Want to live to be 100? Look to Japan for guidance. They have the highest number of people per capita over the age of 100 than any other country, so they know what it takes to live a long life. Some of that may be genetic, but some has to do with diet and lifestyle habits that we could borrow to improve our longevity.
- Eat some seaweed - It’s a staple of the Japanese diet and it’s loaded with nutrients like copper, iron, protein, fiber and omega-3 fats. Nori is the type of seaweed Americans are most familiar with - it’s the stuff used to wrap sushi - but there are many different types, including wakame, which is usually used in seaweed salad and soups.
- Stock up on seafood - Japan has one of the world’s lowest rates of heart disease and that’s attributed to their healthy diet that’s high in seafood. Eating seafood twice a week is also linked to better brain and emotional health.
- Drink green tea - It’s considered one of the healthiest beverages thanks to all the polyphenol antioxidants that reduce inflammation, protect cells from the kind of damage that can promote chronic diseases and feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. Green tea is a daily habit in Japan and can be sipped or used as a base in smoothies, oatmeal, or even rice.
- Eat until you’re almost full - There’s a saying in Japan - hara hachi bu - that means only eating until you’re 80% full. That way you’re satisfied, but not uncomfortable and your body gets what it needs without overdoing it.
- Practice some forest bathing -This form of nature therapy doesn’t involve an actual bath, but it’s all about being mindful and tuning in to the natural setting by using your senses to take it all in. It’s like a form of meditation that lets your mind and body relax and one study finds that compared to being in a city, being in a forest is linked to lower blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Maintain strong social circles - One reason Japanese people have better physical and emotional wellbeing as they get older is that staying socially connected is built into their culture. Multi-generational households and working past retirement age are common and that helps people stay socially engaged and keeps them from feeling isolated or lonely.