Some of my favorite ways to study the effects of diets and lifestyles on health is to take an objective look at the healthiest cultures on the planet. Although these studies are observational, they study real people living in a real environment. They provide us with invaluable information about how health and longevity are affected by the culture in which we live. Granted, your diet is only part of the total equation. And it must be emphasized that these healthy patterns are based on traditional habits of these cultures. When Western-type diets invade these populations, time and time again, their positive health statistics change generally for the worst. Please watch the video and then go out and buy some sweet potatoes.
A lot can be said for following the lifestyle factors uncovered in the book The Blue Zone in respect to a healthy life and extended longevity. The following article presents an excellent summary of these findings.
A lecture (19 minutes) about The Blue Zones from the author, Dan Buettner Forget the hype and headlines, the real truth lies somewhere in these cultures that exhibit health and the greatest longevity in the world. There is an excellent summary, so click on nine commonalities attributed to longevity at the end of the article.
This is a great book. It is so much more than just a diet book. The people of these five global areas generally are some of the longest-living and healthiest seniors on the planet. The book, The Blue Zone Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People by Dan Buettner has four parts:
- Discovering the Blue Zones
- Making an American Blue Zone
- Building Your Own Blue Zone
- Blue Zone Recipes
What can we learn about diets from the Japanese? They have low rates of major chronic disease and have a high life expectancy. They eat a diet high in carbs and still have a low incidence of obesity. How do they do it? Again, it may be the kinds of carbs (there are some healthy carbs) they eat, get more exercise and follow a low fat diet.
The Traditional Japanese Diet:
- The diet is one of the lowest in fat – traditionally the Japanese get 26% of their calories as fat – about 8% lower than the U.S.
- Fish is favorite protein source.
- Soy foods are abundant.
- They focus on presentation enhancing the enjoyment of food.
- They eat little processed food. They eat real food.
- They eat about 65% of their calories from carbohydrate – mainly rice.
Japan: High carbs, more exercise, low fat
U.S.: High carbs, less exercise, high fat. Think of the popularity of ice cream or a candy bar. Sugar plus fat wins out every time. Much of our highly processed foods are loaded with both.
For more on Asian diets, CLICK HERE.
Epigenetics is the study of how our environment affects the expression of our genes. They can be turned off and on depending on our lifestyles, including dietary factors. Check a previous post HERE for more epigenetics. Interesting!
This new study further supports the role of diet with its accompanying nutrients in the expression of our genetic makeup. Very interesting in a field that is in its infancy.