Do the Okinawans hold the secret to longevity?

I’m going to bend your ear with a story about a group of people who inspired me to live better – the Okinawans, a community of people living on an island in southern.

I first heard about this group in a psychology class, where we studied the physiological and psychological aspects of aging. At the time, I was a busy university student who lived on fast food, massive amounts of caffeine, and, oh yeah, beer. That class caused me to cast a critical eye on my then lifestyle.

When I first heard of the Okinawans, it was recently discovered that this group, in general, has an amazingly high life expectancy — the highest in the world in fact. They also have a remarkable number of Centenarians (people who live to be 100 or older), and have few instances of the serious diseases that have plagued us in the west, namely cancer and heart disease. The Okinawa Centenarian Study (OCS) set out to figure out just what made these people live longer. Was it their diet? Exercise? Spirituality? Good genes?

The study found a number of elements of the Okinawan lifestyle that differed from other cultures in the world, including:

1) Low caloric intake: the Okinawans eat significantly less on average than people in the west. Theoretically, this reduces the amount of free radicals in their bodies, as such toxins are thought to be a by-product of digestion.

2) Diet: The Okinawan diet is high in fruits and veggies, fiber, healthy fats and unrefined complex carbohydrates.

3) Activity: Okinawans in general stay active well into their golden years. They also spend a lot of time outside and practice gentle forms of martial arts to stay fit.

4) Emotional well-being: Okinawans who were tested scored low on stress levels and high on confidence, adaptability and social interaction.

Author by Martha Edwards