For decades now, Japan has been highest on the list of the healthiest countries in the world. It has one of the highest average life expectancies at 85 years. There are a number of reasons for this.
The Japanese are known to follow a very healthy lifestyle. In this article, we shall explore some incredible facts about the Japanese lifestyle. Some of them are so easy to implement, that we can inculcate them into our lives without much effort.
8 facts about Japan that make it a healthy country
- Small portion size
Everywhere in Japan, the size of meals is small. They are accustomed to having small portions at their recommended times. Of course, you are allowed to take a second serving if you need but this is rarely the case for Japanese. They, on average, have a smaller appetite than people from other developed nations.
There are other checks in place to ensure a smaller food consumption in the form of smaller plates and cutlery, water rich foods such as soups, etc. Even at restaurants, the standard portion size is smaller than around the world.
- Healthy food culture
Japanese are known to consume a diet rich in fish and vegetables. They are not as inclined towards meat, milk and dairy products, sugar, fruits, and potatoes. Instead they prefer seafood, rice, and soybean. Such a culture provides them with essential nutrients that have reduced mortality rates in the last few decades. Fewer people suffer from cancer, ischemic diseases and obesity in Japan due to such health-conscious choices.
- Organ meat over muscle meat
It’s not like the Japanese do not like meat at all. They just avoid red meat but a good portion of people there eat meat. However, even when eating meat, the Japanese prefer organ meat over muscle meat. Organ meat is a healthier alternative to muscle meat. They prefer items such as liver, tongue and stomach over muscle meat. Muscle meat is the default in most developed nations where it contributes to deteriorating heart health and other illnesses. Even when it comes to seafood, the Japanese prefer organs.
- Healthy school lunches
The healthy diet culture in Japan can be attributed to school lunches to a certain extent. From a young age, Japanese students are served healthy plant-based meals in school.
Research shows that Japan has the fewest overweight children in the world. Only one in five Japanese children is overweight which is considerably lower than the global average.
As time goes by, young children become accustomed to healthier meals and carry this habit into their adult lives.
- Vending machines serve healthy meals
Japan is indeed the vending machine capital of the world. There is one vending machine for every 23 people. Vending machines, too, have a big contribution in keeping Japan healthy. Vending machines in Japan, unlike any other part of the world, are famous for serving healthy food items besides snacks and other junk foods. They serve ready to eat healthy meals, hot beverages and fruits. Some vending machines serve specialty items that are not available in other machines.
Such availability of healthy alternatives instead of junk and fast foods makes it easier for the general populace to stay fit even on the days they don’t step into the kitchen. Such accessibility to healthy foods is a prime reason for the Japanese’s incredible life expectancy.
- Efficient public transport system
Japan has one of the most efficient public transport systems in the world. They offer premium service and are never late even by a minute. This inspires the public to prefer modes such as trains, ferries or buses instead of opting for private transportation when travelling intercity or even between larger cities.
Such a shift has contributed considerably to creating a pollution-free atmosphere with lower needs for non-renewable sources of energy. Such a clean and healthy atmosphere increases the lifespan of the average Japanese.
- Walking instead of driving
As the Japanese prefer public transport, they walk longer distances to reach the train and bus stations compared to a car owner. Japanese culture itself promotes walking over driving, and hence, you will see a disproportionate number of pedestrians relative to cars on the road.
We all know the benefits of a physically active lifestyle. The advantages of such a lifestyle far outweigh the disadvantages and the Japanese have learned and implemented it into their daily lives.
- Love of green tea
Green tea is one of the most loved beverages in Japan. Many restaurants there offer complimentary green tea to their customers. The green tea in Japan is served hot and without sugar. It is so common that you can even find it in vending machines. Such a love of green tea helps them reduce their calorie intake as they have it quite often & helps you to not overdose caffeine. It also provides a natural defence against many illnesses besides promoting lower calorie consumption. A calorie-deficit lifestyle is an important step when seeking a healthy and fat-free life.
- Prevention over cure
Japan has a history of using ancient medicinal herbs and foods in their daily lives to build immunity against common and even specific ailments. People in developed nations prefer to use antacids, antibiotics and NSAIDs for health issues.
The Japanese do not unless absolutely necessary. They use preventive practices to fight health problems. They seek an active lifestyle and learn activities such as meditation, calming rituals and martial arts to stay fit.
Summing it up:
After going over all of these incredible Japanese traits, it becomes quite understandable why the Japanese live such long and healthy lives. Only a few decades back in the 1960s, Japan had the highest mortality rates in all the G7 countries. Now, it has the lowest, especially because of fewer deaths from ischemic heart diseases and cancer.
A blend of traditional and modern good practices has made Japan a health hub. They are very careful about how they lead their lives and what they put into their body. We all need to derive inspiration from them and move towards a healthier and fitter life.