LOOK­ING FOR AN­SWERS TO AGE-OLD OKINAWA QUES­TION

Life & Style Weekend - - EYE WELLNESS -

Want to live un­til you’re 100 — and stay slim while you’re at it? Well, you may want to take in­spi­ra­tion from one area of Ja­pan, which has one of the world’s high­est rates of cen­te­nar­i­ans.

Al­most two-thirds of the peo­ple in the Okinawa re­gion are able to live in­de­pen­dently un­til the age of 97. For every 100,000 in­hab­i­tants, there are 68 peo­ple over the age of 100.

So what’s their se­cret? Sci­en­tists be­lieve it’s their ultra-high carb, low pro­tein diet.

The “Okinawa diet or ra­tio” is 10:1 carbs to pro­tein, which ex­perts be­lieve has been pro­tect­ing peo­ple in the re­gion from var­i­ous age-re­lated ill­nesses like can­cer, heart dis­ease and Alzheimer’s.

The area’s tra­di­tional diet is rich in sweet potatoes, as well as plenty of other brightly coloured veg – no­tably green and yel­low – which tend to con­tain a load of vi­ta­min C, E and A. They eat very lit­tle pro­tein and when they do have it, it tends to be soy or fish.

Although they’re big on carbs, the num­ber of un­pro­cessed grains they con­sume is ac­tu­ally very lit­tle.

Un­like the rest of Asia, the Ok­i­nawans don’t rely on rice as their main source of calo­ries — fill­ing up on sweet potatoes in­stead.

And de­spite their carb-load­ing ways, they tended to eat about 11 per cent fewer calo­ries than the rec­om­mended daily al­lowance for adults.

The group’s longevity is so amaz­ing that their diet has been the sub­ject of a study, called the Okinawa Cen­te­nar­ian Study (OCS), which has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing the health of the re­gion’s age­ing pop­u­la­tion since 1975. The study has found the diet is high in fi­bre and low in re­fined carbs, which prob­a­bly has an anti-in­flam­ma­tory ef­fect on the body, pre­vent­ing age-re­lated ill­nesses.

But some sci­en­tists sug­gest that the re­gion’s longevity may be less to do with the carb-to-pro­tein ra­tio, and more to do with the amount of fruit and veg the re­gion eats.

Karen Ryan, a nu­tri­tional bi­ol­o­gist at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis, told the BBC that while a low-pro­tein diet may be ben­e­fi­cial up un­til the age of 65, be­yond that, peo­ple tended to ben­e­fit from eat­ing more pro­tein. She says it may be more to do with where you get that pro­tein from that mat­ters.

Plant-based pro­teins like soy may be bet­ter in terms of re­duc­ing in­flam­ma­tion than things like meat and dairy. – The Sun

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