If you’ve travelled to Japan or met Japanese people, one thing might have crossed your mind: “Why are Japanese women so slim and look so young?” Their lifestyle goes a long way in keeping them in shape. In Japan, food is not solely eaten for taste. Japanese people believe in extracting health benefits from their food.
Here are the top 6 reasons they stay slim and don’t look old.
1. Drinking Green Tea
Japanese people love to drink green tea.
The matcha (powdered green tea) is made from the highest quality leaves, which are dried and milled into a fine powder. This powder is then mixed with hot water. This form of green tea is used in the tea ceremony, which is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha.
Green tea is not only delicious but also very beneficial. It is one of the healthiest teas in the world, rich in antioxidants that help fight free radicals and delay the aging process. It even aids weight loss.
Drinking green tea also reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer.
According to a 2006 study published in JAMA, adults in Japan who consumed higher amounts of green tea had a lower risk of death due to all causes and due to cardiovascular disease. The study also says that Japanese citizens who drank 5 cups of green tea per day had 26 percent lower mortality rates.
2. Consuming Fermented Foods
Japanese people often eat fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and kimchi.
Fermented foods are those that have been through a process of lacto fermentation. In this process, natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food and create lactic acid. Fermentation preserves the natural nutrients in food and creates beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and various strains of probiotics.
As fermentation promotes friendly intestinal bacteria and breaks down food to a more digestible form, it aids digestion, which in turn helps with weight loss, too. In addition, it helps expel harmful toxins and heavy metals from cell tissue.
3. Popularity of Seafood
Unlike Americans, Japanese people like to eat seafood rather than red meat, which is associated with many health problems, such as obesity, high cholesterol and inflammatory diseases.
Rice or noodles accompanied by different types of seafood are common meals in Japan. As Japan is surrounded by sea, fish and shellfish like tuna, salmon, mackerel and shrimp are extremely popular in Japanese cuisine.
Fish is good for you due to its high-quality proteins, various essential nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids, which are excellent for the brain, heart and organs.
Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are helpful in reducing body fat, especially abdominal fat. Plus, seafood also reduces inflammation in the body and benefits the nervous system.
The Japanese also believe that the healthier the fish you eat, the better it is for you. This is why they serve fish in many different ways, such as raw, poached, grilled, fried, baked or steamed.
4. Eating Smaller Portions
Serving small portions is part of Japan’s culture.
Smaller portion sizes can make you eat less, thereby helping you lose weight. Portions also look larger on smaller plates, which contribute to less eating. This in turn prevents unintentional overeating and high calorie intake.
When it comes to weight management, the smaller portions is probably more important than the type of food you eat.
Some of the basic foundations of Japanese home-cooked food presentation include:
- Do not completely fill up the plates.
- Do not serve a big portion of any item.
- Fresh is best.
- Foods should be garnished and each item on the menu should be arranged properly to showcase its natural beauty.
5. Walking is a Ritual
In Japan, both men and women walk a lot. Walking is a good form of exercise to remain slim and fit.
Walking not only helps with weight loss, it also improves cardiovascular health, boosts energy and mood, and helps relieve stress.
Japan’s population is heavily concentrated in cities, and many people commute by train and subways. This means they need to walk or bicycle to the station and back.
Even children walk a good part of the way to school, instead of being dropped off by their parents.
Apart from walking, use of bicycles is also popular. Many people ride bicycles everywhere, which is another good form of exercise.
6. Eating on the Go is a Big No-No
Meal times in Japan are sacred periods of energizing your body hence there are no walking lunches. It is considered impolite although acceptable in Japan to eat while you are on the go. Which is why, you will rarely see anyone eat on the street or while riding a public transport.
In Japan, you do not do anything else while eating. No TV, no work. Cleanliness and presentation of food, too, form an essential part of Japanese food eating.
They also eat slower, giving their stomach time to process food and signal the brain that it is full. Chopsticks actually play a role of hindering the amount and speed at which people eat food food.
Slower eating means your stomach has time to tell you ‘enough’, compared to the speedy binge eating of Americans where it’s already too late by the time your stomach signals your brain that it is full, resulting in overeating