THE JAPANESE FOLK'S SECRET TO LONG LIFE

MANILA, January 9, 2004 (STAR) The longevity of the Japanese is commonly known around the world. But aside from the length of their life span, the quality of it is also something to admire.

According to the World Health Organization, only the Japanese can look forward to living to at least 74.5 years in full health compared to other people in 191 countries. This means they have the most number of years living free of diseases or problems normally associated with aging (World Health Organization June 4, 2000).

This, in spite of the fact that many Japanese indulge in drinking alcoholic beverages such as beer and sake, and smoking. What’s their secret? It’s in their diet.

Their food is fresh. Similar to the Philippines, Japan is an island-nation that grows rice and vegetables. The plant food that a Japanese community eats is usually from sources just within the community. Since the food they buy from the market is picked on the same day, only a minimum amount of nutrients is lost – as opposed to fruits and vegetables that are transported great distances before they are eaten.

Variety in their daily diet is another factor that contributes to the Japanese’s good health. If you’ve ever eaten at a Japanese restaurant, you’ll know that a meal consists of numerous viands served in separate dishes, often in small amounts.

In fact, an average Japanese person usually eats up to 25 to 35 different types of food in a day. This variety is a huge help in satisfying one’s daily nutritional requirements.

An individual’s (Japanese or otherwise) daily nutritional requirement can be broken down into two groups: micronutrients and macronutrients. Micronutrients, more commonly known as vitamins and minerals, can be found in fresh plant foods.

On the other hand, carbohydrates (which is the most important because it is the body’s fuel), proteins (which build up, keep up and replace tissues in the body, and also used to form antibodies to fight off infection and disease), and fats (the body’s main form of energy storage) are collectively known as macronutrients. They can be found in seafood, rice and noodles, which are staples of the Japanese diet.

The Japanese who live fast-paced lives manage to satisfy their carbohydrate requirements by eating instant noodles.

In busy cities like Tokyo, instant noodles are increasingly popular because they are quick and easy to prepare, and are filling. In fact, the Japanese can eat up to four large servings of instant noodles a day.

Instant noodles satisfy the most essential macronutrient requirement – carbohydrates – without which, the body will look for other sources of nourishment, usually from the body’s protein or stored fat. This leads to fatigue, depression, loss of weight and muscle mass.

Since carbohydrates also act as natural tranquilizers, noodles also make good evening snacks.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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