Grow Your Lifespan Like the Okinawans; The Okinawan Diet

Why do the Okinawans have the longest lifespan in the world? Why is this diet the key? The people of Okinawa actually have their own diet. This diet is pretty similar to Paleo, but it’s a bit more than that. It’s based on vegetables, beans, and other plants primarily with a small to substantial contribution from fish and other lean meats, depending on the person. Sweet potatoes are actually more than half of the diet.
The Okinawan diet is highly anti-inflammatory and highly anti-oxidant in nature. Studies have proven that the increased lifespan is due to this diet, not genetics. They have lower heart disease and cancer, by fractions of the amount that American do.
Another aspect of the Okinawan diet is how they eat, too. This is called Hara Hachi-Bu. Hara Hachi-Bu is simply eating until you’re 80% full, then stopping. You  pull yourself away from that delicious mashed sweet potato and salmon, or whatever you’ve prepared. This practice allows you to feel better, not just in the long run, but immediately. We westerners have a tendency of over-eating, stuffing ourselves to the brim, joking about wearing elastic pants for a good meal because of how much you’re going to eat.
Sure, the food might taste good, but how does your body feel after you’ve stuffed yourself to 100% full, and maybe then some? You’re bloated, slow, and if you move too quickly you might experience the need to purge some of it.
The key is to consume less calories, less carbohydrates, and more nutrient-dense foods. Soy and tofu are a big plus, fresh fish, fresh veggies, whole and raw foods, lean meats, and less processed foods. Lets take a look at what some Okinawan diet foods might look like.
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are LOADED. Vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium. Hardly anyone in western civilizations consume all of the potassium they need on a daily basis. These little orange and purple nuggets from heaven are also high in fiber and contain vitamin E. Plus there’s loads of ways to prepare them. One of my favorites is to use an air fryer to make sweet potato fries that are crunchy without the added guilt and calories from oil frying. I’ll sprinkle some salt on there, sea salt is best, and munch on those for a while.
Shiitake Mushrooms
We’ve all heard and made fun of the name of the Shiitake mushrooms. They’ve at least invaded our lives as a well timed poor pun. I’ll admit it, I like the puns almost as much as I like the food. These are packed with nutrients and benefits that impact your immune system and help with the regulation of cholesterol. I like to get these fresh, just like everything else, when I can.
Ah, tofu. A lot of people love it. A lot of people in the west, for some reason, won’t even try it. It’s like they’re afraid of tofu. Tofu threatens their way of life. Their way of life is sending them to an early grave, so maybe it should be threatened, for their own good. Soy is really the star of the show, but a lot of people consume it in tofu form. I like it firm, fried, in soup. Sometimes all at the same time. Soy, which tofu is made from, has some big words attached to it like phytochemicals, particularly the type called flavonoids and phytoestrogens, which have health promoting qualities. I’m not too much of a science guy, so I had to look up those words, but this science can literally prolong your life 15 years.
I don’t stick to this religiously, but I want to implement it more and more. For example, I had a burger today. Not exactly Okinawan. But yesterday for my pre-training meal I had white rice, cracked pepper smoked salmon, and stir-fried mushrooms. I want to get some more tofu to implement into my meals more and more. I want to slowly cut out the breads and foods that are bad for me. It’s hard for me to dive right off the board into the deep end for diet, so I’m taking it slow. One thing at a time. You should try it. It may just make you live to see an entire extra decade.

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