7 Things Japan Can Teach You About Living A Long, Healthy Life


7 Things Japan Can Teach You About Living A Long, Healthy Life

      Reblogged:From HuffingtonPost                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Japan, the land that gave us such treasures as HokusaiMothra and the delicious snack-stick known as Pocky , offers what may be the world’s best blueprint for a healthy life. Not only do Japanese men and women routinely rank at the top of lists detailing humanity’s longest and healthiest life spans, but, in the most recent World Health Organization study, Japanese women came in first with life expectancies of 87.0 years.

And it’s not all due to genes. We teamed up with Aetna to give a head-to-toe examination of all of the secrets of the Japanese lifestyle, from seaweed to mountain climbing to zen. So while you might never turn Japanese, you’ll be able to live more like them.


They value a seafood diet.fatty fish

The Japanese love them a good fish. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, Japanese seafood consumption was 55.7 kilograms per capita in the last year of data available. (The U.S. ate just 24.2 kilograms.) The numbers put Japan in the top six of seafood consumption among larger nations. So important is their fish diet that trade groups and bureaucrats promoted a band to combat declining consumption levels among Japanese youth.

(The theme song they came up with goes: “Fish Fish Fish. You get smart when you eat fish.”)

The biggest benefit of eating fish may be this: many people that eat it outlive their fish-phobic friends. The consumption of fish lowers the risk of death by heart disease by 36 percent. More astounding, older people who have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, largely due to their consumption of fatty fish, lived an average of 2.2 years longerthan those with lower levels. Diets heavy in fatty fishes are also proven to elevate mood and prevent certain types of cancer and inflammation.

Scientists recommend eating two servings of fatty fish, like tuna or salmon, each week. For best results, make sure you poach, grill or steam it.                                                                                                                                                              But they don’t forget about all the other bounty of the sea.

 seaweed

The U.N. reports that Japan consumes about 100,000 tons of seaweed per year. And they aren’t picky about type: The Japanese use over 20 species of the stuff in their cuisine. In fact, residents of Japan’s southernmost island of Okinawa, known for breeding centenarians,eat more seaweed than anywhere else in the world.

Okay, but is kelp actually good for you? All signs suggest it is — amazingly so. Seaweed packs between 2 and 9 grams of protein per cup, and some varieties deliver exponentially more potassium than a banana. It’s also the rare food to contain natural iodine — a useful thing for regulating thyroids. Additionally, Harvard researcherstheorize that seaweed’s ability to regulate estrogen and estriadollevels may explain the island nation’s significantly low rates of breast cancer. (They may also ease symptoms of PMS.)

If you don’t like the flavor, you have options. (See: seaweed pasta.) That being said, seaweed is so nutrient-dense it can have side effects.Limit your intake of certain varieties to two tablespoons per week. But don’t worry too much; your sushi rolls are still good to go.

They made singing a national pastime. 

lostintranslation
Visitors might be shocked at just how prevalent — as in, it’s everywhere– karaoke is in Japan. The numbers do a little to help demonstrate the size of the Japanese pastime: In 2010, the Japanese karaoke industryraked in over 10 billion dollars. (To put that in perspective, that same year its film industry took in a record high 2.66 billion dollars.) The largest karaoke chain, Big Echo, operates in 229 locations across the country.

Well, here’s some good news for all the singers out there: Karaoke is good for you. In a 2009 study of almost 20,000 men, researchers at the Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine and Osaka University found that moderate drinking with friends improves cardiovascular health. To quote the study’s author: “Singers use deep breathing, which is good for the nervous system. After singing, they usually receive applause. It is a good kind of social support, and helps in the face of adverse occasions or stressful events.”

So gather some friends, and belt out a few notes.


One word: fermentation.

miso
We’re not talking sake here (although there’s evidence that it might have some benefits when imbibed in moderation). No, Japanese cuisine is rich in fermented foods, from the colorful tsukemono, or pickled side dishes, that paint every meal to the ubiquitous soy sauce, of which the average Japanese consumes 1.8 gallons per year. Japanese staples like soy, miso and the not-for-newbies bean paste natto are all achieved through fermentation.

In Japanese fermentative processes, fungal agent koji acts as the world’s tiniest mama bird, partially digesting food before it reaches human mouths. Research suggests that fermentation not only eases digestion, but also strengthens the immune system — scientists notethat the vast majority of immune cells live in our guts.

You don’t need more than a few servings a week for a benefit. Add miso paste as a marinade to your dishes, and enjoy better health and the amazing flavor.


The Japanese go green. 

japanese forest shrine
You might think the entire archipelago is covered in vast cities, but it’s actually pretty green; portions of the country are temperaterainforests. Given its beauty, it’s not surprising that reverence for nature has rooted its way into Japanese culture.

The Japanese government cemented nature-loving as policy when itapproved the country’s 16th national holiday, Mountain Day, which celebrates exactly what you think it would. And Japanese octogenarians have set records for mountain climbing. (Yes, an 80-year old climbed Everest. Feel bad about sitting on the couch tonight.) Furthermore, the Japanese are pioneering forest therapy, which consists of recuperative jaunts to local green spaces.

Time spent in nature provides serious health benefits. Almost every organ in your body is a battery for Vitamin D, and not getting enough of the wonder-nutrient leads to cancer, autoimmune disorder and arthritis. Furthermore, research shows that time in nature improves cognitive and creative function by 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

So do what your Mom told you, and get some fresh air.


They have the best baths.

snow onsen
Bathtime is serious business in Japan. As anyone who has been to asentō or onsen (public baths and hot springs) can tell you, they are an extremely relaxing way to spend time. About 85 percent of Japanese end their day in a bath, and some 128 million bathers visited the country’s public baths during 2010. As early as the 17th century, Japanese medical texts were touting a hot soak as a way of warding off ailments.

As it turns out, they may have been onto something. Japanese scientists confirmed that a bath in mineral-laden water can treat rheumatism, skin disorders and neuralgia. And if, like us, you use bath time for your daily meditation, that has health benefits too: two-thirds of patients who meditate showed significant drops in blood pressure.


Japan always makes time for tea.
green tea
The tea ceremony is a gorgeously stylized ritual in a country full of them. The tradition, studied for years by practitioners, takes place in a small structure modeled to look like a hermit’s hut. The idea is to lead your mind away from the everyday of life.

Despite the specialized ritual, tea consumption is an integral part of the everyday Japanese lifestyle. This habit puts them in the top tentea-drinking nations — ahead of their bigger neighbor, China. Most tea consumed in Japan is green. In fact, without a qualifier, the word for “tea” in Japanese automatically means green.

Green tea is not only delicious (have you had green tea ice cream?), but also insanely beneficial. Studies have connected drinking green tea to reduced risk of heart disease and cancer and higher levels of cognitive function. And Japanese citizens who drank five cups of green tea per day had 26 percent lower mortality rates.

 

Pumpkin Seeds: Amazing Natural Cure-all


 

Reblogged: From Yahoo Health

 

Pumpkin Seeds: Amazing Natural Cure - all Nutrition

 

Considered medicinal for more than 3,000 years in different parts of the globe, pumpkin seeds have a remarkable array of health benefits, new studies show. Packed with magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and vitamin K, these tasty treats are rated as one of the world’s healthiest foods.

 

In fact, a recent study showed that pumpkin seeds, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, offer a heart-healthy noshing option by reducing blood pressure. Also known as pepitas, the flat, dark-green seeds may also lower cholesterol, reduce diabetes risk, aid weight loss, improve your mood—and even fight cancer.

 

Here’s a look at some of the surprising ways this super-squash can protect your health.

 

1. Fights cancer

 

A new study published in Current Pharmaceutical Design reports that compounds known as cucurbitacins can help combat cancer–and pumpkin seeds are loaded with them. These compounds have been shown to kill various types of cancer cells and also have potent anti-inflammatory properties. “Taking all of these effects into account, cucurbitacins may prove useful in the treatment of different types of cancer,” researchers from University of Valencia, Spain report.

 

In another new study, German scientists found that eating pumpkin seeds lowered the risk of breast cancer by 23 percent in postmenopausal women. The study involved comparing dietary data from 2,884 women who developed breast cancer and 5,509 healthy women. The study also found that eating sunflower seeds and soybeans lowered risk.

 

Celebrities Who’ve Faced Breast Cancer

 

2. Boosts prostate health

 

Pumpkin seeds are just as beneficial for men, too. Pumpkin seed oil has been used to manage benign prostate hypoplasia (an enlarged prostate). In addition to the oily parts of the seeds, other phytochemicals may also help treat the condition. These compounds can also be found in flax seeds, saw palmetto berries and soy. According to this study, published in International Journal of Oncologya dietary supplement containing pumpkin seed may combat the growth and spread of prostate cancer.

 

Prostate Cancer: What You Should Know

 

3. Diminishes hot flashes and improves mood

 

Looking for a natural way to cool off from hot flashes? A 2011 double-blinded study suggests that pumpkin seed oil can reduce hot flashes, headaches, and joint pain and improve mood swings in post menopausal women, compared to a control group of women who were given lookalike capsules containing wheat germ oil. The same study noted that pumpkin seed oil improved women’s HDL (good) cholesterol levels and reduced blood pressure.

 

4. Lower bad cholesterol

 

In addition to boosting levels of HDL, pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols. In one analysis of 16 previous studies involving 509 people, these compounds reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol by an average of 13 percent, while total cholesterol dropped by 10 percent. Phytosterols work by blocking the absorption of cholesterol in your intestines and can lower the amount of cholesterol in your blood. A 2011 study recommended daily intake of phytosterol-rich foods as a natural way to lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk.

 

5. Decrease the risk of diabetes

 

In the world of super foods, pumpkin seeds are a must-try for diabetics. They are high in iron and heart-healthy unsaturated fats. In animal studies, researchers have indicated that the compounds in pumpkin may be successful in managing insulin levels and diabetes risk.

 

In fact, pumpkin was so beneficial in improving the health of diabetic mice that the Chinese researchers recommended that its compounds be developed into a new anti-diabetic medication for people.

 

6. Drive weight loss

 

Pumpkin seeds may also help you shed pounds. They are packed with fiber and protein—two important components for weight loss. Just one ounce of pumpkin seeds includes five grams of protein, which can keep you fuller longer.

 

Chow down in moderation, because a cup of pumpkin seeds in the shell contains about 285 calories, along with 12 grams of fat, while husked seeds contain 720 calories per cup.

 

7. Ease social anxiety, depression—and boost your mood

 

While pumpkin seeds are great for your body, they can help your mind as well. A study indicates that de-oiled pumpkin seed taken with glucose may be effective in treating social anxiety, and it may aid in treating depression. Speaking of mood-enhancers, a recent report indicates that pumpkin may help increase sex drive as well.

 

11 Symptoms of Low Testosterone

 

8. Ease arthritis

 

You may be able to eat your way to arthritis relief by snacking on pumpkin seeds. A 2005 study found that pumpkin oil reduces inflammation that causes arthritis. Pumpkin seed oil has the effects of indomethacin, a popular anti-inflammatory drug, and offers an all-natural way to treat arthritis symptoms.

 

9. Prevent osteoporosis

 

People with a zinc deficiency may want to consider snacking on pumpkin seeds. They are a substantial source of zinc, a mineral low in many people with bone fractures. In just a quarter of a cup, pumpkin seeds deliver 17 percent of your daily intake value of zinc.

 

 

I Lost Weight: Holly White Committed To Nutritious Eating And Lost 100 Pounds


  Reblogged:from Huffington Post                                                                                                                                             Name: Holly White                                                                                                            Age: 25                                                                                                                                    Height: 5’4″                                                                                                                         Before Weight: 275 poundsI Lost Weight Holly White

How I Gained it: When I was in college, I started eating out a lot at lunch, mostly at fast food restaurants because it was easy to grab a burger between classes. The habit of eating burgers and fries every day stuck with me even after college was over; I continued to eat unhealthy meals when I started working, as well. I would get fast food three to four times a week. I wasn’t eating enough fruits and veggies at the time, either. I would always go for the quick snacks like chips and candy, I didn’t control my portion sizes and I didn’t get enough exercise in my daily routine.

Breaking Point: I couldn’t stand having my picture taken because of the way I looked in photographs. I also got tired of going to the store and seeing all of the really cute outfits that I loved but couldn’t wear. It just really hit me one day that unless I made up my mind to do something about my weight, things would never change.

How I Lost It: I started Weight Watchers again (a few years before, I had actually lost about 30 pounds on the program, but I didn’t stick with it), and I started exercising every day. Exercising is definitely not the easiest or most fun thing when you first get started, but I knew it was something I needed to do in order to lose weight and get healthy. I started off by walking about 25 to 30 minutes each afternoon for about a week or so. Then, I just started working my time up and switching off between the treadmill and bicycle. I would walk outside sometimes, if the weather permitted. Once the weight started coming off, I was more motivated to exercise and continue losing. Now I walk, jog or bicycle around three to four miles every afternoon and I really enjoy it. I just don’t feel right if I don’t do some type of exercise now!

I also make healthier food choices; instead of eating a 100-calorie chocolate snack (even though it may only be a couple of WW points), I go for lots of fruit and veggies because they’re a lot better for me in the long run. I have become addicted to peaches and watermelon!

I think being older and more mature helped me to realize that my weight was very unhealthy and that I needed to do something about it now, not put it off until later. Everyone at work and my family was very supportive and really encouraged me the entire time, which I think is a really important thing. When someone is trying to lose weight, hearing the occasional “How much have you lost now?” or “You’re doing great, keep it up!” is really motivating and helps keep you going even on those rough days!

I definitely feel better about myself, both mentally and physically. And I can wear some of those cute outfits now!

After Weight: 173 pounds

Fabio’s Pasta and Bean Soup


Reblogged:from Shine                                                                                                                                         Fabio’s Pasta and Bean Soup                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nothing is better for families on a budget than the classic Pasta E Fagioli, Fabio’s super simple and delicious one pot soup with pasta and beans. It’s so flavorful, you’ll forget that it’s VEGETARIAN!

Tips:

  • Beans 101- High in protein and virtually fat-free, these delicious pods are versatile and packed with nutrients. The secret to cooking dry beans without soaking them overnight? Choose smaller beans.
  • Find the Perfect Pasta for Your soups, Soup is a great place to use up spare pasta: break up large noodles, or just add small shapes. Don’t add it until the last few minutes of cooking, and keep pasta on the side when storing soup for later use.
  • Cast-Iron CookwareThe Perfect Soup Pot. Cast-iron is able to maintain and withstand very high temperatures, so pots and pans are able to go from stove top to oven with no hassle. Their heavy weight distributes heat evenly, ensuring perfectly cooked dishes.

 

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 carrots, diced

1 onion, diced

2 celery stalks with leaves, diced

1 fennel bulb

3 bay leaves, dried

6 sprigs thyme

¾ lb. Borlotti beans

pinch sea salt

4 garlic cloves – grated

2-3 quarts chicken or vegetable stock

28 oz. can diced tomatoes

pinch sea salt

pinch fresh ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

2 cups small shaped pasta

20 fresh basil leaves

 

Method:

Heat a large cast-iron pot over medium heat. Add extra virgin olive oil.   Add carrots, onions, and celery and stir. Meanwhile, dice fennel. Add to pot and stir.Strip the thyme sprigs over the pot and discard sticks. Add bay leaf. Sauté about ten minutes, or until the vegetables caramelize and start to soften. Add Borlotti beans and grated garlic; stir.Add stock, canned tomatoes, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir, cover, and boil for one hour, or until beans are soft. Add pasta and cook for five minutes. If you don’t plan on serving the soup all at once, cook the pasta separately, and add to each bowl as you serve it. Otherwise, the pasta will soak up too much broth when stored. Chop basil and add to pot. Stir thoroughly, and remove from heat. Remove bay leaves and serve immediately

Do These 9 Things in Your Kitchen to Lose Weight


  Reblogged:from Shine                                                                                                                     Do These 9 Things in Your Kitchen to Lose Weight
The kitchen is the heart of the home, but it’s also the place that can make or break you on the weight loss front. If you’re on a quest to slim down, do these nine things in your kitchen.

Make fruits as accessible as a bag of chips: Wash, cut up, and store fruits such as grapes, melon, kiwi, pineapple, and apples in reusable containers in the fridge so they’re easy to grab. Make sure they’re right up front at eye level so they’re the first thing you see when you open the fridge door.

Prepare a big container of salad: Having a salad before dinner is a great way to fill you up so you eat less of the main course, but preparing a salad every night takes so much time that it’s tempting to skip out. Ensure you get a bowl of greens every night by making an enormous bowl of salad at the beginning of the week. You’re sure to eat a salad with dinner if it’s already made – just scoop out a bowl, top with vinaigrette, and enjoy.

Have measuring cups and spoons on the counter: Measuring your food will keep portions in check since overestimating serving sizes is a huge reason people don’t lose weight. Seeing measuring spoons and cups on your kitchen counter will be a visual reminder not to forget to use them.

More from FitSugar: The 6 Foods Every Runner Needs to Eat

Pre-make snack packs: You know what happens when you eat chips or crackers out of the box – you practically end up polishing off the entire package! Take your favorite healthy snacks such as mixed nuts, popcorn, cheese, and fresh fruit, grab some Ziploc baggies, and make some 100-calorie or 150-calorie snack packs you can keep in your cupboard or fridge.

Ditch the unhealthy foods: Your hubby and kids might be fans of an occasional can of soda, bowl of cookie dough ice cream, or Hershey’s Kiss, but if those foods are within your reach, you’re bound to crave them. Throw out or give away the junk because if it’s not in your kitchen, you can’t be tempted to eat it.

Use smaller-sized plates: When we prepare a plate of food, we feel the need to fill it up completely. If you start out with a smaller-sized salad plate, there’s only so much you can pile on, so you’ll end up consuming fewer calories.

More from FitSugar: 4 Monday Metabolism Boosters

Freeze fruits and veggies: Buy larger bags of fruits and veggies at the store and wash, cut, and store them in baggies in the freezer. You’ll not only save money when you buy in bulk, but you’ll also have them on hand to add to your smoothies, yogurt, pasta dishes, soups, and omelets.

Double or even triple the recipe: Whether you’re making soup, roasted veggies, quinoa salad, or something else for dinner, don’t just make enough for one meal. Package the leftovers in containers you can easily grab for the next few days’ meals. If your lunch or dinner is already prepared, you won’t have to resort to unhealthy takeout.

Put food away before you sit down to eat: After you’ve cooked up an amazing vegan mac and cheese, serve yourself an appropriate serving size and then wrap it up and put it in the fridge. If you leave it out, you’re more likely to go back for unnecessary seconds or thirds. Out of sight means off your hips.

How can I keep track of how much I am eating?


 Rebogged:from Weight-Control Information Network                                                                                                                                                                                        How can I keep track of how much I am eating?                                                                                                To control your weight, you need to do more than just choose a healthy mix of foods. You should also look at the kinds of food you eat and how much you eat at a time

A food diary can be a good way to keep track of how much you are eating. Write down when, what, how much, where, and why you eat. This action can help you be aware of how much you are eating and the times you tend to eat too much. You can keep a food diary in a notebook, on your cell phone, or on a computer.

Figure 2 shows what 1 day of a person’s food diary might look like. As shown in the diary, this person chose relatively healthy portion sizes for breakfast and lunch. At those meals, she ate to satisfy her hunger. She had a large chocolate bar in the afternoon for an emotional reason. She ate because she was bored, not because she was hungry.

By 8 p.m., this person was very hungry and ate large portions of food that were high in fat and calories. She was at a social event and did not realize she was eating so much. If she had made an early evening snack of fruit and fat-free or low-fat yogurt, she might have been less hungry at 8 p.m. and eaten less. By the end of the day, she had eaten a total of 3,930 calories, which is more than most people need to eat in a day. Repeatedly eating excess calories over time can cause weight gain.

If, like the woman in the food diary, you eat even when you are not hungry, try doing something else instead of eating:

  • Take a break to walk around the block.
  • Read a book or magazine or listen to your favorite music.
  • Try doing something with your hands, like knitting or playing cards or checkers.
  • Try drinking water or herbal tea without sugar or eating a low-fat snack such as an apple if a craving hits you.
  • If you are at work, grab a co-worker on the job and go for a quick walk.
    Figure 2. Example of a Food Diary Thursday
    Time Food Amount Place Hunger/Reason Calories*
    8 a.m. Coffee, black 6 fl. oz. Home Slightly hungry 2
    Banana 1 medium 105
    Low-fat yogurt 1 cup 250
    1 p.m. Turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread with mustard, tomato, low-fat cheese, and lettuce 3 oz. turkey, 1 slice low-fat cheddar cheese, 2 slices bread Work Hungry 363
    Potato chips, baked 1 small bag 150
    Water 16 fl. oz.
    3 p.m. Chocolate bar 1 bar (5 oz.) Work Not hungry/ Bored 760
    8 p.m. Fried potato skins with cheese and bacon 4 each Restaurant/       Out with       friends Very hungry 667
    Chicken Caesar salad 2 cups lettuce, 6 oz. chicken, 6 Tbsp. dressing, 3/4 cup croutons 633
    Breadsticks 2 large sticks 226
    Apple pie with vanilla ice cream 1/8 of a 9-inch pie, 1 cup ice cream 638
    Soft drink 12 fl. oz. 136

    Total Calories = 3,930

    *Estimates are based on the USDA’s online tool that measures diet and physical activity (http://www.choosemyplate.gov).

    A blank version of the diary for you to copy and use is on page 9 of this document’s PDF file.

    Through your diary, you can become aware of the times and reasons you eat less healthy foods or more food than your body needs. This can help as you try to make different choices in the future.

     

Wake-up call to parents: Children’s fast food meals to avoid


Hardees Kids Meal

Hardees Kids Meal (Photo credit: nibaq)

Reblogged:from Huffington Post                                                                                Wake-up call to parents: Children’s fast food meals to avoidLet’s face it: we all love fast food kids’ meals. Kids love them for the toys and packaging; parents love them because they’re easy and convenient. Plus, when they include apples and cheese, they have some nutritional value, right?Well, not exactly, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. According to PCRM, the meals are loaded with sugar and  sodium, and really offer very little nutritional value. They’ve come out with a list of the 5 worst “healthy” fast food kids’ meals. See if some of your favorites are on the list, but remember, the best  advice…everything in moderation.                                                                                                                                                                                           The Committee says that certain fast  food kids’ meals marketed as “healthy” are anything but. “Frankly,  passing off these meals as ‘healthy’ ought to be a crime at a time when 16.9 million American children and adolescents are obese,”  says  PCRM president Dr. Neal Barnard. “The focus on junk food targeted to  kids is important, given how miserably the fast-food industry has failed to live up to its promise of self-regulation.” Here Is a link to the video http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/wake-up-call-to-parents-worst-fast-food-kids-meals-that-will-surprise-you.html  How often do you treat your kids to fast food meals?                                                                                                                           Eating, Fast food, Food, Happy Meal, Health, Healthy Ways to Lose Weight, Human nutrition, International Food Information Council, Kids’ meal, McDonald, Neal D. Barnard, Obesity, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, United States, Weight, Weight Loss Tips, weight tips