Could the Japanese diet hold the secret to longevity? In a new study, a team of researchers set out on a 15-year quest to figure out why the Japanese people outlived people from other nations.
The mortality rate in Japan is pretty impressive. According to the World Health Organization, globally, Japan leads in the category of overall life expectancy at 84. Female life expectancy is at 87, which tops the chart and for the male it is at 80. In 2015, the average life expectancy reached 83.3 years old.
In 2005, the Japanese government developed a guide titled "The Japanese Food Guide Spinning Top," which is based on the traditional Japanese diet. This was aimed at instilling healthy eating habits into the daily routines of its citizens.
The food guide, designed as an upturned pyramid or "spinning top," primarily promotes grain-based dishes, such as those containing rice, noodles and bread. These dishes are followed by the vegetables and then fish and meat. Dairy products and fruits found its place at the bottom of the diagram. Furthermore, intake of tea and water is greatly encouraged.
For the study, the dietary habits of more than 79,500 people in the 45-75 age group were taken into account. Their habits were tracked for around 15 years as part of this in-depth research.
The survey respondents filled up a questionnaire at the start of the study and again after five, then 10 years. The questionnaires gauged the participants' adherence to the government's dietary guidelines.
None of the participants had any history of health problems, such as heart conditions, stroke, liver disease or cancer.
The findings of the study that was published in The BMJ revealed that those citizens who adhered to the guidelines closely had a lower mortality rate by 15 percent compared to those who did not.
The team of researchers was led by Kayo Kurotani of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo.
The authors emphasized in their study that a balanced diet including grains, meat, vegetables, fish, fruits, dairy and soy products as well as alcoholic beverages contributes to longevity and lowers the mortality rate.