Okinawa Diet

The Okinawa regime takes its name from a Japanese archipelago with an exceptionally high number of centenarians. It is based on caloric restriction through the consumption of relatively copious amounts of foods with low caloric density.

What is the Okinawa diet?

Hypocaloric and semi-vegetarian

More than a diet, the Okinawa diet ( also known as the long life diet) is a real way of life, based on a positive vision of life and a Zen tradition. In the islands of the same name, the values of mutual aid, conviviality and physical effort (even among the elderly) are all factors which, combined with the diet itself, contribute to a good balance in life.

From a more concrete point of view, while the French daily average is 2,300 kcal per day, Okinawans only absorb 1,800.

Eating less is not only a way to age less, it is also a way to age well, in other words, to age healthier. Indeed, when you consume fewer calories, your body significantly reduces the production of free radicals: this helps limit organ degeneration, and therefore slows down aging.

Composition of the Okinawa diet

Favour foods with low caloric density

The cornerstone of the Okinawa diet is the concept of caloric density: for equal weight, two foods do not necessarily have the same calorie intake. However, research has shown that to achieve a feeling of satiety, calorie intake is not significant, but only the weight of the food ingested has an influence. Favouring foods with low caloric density therefore allows you to eat your fill while remaining slim and healthy.

Example: whether you have eaten 100 grams of bread or 100 grams of tomato, the feeling of satiety is the same. However, in the first case, we have ingested 250 kcal, while in the second case, we have consumed only 20!

Some foods with very low energy density are therefore to be consumed without restriction:

  • water and tea;
  • tomato, endive, pepper, lemon, zucchini, lettuce, asparagus, pumpkin ;
  • mushrooms, watermelon, guava, onion, green bean, apricot, peach, strawberry, melon ;
  • apple, peach, plum, pear, pineapple.

Another category of food with limited energy density can be eaten in moderation :

  • banana, avocado;
  • lean fish, poultry (chicken or turkey), egg ;
  • potatoes, pasta, rice, sushi;
  • legumes (lentils, red or white beans, chickpeas…).

Finally, foods that have a very high energy density should be eaten rarely:

  • cheese, butter, mayonnaise;
  • oil;
  • biscuits;
  • walnut, pistachio, almond;
  • chocolate, etc.

The three key nutrients

In conclusion, there are three types of nutrients that are particularly high in the Okinawa diet that have anti-aging in common:

  • Antioxidants: tea, fruits and vegetables, soy, spices;
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: rapeseed oil, soybean oil, fish ;
  • magnesium: tofu, sesame, sweet potatoes.

Keys to a successful Okinawa regime

  • Consume less fat: it should represent 25% of the day’s energy intake and be rich in unsaturated fatty acids (rapeseed oil, linseed oil).
  • Fill up on antioxidants, vitamins, minerals by eating at least 7 fruits and vegetables/day, 7 servings of whole grains and pulses and 2 soy dishes.
  • Give taste to dishes with herbs and spices. Sugar, salt and fat should not be used for this purpose.
  • Alternate raw and cooked and favour gentle cooking that preserves the nutritional qualities of the food.
  • Drink 1.5 l of water, 2 cups of tea minimum and be careful with alcohol.
  • To want to turn firmly and resolutely towards a new lifestyle.

Benefits of the Okinawa Diet

There are many advantages to this plan:

  • allows you to eat tasty and varied foods;
  • a very positive influence on health:
    • favorable for intestinal transit;
    • lowering of cholesterol levels;
    • reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension ;
    • reduced risk of breast, colon and prostate cancer ;
    • reducing the risk of degenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease) ;
    • less osteoporosis;
    • better regulation of hormones (in particular DHEA, known as the “youth hormone”)
  • no yo-yo effect;
  • weight loss: up to 500 grams per week ;
  • in the long term, a longer and healthier life;
  • no dietary deficiencies!

Disadvantages of the Okinawa Diet

The Okinawa regime may also have some binding elements:

  • Some typical foods in the diet (seaweed, soy, seafood, guava, etc.) are not necessarily easy to obtain.
  • It also requires a strong limitation of certain major foods of the Western diet (red meat, dairy products, sweets…).
  • Although it is often thought of only as a diet, the Okinawa diet should not be limited to a simple change in diet, but should also be accompanied by regular physical activity.
  • Because of the consumption of algae, this diet is not suitable for people suffering from hypo or hyperthyroidism.

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