TIL Okinawa, Japan has the highest rate of centenarians (4-5x the avg. Western country). Reasons include their traditional diet (with lots of “shell ginger”), exercise, & a supportive community. Younger Okinawans have adopted a Western diet/lifestyle, and their life expectancy has gone way down

Read more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852742/

What do you think?

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  1. Important to note: while the Okinawan lifespan is largely attributed to the “Okinawan diet”, the other reasons are important too. Here’s what the [linked study](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852742/) talks about:

    * Genetics. This isn’t fully understood, but the Japanese have a prevalence of certain alleles that may help protect them from common diseases.
    * Physical exercise. Most Okinawans are active walkers & gardeners, even into their 100s. Also since they use tatami mats instead of chairs, they are regularly standing up from the floor, which is a great exercise for body strength & balance (which also helps prevent them from falling). Most Okinawan centenarians are able to exercise without help from others, including dance & martial arts.
    * [Maoi / Social Support Groups](https://www.bluezones.com/2018/08/moai-this-tradition-is-why-okinawan-people-live-longer-better/#). Okinawa is home to “maoi”, a tradition where lifelong friends support one another socially, financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Children are paired up to help one another, and also pairs are grouped together for wider support. Some maoi last 90+ years! This system absolutely reduces stress, thus increasing overall health & longevity.
    * Eating style. Traditionally, Okinawans don’t eat until they’re full, but approx. 80% “complete satiety”.
    * Low-calorie diet. Traditionally Okinawans don’t eat much meat, refined grains, saturated fat, sugar, full-fat dairy products, and even salt (the flavoring from [shell ginger](https://mobileimages.lowes.com/product/converted/716946/716946016264.jpg) means salt isn’t needed). Shell ginger also has tons of anti-aging & antioxidant properties.

    It’s not just one of these factors that help elderly Japanese, but all of them working together. And all of these factors (except maybe genetics) are in decline with younger Okinawans who adopt a Western diet *and lifestyle*. Western life doesn’t just including a high-calorie diet, but a relatively sedentary & solitary lifestyle, without much communal support, or mental health.

    In other words, if you want to live longer, don’t just pick one of these things. Don’t just eat less calories, or eat more shell ginger. Put a premium on your mental health. Prioritize (supportive) friends & family, making sure to give as much as you take. Western society claims that we’re all individuals, but humans are a communal species. We’re all in this together, and together, we can live long, healthy lives.

  2. I’ve read that those stats may not be accurate. There are Japanese who don’t report the deaths of elders so as to keep receiving government benefits. Not sure if your article accounts for that.

  3. Okinawan Diet sure, but just as likely, the citizens don’t report that their family member passed away when they are supposed to. The Japanese government gives a monthly stipend to their elderly residents after a certain age. It is an incentive for family members to take care of their older relatives. Some family’s depend on this stipend after a while, and some less principled people simply let the world think their elderly relatives are living on a farm somewhere upstate where they can frolic and play with other elderly people.

    A while ago, the Japanese Government tried to do wellness checks on their elderly citizens and discovered they can’t find around 233,000 people. Some of the relatives come clean about the deaths and were forced to pay back the stipend, but others remain adamant about the farm upstate thing.

    So it could be the diet, but just as likely they are lying about their dead relatives.

    Here are all of the sources I used for this so you can’t accuse me of making it up when you downvote me.

    [https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-11299646](https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-11299646)

    [https://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/world/asia/15japan.html](https://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/world/asia/15japan.html)

    [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/sep/10/japenese-centenarians-records](https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/sep/10/japenese-centenarians-records)

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