Okinawa Diet: Principles, Foods, Benefits, Precautions

Rich in vegetables, fruits and fatty fish, the Okinawan diet promotes health and longevity. It is named after a small island off the coast of Japan, and world famous for the longevity of its inhabitants, Okinawan. According to the research group Okinawa centennial study, the exceptional average age and low prevalence of diseases related to aging are said to be linked to the way of life and genetic particularities of the inhabitants, but also to their traditional diet† So what are the keys?

The Main Principles of the Okinawa Diet

The Okinawa diet is a flexitarian diet (half vegetarian), low fat (they represent less than 25% of total calories). It is the Japanese Makoto Suzuki, cardiologist and gerontologist, who is one of the first to be interested in it. In the 1970s, he moved to Okinawa to open a pharmacy there. He was then struck by the presence of many centenarians. His later studies were the first to show thata diet low in saturated fat and calories was the key to this phenomenon. Thus, the diet of Okinawan centenarians and their way of life has gained popularity over the years and books, most notably, have been published by two members of his research team, twins Bradley and Craig Willcox.

Several guidelines guide this diet:

  • To consume fresh products, low in calories, rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Prefer the small portions (kuten gwa);
  • Stop eating before you are full (hara hachibu);
  • Practice a enough regular physical activity
  • And eat while integrated the healing power of certain foods (nuchi gusui).

What foods can we eat?

As mentioned above, popular foods on the “Okinawa Diet” are foods that are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. So we bet:

  • secure fresh vegetablesespecially vegetables that are high in fiber and low in calories, such as cucumber, tomato, eggplant, etc.;
  • secure fresh fruit
  • secure grains and starch (preferably whole wheat, sweetcorn, sweet potato),
  • secure soy products
  • secure dairy products (natural yoghurt, very fresh cheese),
  • secure tea
  • and further herbs (turmeric, artemisia, etc.).

Which foods should you limit?

The Okinawa Diet Stimulates moderate consumption (maximum 3 times a week):

  • rice,
  • pasta,
  • bananas,
  • lawyers,
  • potatoes,
  • and seafood.

Meat (only lean meat), Eggsthe alcoholnuts and oilseeds (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, etc.) consume only in exceptional circumstances!

Which foods are prohibited?

The Okinawa diet is not a restrictive diet designed to help you lose three pounds a week. No food is strictly “forbidden”, but to protect your health, it is better to avoid

  • processed products,
  • sugar,
  • salt,
  • cream
  • and cheeses.

Breakfast :

  • Traditional version: miso soup, seaweed and tofu, rice, green tea
  • Western variant: rye bread or wholemeal bread, very fresh cheese, fruit, tea

During lunch :

  • Traditional version: seaweed salad and cucumber salad, grilled eggplant, rice, eel skewer, papaya, green tea
  • Western variant: brown rice, spaghetti with garlic and lemon basil, fish en papillote, cucumber salad

At dinner :

  • Traditional version: rice with red beans and guava, pineapple
  • Western variant: rice with cornflakes and mushrooms, spicy tofu, citrus vinaigrette, fruit, tea

Cost, expensive… is this diet easy to follow?

Logistically, the Okinawa diet may present some difficulties at first, but you quickly adapt. It calls for buying fresh, seasonal and unprocessed foods. But also to take the time to cook them. In terms of quantities, the food invites you to listen to your hunger pangs. A financial investment, but also a personal, which takes time and research to develop the most suitable recipes.

The Okinawan diet can be adopted temporarily, but rather it is intended to become a way of life, the benefits of which can be revealed over time. It is therefore recommended to apply the principles of this diet throughout your life in order to stay in good health.

Please Note: The Okinawan Diet is compatible with the Vegetarian Diet, Gluten Free Diet, Kosher Diet, and Halal Diet. On the other hand, it is not compatible with the vegan diet.

lThe Okinawan diet can be considered part of weight loss as it is a combination of light calorie restriction and physical activity. But losing weight is not the primary goal, and intuitive eating (self-managed amounts) occupies such a place that it limits negative feelings (fear of failure, guilt, etc.) and possibly increases the chance of success.

To succeed in inducing calorie restriction, without counting calories to achieve a healthy weight that is not harmful to aging, followers of the Okinawa diet recommend eating by following the principle of the energy density of food (which corresponds to) the calorific value per 100 g of food, divided by 100. Thus, in the Okinawan diet, it is still recommended to consume:

  • as they please foods with an energy density less than 0.7
  • of moderation those whose energy density is 0.8 to 1.5
  • occasionallyin small quantities, those whose energy density is 1.6 to 3
  • seldom those whose energy density is greater than 3

Is the Okinawa Diet Dangerous to Health?

This way of feeding: comes with a philosophy and a way of life which do not aim to limit or endanger the health of his followers. Three points of vigilance must nevertheless be monitored:

  • The resumption of physical activity, a fortiori in an overweight person, should monitored to avoid any cardiovascular risk. Training should be progressive.
  • Like any hypocaloric (low calorie) diet, the Okinawa diet can expose you to: hypoglycemic discomfort† Listen to your body and don’t set unrealistic goals.
  • Finally, consumption of seaweedlow-calorie, but very interesting, can affect thyroid function, but also heart disease, kidney failure, treatment with an iodine or lithium drug and in pregnant or lactating women without medical advice.

Otherwise, self-limiting calorie intake (intuitive eating) should, at least initially, be supervised by a professional.

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