Simply because this is what the world’s oldest and healthiest cultures and people do. These are the centenarian cultures with the longest lifespans, the lowest rates of disease and the lowest use of drugs and medications. The lessons from Nagano in Japan, Loma Linda in the USA, Abkhasia in Russia, the Longevity Village of Bapan in China, Costa Rica in North America, Sardinia in Italy, Vilcabamba in South America, Ikaria in Greece, and the Hunza people from Pakistan.
The single most impressive and overwhelming evidence that ‘health and longevity come from eating a local, fresh, plant-based, wholefood diet and eating far less than we do’, is demonstrated in the 161 beautiful islands of Okinawa, Japan. The elderly people on these islands have been studied more extensively than any other population on earth. In Okinawa, every village, town, island and city has meticulously recorded birth and death records reaching back to 1879. After 30 years of exacting study by medical research teams from the Okinawa Centenarian Study and The Okinawa Program, it was concluded that the three leading killers in the West, heart disease, stroke and cancer, occur in elderly Okinawans with the lowest frequency of any elder population verified and studied by modern science. By 1995, Okinawan life expectancy had surpassed the absolute limits of population life expectancy estimated by the Japan Population Research Institute and many biodemographers.
The Okinawans boast the world’s longest life expectancy; the world’s healthiest lifespan and the world’s highest count of centenarians. They also have around 15% of the world’s verified super-centenarians (aged 110 and older), despite a relatively small population of 1.4 million residents! This is less than 1% of 1% of 1% of the world’s population. They do all of this in great health, with energy and mobility and with the lowest rates of heart disease, stroke and cancer, in any elders, anywhere in the world.
All the GOLDEN Rules
Elderly Okinawans have impressively young and clean arteries, low cholesterol, and low homocysteine levels when compared to Westerners. These factors reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke by up to 80%. Male Okinawan elders are 88% less likely to die from prostate cancer, women are 70% less likely to die from ovarian cancer and 70% are less likely to die from colon cancer. The studies have consistently found that lifestyle, rather than genetics, is the major player in keeping the Okinawans healthy for life. At the heart of the Okinawan lifestyle is their cultural habit of ‘hara hachi bu’, which means ‘to stop eating when you are 80% full.’ The Okinawan people experience a healthy, vital, disease free and drug free long life on a daily intake of around 1900 calories. This is far lower than our typical, modern average of 2,500-3,000 calories.
Mostly plants, not too much…
The Okinawan diet is a plant-based wholefood diet, rich in sweet potatoes (kumara), much like the ‘healthy’ Mediterranean diet. They do not eat processed fatty foods, polished white rice or drink cola drinks. They do not overeat, smoke cigarettes or drink coffee or alcohol. They do eat meat for very rare ceremonial occasions but it is no more than 5% of their diet. They eat traditionally prepared soybean dishes like tofu, natto and miso soup, sweet potatoes called imo and konnyaku, many servings of wholegrains such as brown rice; mugwort (an aromatic plant), seaweed, onions, broccoli, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, tomatoes, kudzu (a legume), bitter melon, bamboo shoots, pickles and flaxseed. They eat fish (dried bonito) two or three times per week. All of this is garnished with garlic, ginger and turmeric, and washed down with copious jasmine and green tea!
The research, studies and food recommendations from the WCRF & AICR 2018, to help lower your risk of, and to prevent, breast cancer, are built around following; a no-alcohol, plant-based wholefood diet.
Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective (the Third Expert Report – 2019) is a comprehensive analysis, using the most meticulous methods, of the worldwide body of evidence on preventing and surviving cancer through diet, nutrition and physical activity. It builds on the ground-breaking achievements of the First and Second Expert Reports, published in 1997 and 2007 respectively.
There is a vast amount of evidence that eating a plant-based wholefood diet lowers, and in some cases, reverses, heart disease and hypertension. This has been shown in the fasting studies, the chicken studies, the saturated fats studies, the fibre studies, the plant-based eating studies, and of course, the meat-is-directly-linked-to-heart-disease studies.
A healthy plant-based diet is simply mostly eating ‘plant-based wholefoods’ – such as apples rather than apple juice – as these are plant foods in their natural state, unrefined, and with their natural fibres, antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals intact. Eat mostly plant foods, mostly wholefoods, and you receive the benefits, as the centenarian cultures do.
Additional evidence and studies on how plant-based diets can prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Jason wishes to deeply thank, acknowledge and recognise the effort and contribution that the PIF Foundation has provided on a voluntary basis since 2014, as we educated, motivated and inspired change that helps transform the health, vitality and longevity of people all over the world.