The secret for a long and happy life: ikigai (I)

People in Okinawa, the island with the oldest population in the world, follow healthy lifestyles that connect them with their ikigai. According to them, everyone has an ikigai, a unique talent, a passion that gives meaning to your life.

Studies have shown that the keys to a long life are: diet, physical exercise, having a life purpose and good social relationships (friends, family).

What do the oldest people in the world eat and drink?

They drink green tea and jasmine flowers. In the West it is difficult to find this blend of tea, but we can find jasmine tea or, just a high-quality green tea (such as kukicha tea). The influence of this ancient plant on the longevity of those who consume it frequently, has been attested.

Okinawa people eat mainly green vegetables, legumes, algae, fish and rice. Let’s see it in more detail:

  1. They eat a wide variety of vegetables and green leaves per day, about 300g. Which contrasts with the fast-food culture of the West.

  2. On average, they consume fish 3 times a week.

  3. They eat less rice than the rest of Japan, this cereal being the main ingredient in all Japanese meals.

  4. They also consume shikuwasas, a citrus fruit with a flavour, size and colour similar to lime. It contains a high antioxidant power, having 40 times more nobiletin (flavonoid) than an orange. The most common and powerful antioxidants in the West are broccoli, blueberries, carrots, purple grapes, green tea, pure cocoa, almonds, pistachio, cinnamon, salmon, avocado, parsley, oregano, artichoke, spinach, etc. Antioxidants reduce the impact of free radicals in the body, preventing diseases and cell aging. 

  5. Sugar, sweets and chocolate, are hardly consumed, by the Okinawans.

  6. Salt is used only when needed, about 7 grams a day, the size of a small teaspoon of coffee.

  7. Seaweed such as kombu and nori seaweed are consumed every day.

  8. They avoid eating until they are full, always keeping a little of the stomach a bit empty. Caloric restriction lengthens youth by reducing a protein that plays a very important role in the aging process (IGF-1). If due to our daily routine we cannot afford to apply this restriction, an alternative is to fast one day a week or to do intermittent fasting.

  9. They serve food in several small dishes, and this makes them tend to eat less. This is the main reason why Westerners in Japan tend to lose weight.

A light diet, proper rest, gentle exercise, caring for friends are all part of the Okinawan way of life.

Fewer, chronic diseases and inflammatory conditions are less common than in the rest of the word. In addition, on this island there are numerous centenarians with a surprising level of vitality.

→ See also The secret to a long and happy life: ikigai (II). Habits.

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