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A High-carb Diet May Explain Why Okinawans Live So Long

Discussion in 'Scientific Studies' started by haidut, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. haidut

    haidut Member

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    Most people have heard of the so-called Okinawan "miracle" - i.e. the high ratio of centenarians per capita on that Japanese island. While that ratio is artificially elevated due to increased emigration after WWII, there is solid evidence that Okinawans have better systemic health than the rest of Japan, and most Western countries. For a long time the explanation centered around the Okinawans large intake omega-3 fats from seafood. However, more detailed studies have found that Okinawans do not really ingest that much omega-3 on a daily basis, and of course most of the intervention rials with omega-3 have failed.
    Several other animal and human studies have suggested that a high-carb diet provides the same benefits as caloric restriction without lowering total daily calories. Protein and fat intake are both low on that diet.
    Low-protein High-carb Diet Has The Same Benefits As Caloric Restriction
    Low Protein / High Carb Diet - Healthier Than Caloric Restriction

    Now a number of new studies suggest that such a high-carb, low-protein-fat diet may be responsible for the Okinawans' longevity, or at least their better health. I think the 10:1 ratio of protein:carb is probably a bit too high for most people under 65, this is yet another study that suggests carbs are not the enemy as we are being told on a daily basis.

    A high-carb diet may explain why Okinawans live so long

    "...Of particular note is the number of people who reach 100 years of life. For every 100,000 inhabitants, Okinawa has 68 centenarians – more than three times the numbers found in US populations of the same size. Even by the standards of Japan, Okinawans are remarkable, with a 40% greater chance of living to 100 than other Japanese people. Little wonder scientists have spent decades trying to uncover the secrets of the Okinawans’ longevity – in both their genes and their lifestyle. And one of the most exciting factors to have recently caught the scientists’ attention is the peculiarly high ratio of carbohydrates to protein in the Okinawan diet – with a particular abundance of sweet potato as the source of most of their calories. “It is quite the opposite of current popular diets that advocate a high protein, low carb diet,” says Samantha Solon-Biet, who researches nutrition and ageing at the University of Sydney. Despite the popularity of the Atkins and Paleo diets, however, there is minimal evidence that high-protein diets really do bring about long-term benefits."

    "...So could the “Okinawan Ratio” – 10:1 carbohydrate to protein – instead be the secret to a long and healthy life? Although it would still be far too early to suggest any lifestyle changes based on these observations, the very latest evidence – from human longitudinal studies and animal trials – suggest the hypothesis is worth serious attention. According to these findings, a low protein, high carbohydrate diet sets off various physiological responses that protect us from various age-related illnesses – including cancer, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. And the Okinawan Ratio may achieve the optimal dietary balance to achieve those effects."

    "...Rather than suffering a prolonged demise, the Okinawan centenarians appeared to have delayed many of the usual effects of ageing, with almost two thirds living independently until the age of 97. This remarkable “healthspan” was evident across many age-related diseases. The typical Okinawan centenarian appeared to be free of the typical signs of cardiovascular disease, without the build-up of the hard “calcified” plaques around the arteries that can lead to heart failure. Okinawa’s oldest residents also have far lower rates of cancer, diabetes and dementia than other ageing populations."
     
  2. Cirion

    Cirion Member

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    Interesting... 10:1 Carb/protein seems rather extreme though... why do fruitarians often end up with health issues then? It seems some claim that you get deficiencies like B12 on this type of diet, others think its a non issue, so what's the deal?

    I know @charlie is basically doing 10/1 carb protein currently I think, as he was basically doing a grape fast for a while and said he felt great doing that.
     
  3. ecstatichamster

    ecstatichamster Member

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    Dr Peat recommends 80-100g of protein for liver maximal performance.
     
  4. TeaRex14

    TeaRex14 Member

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    @Cirion I think the major issue with 90% of the fruitarian crowd is they're vegan, as opposed to people like the Okinawan who eat most of their protein from lowfat fish/shellfish. I remember a few of Ray's responses to people asking him about veganism and his reply was always something like "for best resistance to stress, more protein is desirable ". Or something like that.
     
  5. Captain_Coconut

    Captain_Coconut Member

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    How much of the Okinawan carb intake is from sugar vs starch?

    From wikipedia...


    The dietary intake of Okinawans compared to other Japanese circa 1950 shows that Okinawans consumed: fewer total calories (1785 vs. 2068), less polyunsaturated fat (4.8% of calories vs. 8%), less rice (154g vs. 328g), significantly less wheat, barley and other grains (38g vs. 153g), less sugars (3g vs. 8g), more legumes (71g vs. 55g), significantly less fish (15g vs. 62g), significantly less meat and poultry (3g vs. 11g), less eggs (1g vs. 7g), less dairy (<1g vs. 8g), much more sweet potatoes (849g vs. 66g), less other potatoes (2g vs. 47g), less fruit (<1g vs. 44g), and no pickled vegetables (0g vs. 42g).[4] In short, the Okinawans circa 1950 ate sweet potatoes for 849 grams of the 1262 grams of food that they consumed, which constituted 69% of their total calories.[4]

    An Okinawan reaching 100 years of age has typically had a diet consistently averaging about one calorie per gram of food and has a BMI of 20.4 in early adulthood and middle age.[8]

    In addition to their high life expectancy, islanders are noted for their low mortality from cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers. Wilcox (2007) compared age-adjusted mortality of Okinawans versus Americans and found that, during 1995, an average Okinawan was 8 times less likely to die from coronary heart disease, 7 times less likely to die from prostate cancer, 6.5 times less likely to die from breast cancer, and 2.5 times less likely to die from colon cancer than an average American of the same age.[4]

    The traditional Okinawan diet as described above was widely practiced on the islands until about the 1960s. Since then, dietary practices have been shifting towards Western and Japanese patterns, with fat intake rising from about 6% to 27% of total caloric intake and the sweet potato being supplanted with rice and bread.[9] This shifting trend has also coincided with a decrease in longevity, where Okinawans now have a lower life expectancy than the Japanese average.[10]
     
  6. Kartoffel

    Kartoffel Member

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    I'm getting more and more convinced that lower protein intake is better. If you eat a lot of calories, especially carbohydrates, you will need much less protein. I always thought that the ratio in human milk might be a good clue as to which macronutrient ratio is optimal - it's roughly 7:7:1 (C/F/P)
     
  7. foodandtheworld

    foodandtheworld Member

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    Okinawans also like pork. I know this isn't a scientific study (it's a government tourism promo website) but I thought this was interesting because it reminds me of Peat's comments about traditional societies eating the whole of the animal/getting a optimal balance of protein/amino acids that way (vs the muscle meat-centric modern Western societies):

    "Pork is essential for Okinawan cuisine.
    It is said that "everything is eaten except the oinking." Pork contains high quality protein
    is rich in vitamin B1 that is effective for recovering from fatigue.
    The leg, skin, face ears of the pig are commonly eaten in Okinawa they are rich in collagen
    which keeps the elasticity of the skin.

    Aguu, the Okinawan native pig contains less fat, less cholesterol is rich in glutamic acid
    that gives a rich flavor compared to other pork.
    The people of Okinawa eat pork almost every day take in enough protein,
    therefore many elderly are healthy regardless of their age."
    Aguu Pork | Introduction to Okinawan products - Okinawa International Aerial Logistics Hub・OKINAWA Bridging Asia

    Also, I wonder if the climate could affect the fat composition of the pigs. It reminds me of a Ray Peat interview:
    So, in the tropics, even fish in the Amazon river for example, have fat as saturated as butter fat. If you grow soy beans or corn in a very warm climate, their fat is saturated according to the temperature. Chocolate and coconuts grow in a place where the temperatures are probably averaging close to 90ºF, and so they need to have very saturated fats just for the biochemical manipulation (the molecules to happen).
    [...]
    So it's a biological adaptation. You can make a pig have subcutaneous unsaturated fat depending on the temperature of the weather that it's exposed to. If you put a sweater on the pig, it'll get more saturated.
    Ray Peat
    You can see the average temperatures for one of the cities in Okinawa here: Naha - Wikipedia
    Daily mean over 62.5F/17C, highest at 84F/28.9C.
    Mean maximum over 79.9F/26.6C highest at 96.1F/35.6C.

    I wonder if that's hot enough to shift the fats towards more saturated as in Peat's comments.
     
  8. Vinero

    Vinero Member

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    " with a particular abundance of sweet potato as the source of most of their calories"
    So they eat high-starch.
     
  9. Captain_Coconut

    Captain_Coconut Member

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    I agree protein is overrated. It seems hormonal status is more important when it comes to maintaining lean mass. I think muscles can become stronger simply by breaking down and reusing the proteins of poorly formed muscle cells.
     
  10. Captain_Coconut

    Captain_Coconut Member

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    Is there something significant about sweet potatoes? Longevity in other tuber rich diets is not very comparable, e.g. Ireland.

    Edit: Interestingly there is a greater carb to protein ratio in sweet potato (yam) ~8 vs potato ~5.
     
  11. Kartoffel

    Kartoffel Member

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    I don't think Irish people get as much calories from tubers as you might think, and all the other factors are different as well. If you want to compare Okinawans to other tuber-lovers, you might wanna have a look at the Kitava that eat about 1200g of tubers (I think sweet potatoes as well) every day.
     
  12. Daft

    Daft Member

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    I was about to question you on that but then looked it up. That is bizarre! 2.5 g protein/cup! 16.8g Lactose, 10.7g fat, according to calorieking.com. May be onto something.
     
  13. Kartoffel

    Kartoffel Member

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    I think the fat content is too high. There are many studies on pubmed. Most say fat content is 3.2-3.4 g/dl while lactose is 7.1-7.4 g/dl. Thus, roughly equal in calories. I think a little less fat and more carbs might be good for adults, but I don't see why adults should need so much more protein than growing babies.
     
  14. Captain_Coconut

    Captain_Coconut Member

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    A good question is how much muscle mass does a baby put on during the first 6 months, when they are still getting all of their food as breast milk. I suspect during these stages the majority of growth would be fat and bone mass.
     
  15. schultz

    schultz Member

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    Yah this is what I was thinking. If a Fruitarian ate 90% fruit and the other 10% came from liver, shellfish, eggs, milk, etc. I would expect that person to be significantly more healthy than a vegan Fruitarian.
     
  16. Cirion

    Cirion Member

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    I don't think super low-fat is optimal long term though personally either. That said, I am sure it is 100x better than the standard PUFA laden diet.

    From countless reading of successful stories it seems like the path to recovery from all the people I've seen so far looks like this

    1. Load up on high of all macronutrients, gain a few lbs, get temperatures up. Eventually progress will stall on this (I'm in this phase myself, and noticing this)
    2. Once temperatures are up fairly good, maybe start dropping dietary fat down slowly replace it with carbs.
    3. Once a lean body weight is achieved (presumably mostly PUFA depleted) and metabolism is restored, some fats can be introduced again, in the form of primarily SFA's, because now the body should be able to handle more flexible macronutrients in a healthy manner without PUFA's mucking it all up.

    I've seen this with Zachs, Haidut (correct me if wrong), a guy who coached me a while back, someone I just was IM'ing the other day, and others. It seems like this is basically the three step process to health with diet.

    No one I know does 10/1 carb protein successfully but I DO think high ratios possibly up to 5/1 can have decent merit, especially if one is in a healing phase.I say that all to say, though, these guys probably are fairly close to a very healthy diet (Definitely way better than SAD)
     
  17. Wagner83

    Wagner83 Member

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    Look at the calcium/phosphorus and glucose/fructose ratios compared to potatoes. It's also rich in the infamous beta-carotene.
     
  18. Cirion

    Cirion Member

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    I like sweet potatoes but I started to feel off going 2 lbs a day, probably because vitamin A overdosing. 1 lb a day seems to be about my limit to avoid those effects
     
  19. Captain_Coconut

    Captain_Coconut Member

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    Nice. The yam has a good deal more potassium and choline as well. I guess I should start experimenting with yams, I feel better on high carb with equal parts sugar and starch.
     
  20. Wagner83

    Wagner83 Member

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    I wonder how they cook their food. For conveniency and financial purpose I've been using potatoes but the phosphate/calcium ratio is (supposedly) atrocious. It would be interesting to know if we benefit from diosgenin if we consume yams or if it's destroyed during digestion or cooking.
     
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