The people on Japan’s “Island of Immortals” may have discovered the secret to a longer life. Okinawa island is located in the East China Sea, between the Japanese mainland and Taiwan. On top of being absolutely beautiful, the island’s average lifespan is between five and 11 years longer than in the United States. And the environment may have more to do with it than we think.
People on Japan’s “Island of Immortals” may have discovered the secret to longer life
On the island, the average lifespan for women is 90 years, while men live an average lifespan of 84, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare reports. Additionally, elderly people on the island tend to be less likely to develop diseases like coronary heart disease, strokes, or cancer. Thus, it really does seem they have hacked into the secret to a longer life.
Other “old age” diseases like dementia are also uncommon, Unilad reports. Of course, researchers are unsure exactly what causes the island’s inhabitants to have longer lives. There do appear to be some age-related phenomena due to the island’s positive aging process. Researchers also noted that many of the islanders were lean, had low rates of chronic diseases, and had high levels of energy.
Yet another study by researchers found that the residents’ genetic makeup also helps prevent autoimmune diseases. It also seems to prevent inflammatory diseases, too. However, these preventive genetics appear to be lost if an islander moves to a new place and undergoes a lifestyle change. The islanders’ eating and living may be part of the secret to a longer life.
Hara Hachi Bu
One important aspect of the islanders’ lives that researchers have focused on is a cultural practice known as “Hara Hachi Bu.” When practicing Hara Hachi Bu, the islanders only eat until they are around 80 percent full. As such, they aren’t allowing themselves to overeat. This means lower calorie intake and fewer “free radicals” in their digestive systems.
Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules with a free electronic. They’re often formed through natural processes within the cell. However, stress, diet, alcohol, smoking, and even exercise can also cause free radicals. Eating less may help keep their free radicals in check, but is it the secret to a longer life? That’s unclear.
What we do know is that the islanders who call Okinawa home follow a strict lifestyle that seems to have immense benefits for their health. As such, they’re able to live much longer than others around the world. Whether or not this secret to longer life would work as well outside the island remains to be seen, though.