Centenarians in Ishigaki, Okinawa

The lifestyle of the Okinawan people is an interesting one. Did you know that the inhabitants live longer than anyone else in the world? What kind of lifestyle do the people in Okinawa follow in order to achieve this life longevity? In this blog we share all you need to know to become as healthy as the Okinawan people!

Longevity hotspot

Okinawa is a longevity hotspot with the highest ratio of centenarians in the world; 34 centenarians per 100.000 inhabitants! The average age of woman is 86 and the average age of men is 78 years old, which is high compared to the rest of the world.
The Okinawans don’t only live longer, but they also suffer less from chronic Western diseases. Inflammatory diseases are unprecedented, dementia rates are much lower than the global average and stress is unknown.

Okinawan lifestyle

For the centenarians it is impossible to say that there is only one thing, one secret, that can change our life and gives us the same longevity as them. It is a combination of more factors, but luckily for us these can be easily integrated into our lives.

Life goals

Everything starts with having a life goal; every Okinawan has its own life goal which gives (a deep) meaning to their daily life. The Okinawans keep this goal in mind by everything they do! Besides having a life goal, the Okinawans are always optimistic, don’t worry about anything, celebrate the smallest things, maintain their friendships on a daily basis and live without haste.

One thing that surprised us during our stay in Okinawa, is the fact that they don’t know the word “retirement”; we have seen so many centenarians which were still working in their store at the local markets. The business woman are vital, energetic and know how to run their business. Super cool and cute at the same time!

Business woman in Naha, Okinawa

Other factors that benefit the Okinawan lifestyle

To benefit of the healthy Okinawan lifestyle, we could integrate the following things into our lives.

  • Make sure you excercise on a regular basis; walk or cycle at least 20 minutes per day.
  • Use your legs instead of taking the elevator or escalator. This is beneficial for your body posture, muscles and your respiratory system.
  • Participate in social activities. Okinawans are member of a club in which they feel loved. They also feel useful because they can always help someone else.
  • Replace snacks by fruit.
  • Sleep enough but not too long. It is recommended to sleep between 7PM and 10PM. It is advisable to switch of your computer, phone or TV three hours before you go to bed and you should have your last cup of coffee ten hours before you go to bed.
  • Play with children, pets or do some sports. This strengthens your body, stimulates your mind and benefits your self-esteem.
  • Pay attention to your daily life. This allows you to detect harmful routines and replace them with more positive habits.
  • Have a little garden and produce your own fruit of vegetables. Every single centenarian has its own little garden where they work in every day. It is good to relax and calm the mind and at the same time it strengthens the body.
  • Live with passion and have one or more missions. Each Okinawan has a mission and they are working on it every day with great pleasure. Most important is that they don’t put themselves under pressure!

Lifestyle of Okinawan people

Okinawan diet

Okinawans consume seven fruit, vegetable and whole grain dishes per day. Twice a day they consume soy dishes. The meat that is consumed in Okinawa is (Wagyu) beef or pork that has been boiled until the fat disappeared.

A very important rule in Okinawa is the 80%-rule; don’t fill up, but eat slowly and stop when 80% of your stomach has been filled up. To help you with this, the dishes are presented in small bowls. This also creates a variety of dishes and thus different nutrients.

The drinks that the Okinawans consume on a daily basis are water and green tea. Alcohol is avoided. When woman do want to drink alcohol, they take one glass per day. Men can take two glasses per day.

Okinawan noodles in Ogimi, Okinawa

We simply loved the food in Okinawa, especially the Okinawan noodles and shaved ice! 😉 Even though restaurants serve a lot of food, we never felt “stuffed” or had stomach issues. The food is very light and easy to digest. Every traditional Okinawan meal is healthy and meets your micro and macro intake!

When we were on our way to Okinawa, we expected to discover the secret(s) of this healthy lifestyle and life longevity. But as we could predict, more factors needed to be taken into account. 
Although we don’t have the same tropical climate in The Netherlands and we do face more stress in the western world, we truly believe that these little things can add value to our lives. Since they are so simple to integrate, why shouldn’t we give it a try?