Japanese: Healthy?

Discussion in 'Health' started by jyb, Dec 20, 2012.

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  1. jyb

    jyb Member

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    How do you explain the apparent good health of the Japanese? They seem to have a low metabolism (less keen on physical exercise), however they keep in good physical shape (very rarely overweight) and seem to age particularly well cognitively. Their diet has a lot of fish and maybe vegetable oils too, but I never saw them eating thyroid compensating foods such as fish heads.

    I know they are not disease free. Peat mentions higher incidence of stomach cancer for example.

    The only reasons I can think of are genetic differences (males used to smoke a lot, yet they lived long) or the fact that they protect themselves from the sun (avoiding some fat oxidation). They also have natto (rich in K2), but they don't all seem to it, just occasionally.
     
  2. j.

    j. Guest

    Tea?
     
  3. OP
    jyb

    jyb Member

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    From what I saw, at most they like a reasonable amount a few times a day. That could be some caffeine, but not near as much as a few cups a of coffee and only if they drink caffeine rich leaves.
     
  4. gretchen

    gretchen Member

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    The Japanese have a high suicide rate.
     
  5. OP
    jyb

    jyb Member

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    I'm not sure, but isn't that mainly the young ones because of the social pressures? If so, its even more odd that the older ones, who ate PUFAs and were pressured, are considered healthy.

    As I said, they are bound to do worse on some metrics. But overall they are considered healthier.
     
  6. OP
    jyb

    jyb Member

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    I would also challenge that metric as relevant. The suicide rate in the US hasn't moved (maybe decreased slightly) over the decades, despite increasing PUFAs and lower food standards.
     
  7. Dorito Loyalist

    Dorito Loyalist Member

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    Racial differences maybe?
     
  8. OP
    jyb

    jyb Member

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    Ok so genetic. But that's not really talked about by Peat.
     
  9. Ray-Z

    Ray-Z Member

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    My quick take. I'm sure others have better info. :2cents

    Advantages of Japanese diet & lifestyle from Peat perspective:
    (1) High consumption of shellfish, etc.
    (2) In general, rice instead of wheat.
    (3) Relatively high-carb diet.
    (4) Tradition of "nose-to-tail" eating. Izakayas (somewhat analogous to pubs, but with arguably better food) serve lots of organ meats.
    (5) More dairy than you might expect. (A Japanese friend says that in her region, near Tokyo, milk and yogurt were very common and were included in school meals.)
    (6) More fruit and sweet snacks than you might expect.
    (7) A snobby food culture that, on average, probably delivers higher quality meats and dairy than are typical in the U.S.
    (8) Traditionally strong (albeit weakening) social support networks, both within families and in communities, universities, businesses, other organizations.
    (9) "Skilled relaxation" in the form of calligraphy, archery, martial arts, meditation, Shinto/Buddhist rituals.
    (10) Not too much addiction to stressful exercise.
    (11) The Japanese I've known consume lots of (reasonably strong) tea and coffee.
    (12) Moderate PUFA intake other than in fish?
    (13) CO2 in hot springs.

    Disadvantages of Japanese diet & lifestyle:
    (1) Suicidal work habits.
    (2) Fish, but probably less than you'd expect if you thought American sushi restaurants were representative of the Japanese diet. (Not saying anyone in this thread has made this mistake.)
    (3) RADIATION!!! :cry:
    (4) Significant, but not huge, amounts of fermented foods and vegetables.
    (5) Somewhat oppressive, hierarchical social structure that imposes substantial stress on women, students, ethnic minorities, people who "lose" the rat race, and outsiders.
    (6) Western habits making inroads over time.
     
  10. Ray-Z

    Ray-Z Member

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    A reluctance to run for miles on a treadmill or do crossfit or embrace the fad workout of the moment is not evidence of low metabolism. It's evidence of sanity.

    The Japanese I've known get a fair amount of low-key physical activity -- tennis, golf, walking, gentle hiking, etc. But even if they were sedentary, I wouldn't conclude on that basis that they have low metabolism.
     
  11. Jellyfish

    Jellyfish Member

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    Dont they also have high strokes rates but yes, they seem to be healthier than others. Does anyone know if they eat a lot of salt? I think they eat fresh fish.

    Birth control pills were legalized in 1999, but only a small number of women use it.
     
  12. Ray-Z

    Ray-Z Member

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    Great points about salt and birth control pills, ltu01001. The Japanese seem to get reasonable amounts of salt -- think salty soups and stews, miso, soy sauce, salty snacks...
     
  13. OP
    jyb

    jyb Member

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    From what I saw from my visit there:
    1) Some shellfish yes, but really not that much. Probably more fish than shellfish.
    2)3)6) It is true that they eat a nice bowl of rice sometimes starting at breakfast. But not sure about the fruit. I remember hunting for fruit juice there in grocery stores, it was very difficult. Artificial sodas are available at numerous vending machines.
    4) I didn't see any "nose to tail" eating. I visited sushi bars, groceries and traditional restaurants. Fish part were refined. Only exception are those dried small fish. But that's minor and very oxidized.
     
  14. Ray-Z

    Ray-Z Member

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    I need to make some corrections and clarifications to the lists of advantages and disadvantages of the Japanese diet in my hasty earlier post.

    Keep in mind that older generations of Japanese have consumed more traditional Japanese diets, and they are the ones who are generating the groovy Japanese longevity stats.

    I should not have called Japanese food culture "snobby," an unnecessarily pejorative term. I meant to say that many Japanese take food seriously, obsess over ingredients, and have sophisticated tastes and high standards for food.

    I overstated the amount of rice and rice derivatives in the Japanese diet, which of course also uses noodles not made from rice (udon, soba,...) and tubers (yams, taro,...) as staples. The basic point remains: On average, the Japanese consume less wheat than westerners, and get a substantial portion of their starch from semi-Peaty foods (rice and tubers).

    On reflection, I also understated the amount of non-starchy veggies in the Japanese diet. The Japanese truly know how to make veggies delicious; too bad most are unPeaty.

    I do not claim that the Japanese munch shellfish (sea urchin, prawns, squid, octopus, crab, abalone...) or offal (monkfish liver, shiokara, every part of the chicken, beef intestines, beef tongue...) with every meal, which would hardly be necessary to benefit by their inclusion in one's diet, or that you can't easily avoid those foods if you want, but that IME, the Japanese eat these foods much more often than average Americans do.

    List of Japanese activities for "skilled relaxation" was obviously incomplete (tea ceremony!) and illustrative.
     
  15. fabiomln

    fabiomln Member

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    a reason could be the high intake of iodine coming from alga.
    it is estimated they have an intake of about 16.000 mcg while the rda is only 150 mcg
     
  16. Rachel

    Rachel Member

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    Just off of the top of the ol' noggin, huh, Ray?
    :lol:
     
  17. Ray-Z

    Ray-Z Member

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    Actually, yes. I haz BIG mouf. :mrgreen:
     
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