5 Habits of the Japanese People to Be in Shape Without Dieting

    The culture of that Far East country is characterized by healthy routines that help them maintain good physical condition

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    Possessors of a wise and healthy culture, the Japanese stand out, among other societies, for their optimal health. The unknown that is generated is… How do they manage to be like this? Is it just a matter of genetics or acquired habits?

    In addition to having healthy routines, a characteristic of the physiognomy of the people of the country of the Rising Sun is that most of them keep a slim figure. Even, according to data from the Ministry of Health and Nutrition of Japan, it is one of the countries in the world with the lowest rate of obesity, with only 3.5% compared to other countries such as Germany, France and Italy, which have between 21% and 22%; the United Kingdom, 26%; and the United States, 33.6%.

    However, it is important to note that the traditions and culture of the Japanese country, as well as the laws passed to combat overweight, have greatly helped its citizens to maintain a good physical condition. It was in 2005 when the ShukuIku law came into force, aimed at the education of children, which aims to create a social culture around food.

    This law focuses on diet, the daily diet of Japanese children and their education: schools are required to offer healthy menus for school-age children. These values are instilled from a young age and in this way they reach adulthood with a greater awareness of what is healthy for the body.

    “Okinawa –a Japanese prefecture encompassing more than 150 islands in Japan’s maritime zone– is a clear example. It is considered a blue zone – one of the places in the world where people over 100 years of age live – due to the longevity and excellent cognitive and health conditions of its inhabitants. It has a particular climate, natural resources and a different mentality that recognizes the importance of nutrition, as well as its impact on health”, highlights Mariana PatrónFarías, a nutritionist and director of Nutrition Programs for Companies (Nutrim), a specialized consultant in healthy eating programs.

    For the specialist, the reasons for this phenomenon are due to multi-causal factors. In this regard, the customs of the Japanese are very varied and include everything from eating habits to different types of physical exercises and hot baths; among them are:

    1. Mindful eating

    You have to see the Japanese in their social, biological, ecological and cultural environment because we are all integral beings and that must be the right look to understand how they stay that way. The Japanese eat easily digestible foods. They do not usually eat too many industrialized or chemical products. They give priority to natural and even raw foods during the summer months. Among the most popular are rice, fish, shellfish, vegetables and vegetables, as well as hot infusions.

    From birth, the Japanese follow healthy eating routines characterized by being low in calories and low in fat. Plants and herbs of traditional medicine also prevail, such as turmeric, and give a leading role to foods of plant origin.

    Ultra-processed, refined sugars or trans fats have no place in your diet. “If we compare with our Western choices, where bovine meat and animal fat predominate (cheese, butter, cream, pastry, etc.) and where there is an increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods with added sugar and extra salt and all kinds of additives…Of course, the Japanese have more nutrients from their diet, and that contributes to the preservation of health and well-being for a longer number of years”, explains PatrónFarías.

    2. Hara Hachi Bu Method

    Hara hachibu is a Confucian teaching that instructs people to eat until they are 80% full. In this way, they feel satisfied and do not need to binge as happens in other countries where culturally they eat until “they cannot take it anymore”.

    “I believe that more than a form of diet it is about frugality and the respect that we Japanese have towards food to eat what is necessary and the consideration that we have with others so as not to fill ourselves up when others may be having a bad time”, explains Mónica Hashimoto, graduate in journalism and communications and former editor of a magazine for the dissemination of Japanese culture in Argentina called Alternativa Nikkei.

    3. They do not go to the gym as Westerners do

    The Japanese are not used to carrying out extreme training routines as is more common in the West. They practice moderate or low-intensity physical activities such as daily walking, yoga, or stretching.

    However, Hashimoto points out, physical exercise is instilled in them from a young age with sports competitions called “undokai” and “taiso”–gentle and relaxed exercises that seek greater range of motion. These are held every morning in schools and workplaces. “They also use the bicycle a lot for transportation, particularly by mothers to go shopping or to take their children to school. In general, they are not fans of gyms”, adds Hashimoto.

    4. Macrobiotics

    George Ohsawa, a Japanese philosopher, created macrobiotics –a philosophy of life based on diet, exercise, meditation, and the energy of yin and yang. It is based on eating, living in harmony, and seeking the balance of the body.

    To comply with this, the food that is consumed is preferably with organic and seasonal products. It is divided into whole grains, such as rice, oats, barley, buckwheat or quinoa (between 40% and 60%); fruits and vegetables (between 20% and 30%); and animal products and derivatives (between 10% and 25%).

    5. Hot baths

    This activity helps the body burn calories and increases the metabolic rate, according to a study published in 2017. “They are called ‘furo’ and it is the most common way to clean oneself in Japan. It is not done for a specific purpose. But it provides the benefits that are known, from relaxation, skin hydration, and detoxification”, explains Hashimoto.

    Returning to eating, he comments: “It has a lot to do with genetic inheritance and the standard of living that allows us to eat healthily. This way you can enjoy the benefits of seasonal foods and dishes that are more nutritious”.

    Resonance Costa Rica
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