(Ler em Português)
Who is the number one killer in the United States?
Heart Disease, that´s who. Murder, cancer, aids, motor accidents, and even mother nature just can´t seem to keep up with heart disease. Heart disease can be linked to many other ailments having to do with many things including age, diet, and exercise. It seems one group of people off the coast of the Japanese mainland however, aren´t as effected as the rest of us. The place is Okinawa, Japan, a lush tropical paradise made of 162 islands. It is the birth place of Karate, and a very spiritual nature/health friendly religion.
There are certain words that just aren´t spoken in Okinawa like they are here in the United States. Words like "Breast Cancer", "Heart Attack", and "Obese" aren´t very common to these people. The Okinawan population has a lower than 80% rate of heart disease when compared to the United States, per capita. The obesity rate? Practically nil. So what it is about these people that makes them so special? Is it the air, the water... or... the food? Why is our average life expectancy 55 when theirs is over 80? What really is the secret to the oldest people in the world?
The answer, as simple as it may sound my come down to diet and exsercise. The Okinawan food pyramid is a list of vegestables, soy, fruits, and fish. The balance between omega-3/6 fatty acids for their diet is near perfection while they consume no, if any preservatives, hydrogenated oils,saturated fat. Their grains are whole, their fiber intake is superb, and they simply do not traditionally eat empty calories. Even their "junk" food is relatively good for you compared to the onslaught of useless calories and nutrient raping carbohydrates Americans eat. But thats not all. They do not consume fake sugars,sugar that is isolated. All their sugar comesfruits, vegestables, and whole grains.
Okinawans are active, extremely active. As kids they all participate in karate instruction, play sports (Soccer is huge there), and learn that excercise isn´t just good for their bodies but a very spiritual activity. Health is part of their religion, and their religion has a very deep respect for nature and being in tune with the surroundings that nurture you. Their entire way of life,a physiological perspective promotes health and happiness.
How old are Okinawans? Okinawa has the most centernerains per capita, that means that noelse in the world are there more people living past 100. Most people that die before 80 die of unnatural causes and, even at these ages look and act as if they were much younger. Great-grand fathers practice martial arts, fit, young looking 103 year old men thrash down sugar cain as they farm. This is life as usual on the islands.
There is something else to tell though, something I believe is very important. I am sure that anyone who reads of the Okinawan´s will think of changing their way of life in order to live longer and think of it as an ordeal,sacrifice. There is no doubt that living in one way since you were young and never having to change is easy, as it is easy for the Okinawan´s to maintain their lifestyle, but it is not an ordeal to live longer. It is also not an ordeal to have a higher quality of life. I personally know friends of mine who are no more than 25 years old and have severe, debilitating diabetes (another rare occurance for our Japanese friends), and heart problems. I know many people my age that do not have the physical prowess of many of okinawa´s senior citizens. I could definitely not gardenfarm like they do. To be completely critical, the only downside I see to their diet/lifestyle is that due to the pollution of the oceans near their location, many of them are having problems with mercury poisoning due to the high fish content of their diet.
The overall meek, reserved people of this island seem to have found the true secrets of extending the quality, and length of human life. A lesson we could all use.
Luis De Siqueira, signing out!