There are more 100-year-olds in Japan than you might think, and they might have some advice for you.
In recent years, the average life expectancy in Japan has been steadily increasing, and as healthcare continues to improve, the number of citizens living to 100 years and beyond has grown enormously. This year, there are over 86,000 people 100 years or older in Japan, and the average life expectancy for women is reaching closer and closer to 90 (it’s almost 88 now, and for men it’s almost 82). At the same time, the average “healthy” life expectancy is about a decade less than that, leaving plenty to be desired at an old age. So, as part of their “Enjoy Walking Till 100 Years and Beyond” project, health-focused food manufacturer Q’SAI has been surveying 100 of Japan’s residents 100 and over every year since 2016, to find out what the secrets are to a healthy and happy old age. After a century of experience, this is what their survey responses have to tell us.
① Eat your vegetables!
It turns out, well, none of this advice is really going to shock you. When it comes to staying happy and healthy for many years to come, it’s important to eat plenty of vegetables, and that was clearly represented when the survey-takers were asked what they tend to eat. When it comes to daily nutrition, these senior citizens eat a lot of rice, vegetables, and dairy products.
② Brush your teeth so they’ll stick around!
Out of all the healthy old folks, over a third of them had at least a few of their own teeth still sticking around, and the majority responded saying that they had a family dentist to take care of their teeth. Why is this all so important? Well, not only can painful teeth be a real frustration, but they also get in the way of enjoying a good meal. You can’t enjoy a good steak or the crunch of a carrot without healthy teeth, or at least a trusty set of dentures.
③ Make your meals count.
Clearly there’s a theme to these answers, but when asked plain and simple what “the secret to long life” was, a majority of survey respondents answered that it had something to do with food! And vegetables weren’t the only important factor, either. Many survey takers also mentioned that it was important to “eat everything, regardless of your tastes” and “eat 3 square meals a day.” There were some less conventional suggestions too, like one 105-year-old man who “enjoys a glass of liquor every night,” or the 103-year-old woman who has been brewing up her own traditional medicinal herbal teas for as long as she can remember.
Of course, there are many secrets to a long life. Aside from food and drink, other common responses included a positive attitude, exercise, staying social, and hobbies.
To finish off the survey, Q’SAI gave participants a chance to add their own unique advice for younger senior citizens – those in their 70s who are now looking to stay happy and healthy for the next 30 years or more. While the main survey answers made it clear that keeping your body healthy with good nutrition is important, this last part of the survey showed that keeping your mind happy and healthy is equally important, as the section was full of advice to take it easy, avoid dwelling on misfortune, and stay positive. As one 101-year-old said, feeling young is important – “never think of yourself as old!” Advice to live by, no matter what your age might be.
Name: Old Age in Japan
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