With a wise and healthy culture, the Japanese stand out, among other societies, for their optimal health. The question that is generated is: how do they do to be like this? Is it genetics or acquired habits?
In addition to having healthy routines, a feature of the physiognomy of people from the country of the rising sun is that they mostly retain a slim figure. Even, according to data from the Ministry of Health and Nutrition of Japan, it is one of the countries in the world with the lowest obesity rate with only 3.5% compared to other countries such as Germany, France and Italy that have between 21% and 22%, the United Kingdom 26% and the United States, 33.6%.
However, it is important to note that the traditions and culture of the Japanese country, as well as the laws passed to combat overweight, have greatly helped its citizens maintain a good physical condition.
It was in 2005 that the Shuku Ikulaw aimed at the education of children came into force which aims to create a social culture around food. The law focuses on diet, daily feeding of Japanese children and their education: schools are obliged to offer healthy menus for school-age children. These values are instilled from an early age and in this way they reach adulthood with a greater awareness of what is healthy for the organism.
Okinawa – a Japanese prefecture that encompasses more than 150 islands in Japan’s maritime area – is a clear example. It is considered a blue zone, one of the places in the world where the oldest people over 100 years of age live, for the longevity and good health of its inhabitants. It has a particular climate, natural resources and a different mentality that recognizes the importance of nutrition as well as its impact on health.
Reasons for this phenomenon are due to multicausal factors You have to see the Japanese in their social, biological, ecological and cultural environment because we are all integral beings and that must be the right look to understand how they stay that way.
5 Japanese habits to stay in shape
The customs of the Japanese are very varied and include from eating habits to different types of physical exercises and hot baths. Among them are:
1. Mindful eating
The Japanese consume easily digestible foods. They do not usually eat too many industrialized products or chemicals. They prioritize natural and even raw foods during the summer months. Among the most chosen are rice, fish, seafood, vegetables and vegetables and hot infusions.
Since the Japanese were born, they follow healthy eating routines that are characterized by being low in calories with little fat where plants and herbs of traditional medicine such as turmeric prevail and give a leading role to foods of plant origin.
Ultra-processed, refined sugars or trans fats have no place in their diet. If we compare with Western selections where beef and animal fat predominate (cheese, butter, cream, in pastry, etc.) and where there is an increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods with the addition of sugar and extra salt and all kinds of additives … of course the Japanese have more nutrients from their diet, and that contributes to the preservation of health and well-being for more years.
2. Hara Hachi Bu Method
Hara hachi bu is a Confucian teaching that instructs people to eat until 80 percent full or when one feels some feeling full. In this way, they feel satisfied and do not need to binge as happens in other countries where culturally they eat until “they can no more”.
I believe that more than a form of diet it is about frugality and the respect that Japanese have towards food to eat what is necessary and the consideration they have with others so as not to fill ourselves when others may be having a hard time.
3. They don’t go to the gym
The Japanese are not used to performing extreme training routines as is more common in the West. Practice moderate or low-intensity physical activities such as daily walking, yoga, or stretching. However, from a young age they are instilled with physical exercise with sports competitions called “undokai” and “taiso” – soft and relaxed exercises that seek greater amplitude in movement – that are carried out every morning in schools and workplaces. They also use bicycles a lot for transport, particularly mothers to shop or to take their children to school. In general, they’re not fans of gyms.
George Ohsawa, a Japanese philosopher, created macrobiotics – a philosophy of life based on diet, exercise, meditation and the energy of yin and yang. It is based on eating, living in harmony and seeking balance in the body. In order to comply with this, the food consumed – preferably organic and seasonal products – must follow a biological and physiological application of the principle of Yin and Yang, according to which everything is balanced by these two forces respecting, in each case, a certain proportion. It is divided into whole grains, such as brown rice, oats, barley, buckwheat or quinoa (between 40 and 60%), fruits and vegetables (between 20 and 30%) and animal products and derivatives (between 10 and 25%).
5. Hot baths
This activity helps the body burn calories and increases metabolic rate according to a study published in 2017. These immersion baths are called ‘furo’ and yes, it is the most common way to sanitize in Japan. It is not done for any specific purpose, but doing so additionally provides all the benefits that are known, from relaxation, skin hydration and detoxification.
On the other hand and returning to food, although it is common for Japanese people to be healthy with these mentioned habits, they do not do it to stay in shape. For me, it has a lot to do with genetic inheritance and the standard of living that allows us to eat healthily and enjoy the benefits of seasonal foods and dishes that are more nutritious, and delicious.