When it comes to aging and staying slim, it seems as though Japanese women – and Asians in general – have hit the genetic jackpot. Many a comedian has speculated on how you never see an ‘old Asian lady’ and their slight frames are just well-known.
And it’s not just an amusing stereotype. It’s actually true – Asian women for the most part do seem to age particularly well and it’s not until they reach a certain age that they start to show any signs of wrinkles.
And Japanese women hold many world records when it comes to long lifespans (as do Japanese men). There’s even a book on it by one Naomi Moriyama called “Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat”.
So what’s the secret?
Part of it is genetics. But part of it is also their diet, which is generally super healthy.
What We Can Learn From the Diet of Japanese Women
So if you were to look at the ingredients enjoyed by many Japanese women in the kitchen, what would you find?
It’s all super health:
- Sea vegetables
- Green tea
Already this tells us a little about what we need to know. Sea vegetables are simply packed with minerals and vitamins but more impressive is the fish which is high in omega 3 fatty acid.
Omega 3 helps to improve the look of the skin by aiding natural oil production, it’s a powerful antioxidant (which fights cancer and wrinkles) and it aids cell membrane permeability to help combat Alzheimer’s (among other things). Caffeine, found in green tea, also helps combat age related cognitive decline.
Rice has recently been implicated in fighting ageing thanks to a substance known as phytoceramides which help the skin to form a stronger protective outer layer, trapping in more moisture. Phytoceramides have in-fact been called ‘facelifts in a pill’ (but of course it’s better to get it naturally).
Note as well the distinct absence of potato chips, chocolate bars or ready meals. Most Japanese women still cook the majority of their meals at home with fresh ingredients meaning they aren’t eating lots of sugar – one of the biggest causes of aging, weight gain and various other problems.
Oh and re: weight gain, the Japanese eat small portions. Just take a look at their plates – they’re about a third the size of our crockery.
Exercise, Lifestyle and Genetics
You’ve heard that people cycle everywhere in Hong Kong and that’s also true of much of the rest of Asia. Exercise is also very common in Japan with walking, hiking and staying active all a common part of the routine. Japan has lots of large open areas including parks in the bigger cities and towns.
The Japanese also statistically visit their doctors for lots of checkups, which helps to catch problems early.
And then there’s genetics, which do of course play a role. What’s more, generations of eating healthily and getting lots of exercise and time outside help to build a stronger foundation for the children. So if you won’t take a leaf out of their book for yourself, do it for your kids!