Japan’s culture is steeped in ceremony, ancient traditions, and what may be the holy grail of longevity. With the longest life expectancy of any other country according to the World Health Organization, you have to wonder what their golden ticket to good health is. The Japanese use their bodies to live, they eat locally, and a sedentary lifestyle is unheard of. Anyone who has had the good fortune of visiting this beautiful country knows everything from eating sushi to having a cup of tea is a work of art. Finding solace in simplicity, and incorporating movement into each day is at the core of Japanese philosophy.
The Japanese culture cuts the processed middle man in favor of fresh vegetables, whole grains, small amounts of lean protein, and they love their Omega-3 rich seafood. Simple cooking techniques like steaming and simmering keep nutrients in and allows for better digestion. Meal times are ritualistic, and foods are presented artfully to enhance enjoyment and make eating more mindful. Fermented foods like miso, and katsuobushi (fermented fish flakes), add rich umami flavors to recipes and are very healing for the gut. Overall saturated fat intake is also very low, with meat used in small quantities as more of a condiment rather than a focal point.While most of us can’t remember the last time we enjoyed a leisurely bath, the Japanese make it a priority. They read a book, listen to music, and brew a cup of antioxidant rich green tea. For centuries, Japan’s culture has taken this form of self-care seriously whether it’s relaxing at home or immersing themselves in a picturesque Tokyo bathhouse, where soaking in a hot spring is a truly spiritual experience. Baths are known to calm nerves, relieve pain, and improve sleep, so if reducing stress helps us live longer, then the Japanese have it down to a science.
Self-reflection and Zen meditation is part of this country’s heritage. For thousands of years, meditating has been a form of enlightenment, and connecting to a deeper sense of self. The powerful physical and mental health benefits of this ancient eastern practice have traveled to the western world helping people cope with everything from anxiety, to adrenal fatigue. It’s surprising how the art of being still is one of the most challenging tasks we face, yet may be the very thing that leads to the fountain of youth.