As we begin the new year and you are looking for ways to improve your health, diet, and life expectancy look to Japan as inspiration as they have mastered how to live a longer healthier life. For the 28th consecutive year, Japanese women have proven to have the highest life expectancy in the world.
So, what’s their secret and how can you implement Japanese habits, Japanese health tips, Japanese diet secrets, and the overall Japanese healthy lifestyle into your daily life.
Japan has made great leaps and bounds in the treatment for cancer, stroke, and heart disease, but their life expectancy can be attributed to a healthy diet, minimal obesity, and the ability to manage stress which I think is most important.
Japan, offers what may be the world’s best blueprint for a healthy life. Not only do Japanese men and women routinely rank at the top of lists detailing humanity’s longest and healthiest life spans, but, in the most recent World Health Organization study, Japanese women came in first with life expectancies of 87.0 years.
The average Japanese citizen is expected to live until about 73 “without any major illness or disability” whereas, in America, we can expect to confront several major illnesses by the ripe young age of 65.
One of my favorite things about travel is that it gives us a glimpse into how other cultures live and allows us to incorporate those healthier lifestyles into our own daily lives. The Japanese habits below will have you living a healthier life in no time.
Here Are Some Ways You Can Adopt Japan’s Healthy Lifestyle
1: Rice over wheat
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like rice should be a healthy alternative to wheat. After all, it’s very calorie-heavy. However, rice contains fewer carbs per serving and more vitamins and minerals than wheat does. A rice-heavy diet is associated with a lower risk of heart disease than a wheat-heavy one, and rice doesn’t come with the common gut irritation that the general population has in reaction to wheat. Consuming more rice is definitely one the Japanese habits you should incorporate in your daily life.
So, next time it’s your turn for an easy dinner, choose stir fry over spaghetti.
2: Portion control
Japan doesn’t shun junk food by any means, which you’ll notice if you ever travel there. The corner stores are full of exciting candy, ice cream, and salty snacks. They like their treats just as much as any other country. However, all things are enjoyed in moderation.
Japanese people are much more likely to enjoy their treats when they go out, rather than digging through a pint of Ben and Jerry’s at home. And you’ll notice that even though there are plenty of fast food options and burger joints out there, the portions are much smaller than what you’ll get at an American restaurant.
Traditionally, Japanese food is served in a set of small dishes, to keep all the different components separate. This means that what looks like a vast spread of food will still be smaller than the huge plate that we load up during a potluck or an all-you-can-eat buffet. So, enjoy your treats in moderation and use smaller plates vs eating foods high in fat and calories.
3: Loving health foods
Sure, there are plenty of us who have tried in the past to adopt a morning routine of green smoothies. But how much do you actually enjoy that liquid kale? For the most part, we just plug our noses and down it, telling ourselves it’ll pay off eventually.
And maybe it will. But it’s much harder to set a pattern of eating this way when we’re just gritting our teeth. To contrast with this, most people in Japan have a passionate appetite for healthy foods that are off-putting to the average American. For example, many Japanese people enjoy a serving of natto in the morning, a dish made of fermented soybeans that are definitely an acquired taste but could have a superfood-level power to reduce heart disease.
Green tea (and matcha, it’s super-concentrated cousin) is packed with nutrients and antioxidants. However, instead of drinking it as a supplement, Japanese people eat it as a treat, and enjoy matcha-flavored… well, everything. And then there, sashimi, which is a special dining-out experience, and yet it’s one of the leanest and healthy meals that you could eat.
4: Sustainable living
A number of laws in Japan regulate environmental impact and strive to keep the natural world healthy and accessible. In a way, green living in Japan has to do with communal cooperation, a hallmark of Japanese culture. It’s a necessity when so many people live crowded together in cities. That’s why you’ll find people in Japan conscientiously sorting their trash, and doing their part to recycle.
Not only does this reduce waste and help local ecosystems, but it also reflects an awareness of community and connection with the whole, a mentality that can greatly increase well-being and longevity.
5: Walking… everywhere
Japan’s major cities are simply not made to be driven around in. The Japanese public transportation system is second to none and the vast majority of people rely on buses and trains to commute. And although this system is great, it still requires a good amount of walking and standing, which means that most Japanese individuals get in an hour of exercise a day without ever stepping foot in a gym because an active lifestyle is a norm in Japan. This is one Japanese habit you should definitely pick up if nothing else.
6: Zen living
We can’t say that everyone in Japan practices Zen meditation regularly, but it is the birthplace of Zen Buddhism and all the mental health practices and philosophy that began there. For the most part, this simply means practicing mental wellness, along with physical. The characteristics of Zen philosophy include avoiding the rush and instead living with mindfulness at the moment.
In fact, that’s why Zen meditation isn’t just done by sitting and humming on a rock. Zen meditation can occur while weeding the garden, cooking a meal, or repairing a bike. Meditation and mindfulness practices reduce stress, which, as we all know, is a killer.
7. Be Your Child’s Lifestyle Advocate
Japanese parents inspire their children to try many different fruits and vegetables that children in the U.S. wouldn’t even think about trying for a million bucks.
One of the main Japanese lifestyle tips is modeling healthy eating and not over-reacting when a child doesn’t want to try a new food or doesn’t finish everything on the plate.
The final Japanese health tip is that food education is part of their daily curriculum. Students visit local farms, learn about nutrition, and cooking which helps them understand the benefits of healthy eating and living a long prosperous life.
I would love to hear from you about how have you used other cultures to live a healthier lifestyle? If you need cost cutting travel tips click here.
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Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.