is that pineapples contain bromelain, a KEY enzyme proven to slow down tumor growth. This could definitely explain why the Okinawans have such a low cancer risk rate!
“Beans, Beans, The Musical…”
Beans provide us with maximum amounts of fiber, ideal for eliminating the way nature intended! More eliminations means less bloat and with summer vastly approaching, I think we can all agree this is a splendid bonus. Additionally, if you are still consuming meat on occasion, beans are a good protein substitute when veering more towards a veg-friendly lifestyle. Whereas meat is digested fairly fast by our bodies, beans are digested at a slower rate, keeping us satisfied longer!
Variety Is The “Spice” of Life.
The Okinawans consume a plethora of spices ranging from fennel and mugwart in their teas to hihatus (a type of pepper) and turmeric in their cooking. Turmeric has been long touted for its miraculous anti-inflammatory effects, and when mixed into a paste, gives our skin a beautiful, youthful glow! Additionally, mugwart, which has been said to have sedative effects, relaxes and calms the body. The calmer we are, the longer we live. Remember, stress can suck the life out of you!
Although the Okinawans typically stick to a mostly plant-based diet, they do consume fish and incorporate very small amounts of meat into their diets. If you’re like me and still enjoy some sardines on occasion, enjoying these little minnows in very small portions, rather than daily, is much better for your body. Swap that red meat for some fresh fish and start feeling the difference!
Remember, this lifestyle works for a reason. Okinawans eat very little sugar, meat, dairy and eggs. The less acidity and inflammation within your body– the longer you LIVE. Eat light to live long my friends!