Okinawa is an island located south of mainland Japan and is known as the site of the largest U.S. military amphibious operation during the Second World War. Today, it is better known as the source of the “Okinawa Diet” — a simple yet effective weight loss program. The Okinawa Diet is about eating plenty of plant-based food which include large quantities of tofu and locally grown vegetables. This eating plan also prescribes the consumption of different varieties of fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, seaweed, and other organic products that are high in protein, rich in calcium, and low in fat. In fact, it is not unusual to find Okinawans who are at least 100 years old. The island has been recognized as having the most number of centegenarians in the entire world. To this day, the incidence of heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer is still rare in the island.
The growing problem of being overweight and obese in the United States has made the Okinawan Diet very appealing. Many overweight individuals have tried taking a diet pill to minimize hunger pangs and , in the process, reduce food intake. Other weight loss diet pill formulas work by preventing the absorption of fat into the body, most of which come from fat-laden meats.
Since most Okinawans rarely eat meat, weight gain is hardly a problem. It is highly unusual to see overweight or bulging Okinawans. Most of them have retained the short but slim physical appearance of their ancient ancestors who were mostly hardy fisher folk and farmers. The key to the effectiveness of the Okinawan Diet is the philosophy that is best encapsulated in the phrase, “food as tonic, food as medicine.” Islanders have been strongly influenced by the food culture of China, Korea, and Mainland Japan — all which emphasized the medicinal and therapeutic value of certain food groups. In many Okinawan homes, the mother or the person who prepared the food usually serves the meal by saying, “Please eat this. This food is good for healing this or that illness. Eating is good for you.” After the meal, the people who ate the food would say, “Kusuinatan!” The word “kusuinatan” is an Okinawan term which means, “The food is good. My body feels good. Food is like medicine.”
Aside from eating healthy food, Okinawans are also lead very active lifestyles. Island residents, young and old, practice the martial arts, engage in folk dancing, and tend their own gardens. These activities provide them the opportunity to break out a sweat and release toxins from the body. By being active, they are able to improve their cardiovascular health. Many centegenarians in Okinawa engage in karate and traditional dancing called “rojin odori” because they see these activities as sources of “ikigai” or sense of purpose. Unlike their Western counterparts, the senior citizens of Okinawa have maintained personal care through individual exercise while also remaining physically active in their community.
In the United States, for example, it is not uncommon to see senior citizens in nursing homes living comfortable yet sedentary lives. The inactive lifestyle and fat-rich, high-carbohydrate foods have contributed to the rise in heart disease and other ailments among many Americans. While not all Americans have the taste or discipline to follow an Okinawan-style food regimen, weight control can still be undertaken with the assistance of a doctor or health care professional. Aside from enrolling in a fitness gym, people who need to lose weight can consult their doctor about prescription weight loss pills that can help reduce the appetite and prevent fat absorption. A number of products out in the market claim to be the “best weight loss pill.” Weight watchers should get information from their doctor or from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about safe and effective weight loss products lines. Only FDA-approved weight loss pills should be bought and consumed since many unproven products are now being sold openly even if the safety of these items remain questionable.
People who are serious and committed to losing weight should study the benefits of the Okinawan Diet as well as those of other diet programs. While living up to 100 may not be an attainable goal for many Americans, it is never too late to turn back from unhealthy eating habits. Like Okinawans, many Americans today must also get back to healthy, active living which entails eating the right food in the right amounts; and by being passionate about an art, activity or event that can provide them their own sense of purpose in life.