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The Longevity Secret: Japanese Diet

Apr 09 2020 - Blog

There are many types of diet plans out there, like the highly raved ketogenic diet where only low-carb and high-fat foods are allowed, or the myth-like blood type diet that recommends different food consumption based on your blood type. Each method is often claimed to be superior over others.

Unfortunately, despite the promise of fast results, most diet plans do not stand the test of time because they are too restrictive in omitting certain foods or food groups. Not only does this disrupt the body’s need for balance, in worse cases it may jeopardise your health. Today, let us introduce you to a healthier alternative — The Japanese Diet.

The Japanese are known for their long life expectancy. According to a 2018 report, the average life expectancy in Japan was 81.25 years for men and 87.32 years for women. Based on statistics collected through the years, life expectancy figures in Japan have and are expected to continue rising steadily. A recent report also revealed that Japan ranks first among developed countries with a record low obesity rate of 4.30%.

One of the main factors contributing to the Japanese’ health and longevity is their dietary intake. Sky Premium rounds up the key Japanese eating habits you can adopt for a healthier Good Life.

1. Basis of the Japanese Diet

The Japanese Diet is a healthy balance of whole foods and plant-based foods based on the principle of minimalism. The diet regime emphasises the use of fresh and seasonal ingredients like fish, seafood and vegetables and minimal use of processed, instant, junk, canned and high-calorie foods.

Think of Japanese cuisine and carbohydrate staples such as rice and ramen naturally come to mind. A rice-dependent diet may seem heavy on calories but thanks to the quality and quantity of Japanese rice, it leaves less stomach for fattening snacks hence associating with a lower risk of heart disease. Even for breakfast, most Japanese prepare a full meal with generous portions of rice, fish and greens accompanied with miso soup, seaweed and tea. This charges them with enough energy to keep going in the day. On the other hand, dairy, bread and red meats make up a smaller part of the Japanese Diet.

​​2. Natural Flavours

The culinary cornerstone of Japanese cooking lies in their skillful use of fermented seasonings such as soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, sake and miso — a staple ingredient rich in essential minerals, vitamins and an aid in boosting immunity and lowering cholesterol. Along with dashi broth, these natural flavours impart a satisfying taste in replacement of artificial seasonings and the heavy use of salt and sugar. Setting itself apart from sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavours, Japanese cuisine led to the discovery of a fifth dimension of taste — umami.

The Japanese also use lighter and healthier cooking techniques like steaming, simmering or raw consumption, which maximises the retention of nutrients. Other methods include boiling, grilling, and less commonly, frying.

3. Visual Appeal

Another important aspect of the Japanese Diet is the presentation of food, made to appeal to the eyes and believed to create harmony between flavours. Because eating is a sensual experience, visual appeal is seen just as important as taste, which explains why the Japanese love to style their food on aesthetically pleasing plates and dishes.

4. More Quality, Less Quantity

Unlike the Western practice of consuming in large portions, the Japanese are taught to appreciate the feeling of satisfaction with less food. In Okinawan culture, this is known as “hara hachi bu / 腹八分目”, a Confucian teaching that translates to “eat up till you’re 80% full”. This practice of dining mindfully teaches the appreciation of food by eating slowly to savour every bite. This also gives your brain time to receive the signal that you are full.

5. Fruit and Tea Appreciation

In Japan, a meal without fruit as the dessert is unlikely. The Japanese are known to appreciate fruits as a luxury and customary gift. 

The Japanese are also big fans of matcha tea and this love for matcha has spread worldwide! Studies have found that incorporating matcha in diet routines brings us many health benefits. Rich in antioxidants, matcha works as a protector to our liver, lowers the risk of diseases, boosts brain function and metabolism, potentially prevents cancer and promotes heart health.

6. Lifestyle Habits

Technically this isn’t a part of the diet, but it does play a major role in helping the Japanese maintain healthy figures. Morning exercises, walking, climbing stairs or riding the bicycle for errands — if you intend to pick up one more habit from the Japanese, you should no doubt pick this one.

In summary, the idea of eating healthy is not to keep you from enjoying fattening treats, but to consume in moderation. Without excluding any food groups, the Japanese Diet fulfils the needs of a healthy balanced diet. It prioritises the use of quality fresh ingredients, more fish, less meat, more fruits and vegetables, less seasoning and a whole regime of healthy eating habits.

Ever wondered how a Japanese woman in her 40s can appear more youthful than her actual age? Get started on The Japanese Diet with Sky Premium today!

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