View Full Version : Okinawa diet
03-26-2010, 12:02 PM
So I recently read some stuff about the Okinawa diet and was left with some questions.
The emphasis of omega 3s, fruit, vegetables, mono fats, and adequate but not mega amounts of protein I can get on board with.
I am confused about the whole grain part though. Whole grains are calorically dense yet are stated in the diet book to be a low caloric density. They also are not even close to as nutrient dense as fruits and vegetables and yet get lumped into the same section and are called a nutrient dense food. They also contain phytates, gluten, and lectins which are all detrimental to health. How is it possible that we have a culture that lives so long in great health and functional capacity and yet consume such a number of whole grains which seem to me to be hazardous to health?
I also understand that the Okinawans consume quiet a lot of pork as their protein source (I got this from talking to a friend who's mother is from Okinawa) yet the diet book authors say they get protein from vegetables and hardly eat meat?
03-26-2010, 02:04 PM
The answer lies somewhere in the middle. I remember hearing that there is a Japanese saying used often by the Okinawans that basically means eat to partial fullness.
The one thing that seems to be consistent is that they just don't eat that much. No drivethru fast food chains etc. The grain portion of a meal tends to be tiny, as the overall size of the meal is quite small.
I like paleo and all, but there is still a lack of science to support it. The same goes for the Okinawan diet. What the two tend to have in common is that overall caloric load is low relative to the standard American diet. Lower calories do seem to lead to longer lives, perhaps regardless of the source. I'll let time and science answer that last one.
03-26-2010, 02:15 PM
They also contain phytates, gluten, and lectins which are all detrimental to health. How is it possible that we have a culture that lives so long in great health and functional capacity and yet consume such a number of whole grains which seem to me to be hazardous to health?
Soaking and fermentation can neutralize those, hence many societies still do it today.
They also eat less calories than normal Japanese people, are active daily, have enjoyable lifestyle, happy mindsets, don't get stressed out all day, enjoy strong social community ties/sense of purpose, lower exposure to toxins (in food, medications, environmental)..etc..etc.
I'm sure they also eat fresh fish....being on an island and all.
03-26-2010, 04:48 PM
The authors of the Okinawa diet claim it's a scientifically proven diet.
The more I learn about nutrition the more confusing it gets. I was sure the paleo diet was "THE DIET" because the arguments are pretty sound, but then you dig deeper and deeper and it becomes much more murky. Is there any diet, or food for that matter, that actually has science to prove it promotes health and longevity? It seems every time I'm sure of something some study is brought to my attention that makes me question my position.
03-26-2010, 06:40 PM
Almost everything has science to show it's the ultimate food. What it comes down to is what Michael Pollan noted. "Eat real food, not too much. Mostly plants."
not sure if that's a word for word quote.
Franken-foods are mostly bad.
03-26-2010, 07:42 PM
There was an article in the "Outside" magazine where the dude did 6 diets in a year. The Paleo, Okinawan, zone, Mediteranian, Govt food pyramid, and some of the dieats. During his experiment he charted all the particulars BF, weight, cholesterol (HDL, LDL, Trigylcerides) the whole 9 yards.
He had the best results with Paleo, but it made him grumpy. The Okinawan diet really screwed up his cholesterol. They atributed it to the fact that he is not Okinawan and that the Okinawans have evolved to the way they are and do all the things stated in the other posts that it works for them.
The one thing that I found interesting is the diet he did based on his ancestry. I guess the guy has an Irish background and so there are things that he should not eat. Chicken was one of them. I am not sure how much of that is BS.
It was an interesting article. I think makes for interesting debate about how diets could also be a cultural thing and not just evolutionary.
Sorry it got off track a little.
03-26-2010, 09:12 PM
Good call Joe. I think I still have that issue now that you mention it. I'll look for it.
I think that there is a bit of an ancestral element to diet, but to what extent is debatable. We're such a genetic combination in this point of human evolution and history that to say that's what our ancestors ate is kinda shaky.
Unless of course, we're talking about Asians/Africans or tribal people in South America, Inuits etc. For the most part though, we're all fairly "mutt like". Of course there are exceptions to every rule.
Real food, not too much, mostly plants and get a regular check up.
03-27-2010, 03:58 AM
I remember hearing that there is a Japanese saying used often by the Okinawans that basically means eat to partial fullness.
The saying is "hara hachi bu". (http://www.okinawa-diet.com/okinawa_diet/hara_hachi_bu.html)
03-27-2010, 08:56 AM
Is there any diet, or food for that matter, that actually has science to prove it promotes health and longevity?
Probably not...but there shouldn't just be one way for everything, that is an attitude that just gets us into trouble. More so we should look at the trends as seen in "blue zones" as some may eat more meat, others have dairy, others more plants...etc.
The one thing they all have in common....real foods and eating in moderation.
03-27-2010, 06:32 PM
One of the most important aspects I've seen of the blue zone research is not eating too much, and having a purpose. Drifting through life is a great way to end it early.
A good example of having a purpose would be the old guy with a wife, kids, a home who works til he's 65 and rapidly declines after retirement. He's lost his purpose.
04-26-2010, 02:22 PM
I think this is the article you were referring to:
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