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If You Want To Live Longer . . .

August 5, 2019

Nanako Komine

Do you enjoy a long life? If the answer is yes, maybe you can imitate what Japanese diet. According to a statistics by the World Health Organization, Japanese live the longest in the world (See Figure 1). There are four keys that lead to this result.

Figure 1: Ranking of the Average Life Expectancy in the World

Source: World Health Organization in 2016

What the Japanese Eat

Japanese usually eat many soy food (tofu, natto, miso and shoyu), fermented food (nukazuke, natto, dried bonito, sake, mirin, miso and shoyu), dairy products (cheese and yogurt), seasonal vegetables and fruits and fresh fish and seaweeds.

First, soybeans contain not only vegetables protein and calcium but also functional components such as isoflavones. In such areas as people often eat soy food, there are fewer people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and heart deaths . Second, ferment food has a high nutritional value. In particular, vegetative lactic acid bacteria such as nukazuke (vegetable pickled in rice bran paste) and natto are relatively resistant to stomach acid and can be reached alive. Fermented foods not only help to improve the intestinal environment, but it also improves immunity. Third, dairy products, especially yogurt, contains good bacteria and vitamin K that work effectively in the intestines, and it helps to reduce the risk of onset diabetes and prevents influenza. Fourth, vegetables and fruits contain various nutrients. For example, vitamin A, vitamin C, carotene, dietary fiber and calcium. It is important to eat a lot of vegetables. But it’s said that some 90% of the nutrition that should have been taken may be missed. It’s important to know how to handle each vegetable so that it can be taken without waste.

There are four points you must follow in order to not miss the nutrition in vegetables. The first is how to cut. Depending on whether it is cut finely, cut into large pieces, or peeled off, the nutrition that can be taken changes greatly. The second is the cooking method. Depending on the ingredients, the absorption changes determined by cooking methods. The third is preservation. Depending on the vegetables, the place in the refrigerator will be different. The fourth point is choosing wisely. Remember the trick is to choose powerful vegetables. Lastly, eating a lot of fish is also a great eating habit. Fish contain amino acids, magnesium and polyunsaturated fatty acid such as DHA and EPA. Magnesium is also greatly affected by obesity and lifestyle diseases. People who are taking enough of it have less obesity, lower blood pressure, and less cholesterol. In other words, eating a lot of fish can reduce risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

The Way To Cook

There are many cooking methods such as grill, boil, stew, fry, stir-fry and steam. Especially grilling, stewing and steaming are low in oil consumption. Thus, it is low in calories.


Ichiju-sansai is a traditional daily meal patterns of Japan. The meaning is one soup and three dishes (and rice). It contains five major nutrients like carbohydrate, protein, vitamin, lipid and mineral. Thus, it can say that Japanese have an ideal balanced diet.


Do you know the proverb of “Harahachibunme” means that eat until you are 80% full instead of completely full. The reason why this eating habit is good is that eating moderately prevents overeating. And a level of body fat, blood sugar and neutral fat are reduced. Therefore, it can expect a pleasant effect on your body.

In conclusion, if you live longer, it’s important to imitate what Japanese eat, the way to Japanese cook, the traditional daily meal patterns of Japan and policy of “Harahachibunme”. However, modern Japanese eating habits are unbalanced and have a lack of nutrition. The is affecting restaurant foods business, tending to change from Japanese style meals to Western style meals and simplifying meals. Everyone in the world include Japanese should review their eating habits.





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