This is a follow up post to my previous post titled You Should Know – Folks are Living Longer, But…
First of all, hopefully you get the pun in the title of this article (if you do not, you can comment and I will fill you in :)).
Anyway, I wanted to follow up on the post I mentioned at the top of this one based on comments it received, as well as after I just thought about it a bit on my own.
I wanted to revisit the first rhetorical question that I asked in that post, which was:
Why does the United States not make the top 10 for females OR males?
It really is pretty confusing, at least for me. I mean, our country has long been considered a superpower in the world, and some today even consider it to be the superpower. Therefore, it seems like it should follow that our nation is home to the healthiest (or close to healthiest) living beings. However, according to the article I referenced in my old post, although the life expectancies in the U.S. are better than average, we still rank behind 36 other countries.
Something else that seemed contradictory to me was the fact that the U.S. spends so much on healthcare (by the way, I am not speaking of, or trying to get into recent political debates about healthcare; I am speaking generally). According to this press release from the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. spends more of their GDP than any other country on healthcare, and yet, WHO mentions France, Italy, Spain, Oman, Austria and Japan as having the top performing healthcare systems among major countries. No United States.
To revisit this post title, money cannot buy the United States better health statistics, at least in my opinion. If it could have, then maybe it would have. What are we missing?
A couple of articles on my last post talked about aspects of healthy lifestyles that occur in Japan, so based on those, as well as some things I read in a book I purchased years ago (titled “50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People” by Sally Beare), I wanted to focus on them to try and see what they are doing right.
They eat healthily. The Japanese eat a lot of food, but they still do not eat a lot of calories. How is that? Well, it is because their diet consists of a lot of vegetables and fruits. Therefore, they consume a highly nutritious diet. They also eat a lot of fish, but consume lean meats in small amounts. They drink plenty of water and tea (like green tea, for example…not southern sweet tea).
Exercise is a part of their lifestyle. There is some structured exercise, like martial arts, dance, and the open-air free exercise sessions that one of the comments mentioned, but also, in some especially longevity spots in Japan, the occupations are such that they include exercise (i.e. fishing, farming).
They keep stress down. Now it does not take long for any of us to realize how stressful life can be in the U.S. Another reason for longevity in Japan is that they somehow manage to keep stress to a lower level. Community is a big part of this; having strong links to other family and friends ensures that problems are not dealt with on an individual basis. Meditation is also popular, and helps to keep minds from worry.
What can we learn from this? Well, again, we cannot buy our way to health, so that’s out. It seems to me like if we cultivate lifestyles of 1)truly healthy eating, 2)exercise that is integrated into daily activity, and 3)lowered stress brought about by knitting our communities back together and meditating on the good instead of worrying about the bad, we will start to get on the right track.