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The Okinawa Diet

It's a fact that Japanese are among the healthiest in the world, especially the inhabitants of Okinawa, a subtropical island in the South of Japan. The Okinawans hold the world record of longevity and centenarians. Researchers around the world reach the conclusion that the Okinawans' longevity is due principally to strict dietary rules and a healthy lifestyle.

The Okinawa diet consists of three main parts : food, exercise, optimism and relaxation.

Fresh vegetables and fruits at ease
The Okinawans start their meal with a salad. In fact, they eat six servings of vegetables and one serving of fruit a day.
They have vegetables to every meal: Chinese cabbage, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, hechema (similar with zucchini), small cucumbers, carrots, turnips, radish, onions, leafy greens.
In order to keep their nutrients, the Okinawans cook the vegetables only for a few minutes in hot broth and eat them almost raw. Their favorite meal is champuru, a mix of tofu, seasonal vegetables and melon.

In Okinawa, soya is consumed at least two times a day. Studies have shown that soya not only protects against heart diseases and participates in the prevention of some types of cancer, but it successfully replaces meat and dairy products.

Whole grains
Their diet includes six to seven servings of whole grains every day, in the form of rice, pasta etc. As gruau at breakfast, and with a bit of soy sauce, but also in sushi and other makis, rice is a must. It is nourishing, furnishes complex carbohydrates, it's a very good source of energy, and it doesn't contain fats.

Okinawans eat fish two or three times a week and very rarely they eat meat. Raw or cooked, in sushi or sushimi, fish represents their main source of animal protein. Low in calories, rich in minerals and vitamins, fish (oily fish, such as salmon and tuna) furnishes Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

Water and green tea
Green tea is Okinawans' favorite beverage, that's why is drunk all day long, hot or cold, and during or outside of meal times. . Rich in antioxidants and diuretic, green tea helps in the detox process. They also drink eight to twelve glasses of water everyday.

Tai-chi, relaxation and social spirit

Tai-chi, relaxation and social spirit
Okinawans are pretty active persons, they get plenty of exercise, they take their time walking, getting fresh air and practice tai-chi (traditional martial art) and relaxation. Relations between friends, neighbors and members of the same family are very tight, the yuimahru (an Okinawan concept connoting a spirit of mutual support ) spirit is well anchored. It is not a solitary life, but a life with clubs, associations, and a strong solidarity amongst the population.

Okinawans also believe that everything in life works itself and that's why we need to maintain positive, optimistic attitude.

“Hara Haci Bu”

“Hara Haci Bu”  Finally, one of their secrets is what is called “Hara Haci Bu”, meaning stop eating when one feels 80% full. So they don't eat more than they need. Our body needs a few minutes to transfer to the brain that we are full. If we overeat and make a 20 minutes break, hunger will disappear.

Typical Okinawa day menu

Breakfast : rye bread, cottage cheese, apple, tea
Lunch : brown rice, pasta with basil and soybeans, mushroom salad, tea
Dinner : fish, tofu, cucumber dressing, papaya, tea.

Tags: Okinawa diet, dietary rules, healthy lifestyle, japanese diet, leafy greens, soya, whole grains, brown rice, calories, vitamins, minerals, green tea

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