1

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Is the Okinawan Diet healthier than the Paleo Diet?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 24, 2012 at 3:01 AM

http://okicent.org/docs/anyas_cr_diet_2007_1114_434s.pdf

Caloric Restriction, the TraditionalOkinawan Diet, and Healthy Aging The Diet of the World???s Longest-Lived People and Its Potential Impact on Morbidity and Life Span

Average life span and maximum life span in the Okinawan, Japanese, and U.S. populations was 83.8 and 104.9 years, 82.3 and 101.1 years, and 78.9 and 101.3 years, respectively.

Life expectancy at birth for the year 2000 was 86.0 years for Okinawan women and 77.6 years for Okinawan men, respectively. Life expectancy for the septuagenarian cohort (life expectancy at age 65) is the highest in Japan, and possibly the world, at 24.1 years for females and 18.5 years for males, respectively.40 This compares to 22.5 years and 17.6 years for the same birth cohort in mainland Japan and 19.3 years and 16.2 years for the corresponding U.S. birth cohort of females and males, respectively

See Table 1

85% Carbs, 9% Protein, 6% Fat

69% of the calories come from Sweet Potatoes

http://www.jacn.org/content/28/4_Supplement_1/500S.long

The Okinawan Diet: Health Implications of a Low-Calorie, Nutrient-Dense, Antioxidant-Rich Dietary Pattern Low in Glycemic Load

SO - is it the CR or the diet or a combination of both?

Dc6407193ba441d1438f6f0c06af872b

(4400)

on July 26, 2012
at 07:13 AM

"they may be eating a lot of grains ..." If they are eating 69% sweet potatoes, they are at least 69% paleo right off the bat!

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 24, 2012
at 04:23 PM

I can only comment on the corollaries that the demographers drew between the 5 regions. One of the things they discovered was the people who lived traditional lifestyles in Blue Zones ate approximately one helping of meat per week. This was a function that most were poor by our standards and could not afford meat mnore often. They focused only on the population that exceeded general life expectancy. In many of these regions, modern life is intruding and destroying the lifestyle and diet that gives these advantages.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on July 24, 2012
at 03:46 PM

I don't get the "low meat" thing- my friend, a linguist, went there to learn more about the elders "Howan" language, and he said they eat pork with pretty much every meal, breakfast/lunch/dinner. He had never eaten so much pork in his life as when he stayed there. They also ate a lot of tofu. His anecdotes, and conversions with other Japanese friends, make me wonder how "genuine" our western interpretation of this diet is, like how we butchered the "Mediterranean diet".

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 24, 2012
at 02:18 PM

I like your point about not being able to compare anything versus the so-called paleo diet because there is no paleo diet. When you can call what I eat (white rice, yogurt, lean meat like chicken breast, over 450 grams of carbohydrate daily etc) and what someone who eats no dairy, no rice, and only fattier cuts of meat paleo the entire point of comparison is comets lost.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 24, 2012
at 02:14 PM

Great point about active lifestyle, and not necessarily exercise per se, being important. while I lift weights and think many would benefit from that I think more important in a case like the bulk of the US is just being more active. This is where ELMM does indeed sound good to me. Move more just means live a more active lifestyle. Don't sit on a couch marinating in front of a TV; it doesn't have to mean power lifting or triathlons.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 24, 2012
at 02:11 PM

Pork, sweet potatoes, rice. Boom done. I could eat that every damn meal.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 24, 2012
at 01:22 PM

You should look into studies into 'Blue Zones'. They look at a wide variety of factors. Sadly, the 'Blue Zone' in Okinawa is being displaced with modern lifestyles and a SAD diet.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on July 24, 2012
at 01:16 PM

As far as I understand, so are genetics.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 24, 2012
at 12:43 PM

Lifestyle is a MAJOR factor in Okinawan longevity.

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6

(2422)

on July 24, 2012
at 07:25 AM

http://paleohacks.com/questions/1514/okinawa-diet-healthiest-oldest-people-on-the-planet#axzz21PRihHfR

F4aff43df6a8a49a1c3879c1233ee560

(459)

on July 24, 2012
at 04:53 AM

Sweet Potatoes and pork sounds paleo to me. In fact those ARE my staples.

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6 Answers

8
3dd59bff899261860c0bdaae8540cc70

on July 24, 2012
at 06:17 AM

Uh that IS a paleo diet.

Paleo is carb agnostic and besides that nutrient breakdown is bogus. There is way more fat than that.

They also don't shovel massive amounts of food down their gullets, they sleep good(I'm assuming), low levels of stress and more activities then US folks.

Keep in mind that a centenarian is just that:100 years or older-or hell even close to that is good enough. Think about how little you have in common lifestyle wise with your grandpa or whatever. They DON'T do a lot of stuff that we do that prob has all kinds of terrible and hidden consequences.

I hate population studies-they are almost always super biased and NEVER EVER take all important variables into consideration.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 24, 2012
at 01:22 PM

You should look into studies into 'Blue Zones'. They look at a wide variety of factors. Sadly, the 'Blue Zone' in Okinawa is being displaced with modern lifestyles and a SAD diet.

6
887a9c6c0ee243584548f02d45c439a6

(415)

on July 24, 2012
at 05:55 AM

Wasn't Okinawan diet actually quite fat-heavy?

http://stan-heretic.blogspot.cz/2009/10/beware-of-okinawa-diet-scam.html

6
F9013a3c7944d40c983e955f3cc83627

on July 24, 2012
at 03:55 AM

I imagine their lifestyles and stress levels could be very different as well.

6
C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 24, 2012
at 03:10 AM

It is probably many factors, but their diet also has very little processed food and industrial seed oils. They are also genetically able to handle carbs more, but the carbs that they eat are high quality carbs, such as sweet potatoes. You can't compare their diet to standard paleo diet, as there isn't one and there is no studies showing mortality rates over a population for a sustained period of time. Clearly what the Okinawans eat is healthier than the SAD diet, but that is an unfair comparison also. Would someone be wrong by eating how the Okinawans eat....maybe not, if they can handle the carbs. Chances are most Americans have damaged their metabolism beyond being able to handle that many, but it would still be an improvement over the Standard American Diet.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 24, 2012
at 02:18 PM

I like your point about not being able to compare anything versus the so-called paleo diet because there is no paleo diet. When you can call what I eat (white rice, yogurt, lean meat like chicken breast, over 450 grams of carbohydrate daily etc) and what someone who eats no dairy, no rice, and only fattier cuts of meat paleo the entire point of comparison is comets lost.

3
81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on July 24, 2012
at 04:12 AM

've had a lot of my vego/vegan friends throw this one at me and it got me thinking. I don't think its a good way to compare meat eating vs non-meat eating, I think there are quite a lot of factors at play here. The Okinawans would be eating very few, if any processed foods, I'd bet that all their food is organically grown/raised, their drinking/bathing water would be untreated, fresh from rivers or bores, so they aren't exposed to any chemicals or artificial substances. Their lifestyle would be highly active, well into old age. And they would be quite stress free, with lots of friends and family, and other social interaction. All these other factors have been shown to not only increase longevity, but quality of life as well.

So although they may be eating a lot of grains/pseudo-grains, they are also getting quite a lot of fresh organic produce that provides a lot of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other good nutrients that will all help keep any damage that grains are doing at a minimum.

Dc6407193ba441d1438f6f0c06af872b

(4400)

on July 26, 2012
at 07:13 AM

"they may be eating a lot of grains ..." If they are eating 69% sweet potatoes, they are at least 69% paleo right off the bat!

2
81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 24, 2012
at 01:04 PM

The 'Blue Zones' book discusses this and compares the Okinawan diet to 4 other areas in the world that share similar demographics (one is in the USA).

Calorie restriction, unprocessed 'natural' foods, and eating little meat (protein sources consisted of beans, soy, or milk of some sort) is the only thing that was common among the regions. Diets also were high in anti-inflammatories and anti-carcinogens. Other than that, their diets varied according to what was available locally. One group ate corn tortillas and eggs with every meal. That one I like!

Also consider that many/most lived with their families throughout their entire life. Multiple generations shared households/lived in the same village. It seems that communal living through family or 'extended' family has health benefits. The one in the USA is a religious group in California (forget the name currently) and that provided the communal living benefit.

Active lifestyles...not exercise was also a common theme. These people stand all day, work with their hands, and walk everywhere.

There are more correlations this book draws but it becomes clear, there is not a magic bullet out there. No specific mix of macronutrients and exercises will give you overall health. It is a lifestyle that sadly the modern world directly opposes.

It should also be clear that modern sanitation and medicine have to be in place for these advantages to occur.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 24, 2012
at 02:14 PM

Great point about active lifestyle, and not necessarily exercise per se, being important. while I lift weights and think many would benefit from that I think more important in a case like the bulk of the US is just being more active. This is where ELMM does indeed sound good to me. Move more just means live a more active lifestyle. Don't sit on a couch marinating in front of a TV; it doesn't have to mean power lifting or triathlons.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on July 24, 2012
at 03:46 PM

I don't get the "low meat" thing- my friend, a linguist, went there to learn more about the elders "Howan" language, and he said they eat pork with pretty much every meal, breakfast/lunch/dinner. He had never eaten so much pork in his life as when he stayed there. They also ate a lot of tofu. His anecdotes, and conversions with other Japanese friends, make me wonder how "genuine" our western interpretation of this diet is, like how we butchered the "Mediterranean diet".

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 24, 2012
at 04:23 PM

I can only comment on the corollaries that the demographers drew between the 5 regions. One of the things they discovered was the people who lived traditional lifestyles in Blue Zones ate approximately one helping of meat per week. This was a function that most were poor by our standards and could not afford meat mnore often. They focused only on the population that exceeded general life expectancy. In many of these regions, modern life is intruding and destroying the lifestyle and diet that gives these advantages.

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