Last week I was fortunate enough to visit the land of the rising sun, Japan. I don't know if you have noticed yet, but the Japanese live long, they are lean and healthy, and they age very slowly. During my trip, I was eager to crack the Japanese code that creates this overall health. Well, by talking to different people and noticing what was going on around me I found nine habits the Japanese have that are contributing to their overall level of health and wellness. Here they are:
- They drink lots of green tea: Unlike the United States, you don't see the Japanese guzzling a 16 oz coke at every meal. Instead, they drink lots of hot green tea. Green tea contains bioactive contents that improve health. These include polyphenols that are powerful antioxidants (no wonder those people age slowly!). Studies also show that compounds in green tea increase metabolism and fat burning. So adopt this Japanese habit and sip on green tea all day! I noticed they drank a powdery tea called Sencha instead of brewing their tea. By drinking this powdery tea with meals - rather than steeping, they are actually eating the entire leaf in powder form - see the link below to buy!
- They drink brothy soups before a meal: While, we are eating fattening appetizers when dining out, the Japanese have brothy soups (e.g. Miso soup) before every meal. When you go to a restaurant a brothy soup is usually included as an appetizer. By adding brothy soups before each meal, we become full before eating our main meal without adding too many calories. A traditional miso soup has 36 calories, meanwhile a traditional American appetizer has an average of 400 calories.
- They enjoy other types of protein that are not animal based: The Japanese eat some animal-based products, but their traditional cuisine uses animal based proteins sparingly. Instead they diversify their protein intake by also eating wheat, tofu, and soy milk. When they do eat animal flesh, the Japanese focus on fish.
- They drink matcha tea: Matcha was used as medicine by ancient buddhist monks in Japan because of its high vitamin C content. Today we know that matcha has a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg). EGCg is a powerful cancer fighter and matcha green tea contains 100 times more EGCg than any other tea in the market. Matcha is basically green tea on steroids. Do yourself a favor and drink matcha once a day! I know I do! - see the link below to buy!
- They don't add a bunch of sugar to their tea: Now I will tell you something that the Japanese don't do: Added sugars. You will never see a Japanese ask someone to sweeten their tea. Even matcha - sweet matcha is an american invention - stay away from it. Great matcha is aired to become less bitter. If you can't stand the bitterness - do like the Japanese. Drink your matcha with a healthy sweet instead.
- They eat using chopsticks: Have you tried eating regular food with chopsticks? If you have, you know that you are not stuffing your mouth with food because it is simply difficult to do so. By eating with chopsticks, the Japanese practice mindful eating with a slower pace. You won't see anyone stuffing their face with any food in Japan. You don't necessarily have to use chopsticks to eat, but try practicing more mindful eating by taking smaller bites and chewing more times (up to thirty times before swallowing).
- They eat lots of seaweed : The american diet is low in iodine which prompted our government to add iodine to table salt. However iodine deficiency is still a problem causing many to develop thyroid disease. The Japanese eat a lot of seaweed which helps them to get their recommended levels of this important mineral. Want to add a brothy soup and increase your iodine levels? Then do like the Japanese and try adding some miso soup to your diet!
- Ginseng shots: You see Ginseng shots everywhere you go in Japan and I ended up buying some for myself. According to the Japanese Ginseng shots are supposed to help with circulation and your immune system, provide an energy boost, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and even help treat diabetes. I just added Ginseng to my morning routine. Maybe you should try it for yourself - see the link below to buy!
- They walk a lot! Cars are a luxury in Japan, and you will often see 300-500 people cross the streets of Tokyo during rush hour. They walk everywhere likely logging over 10,000 steps a day. I have personally been obsessed with the 10,000 steps a day deal for a long time, but now I want to log even more steps daily. Want to be able to track your steps? Get a fitbit! It was the best thing I did for myself... Then friend me! I really enjoy some healthy competition! - See the link below to buy!