Your Plan for Your 97th Birthday – Part 2

Blog - Healthy Longevity 2

What do you plan for your 97th birthday?

In my last blog, I evoked the joyful, energetic way of celebrating a 97th birthday in Okinawa, where longevity is the highest and the perception of ageing, health and happiness fits in one word = vitality.

As our busy society has forgotten simple physiological, mental and cultural behaviors that promote healthy happy longevity, I continue here to share with you simple habits you can set up right now so you dance, laugh and shine on your 97th birthday.

Hara Hachi Bu

Overeating was never a concern in traditional culture as people were producing or sourcing all of their food.  Availability of food always fluctuated, from scarcity to abundance. Nowadays, food has become a convenience and excess an habit.

On our way to convenience, the nourishing power of food has been lost. As we are eating unconsciously, we lose track of the our core needs. The abundance and permanence in food availability let us overfed and under nourished. And “there is a significant calorie gap between when an American says, ‘I’m full’ and an Okinawan says, ‘I’m no longer hungry.’[i]

One forgotten principle, applied traditionally in all cultures, is the daily practice called “Hara Hachi Bu” in Okiwana, an adage inspired by Confucius that means to “EAT ONLY UNTIL 80% FULL”.

This cultural practice of calorie restriction and mindful eating is part of the reason Okinawa has a high percentage of healthy centenarians. When your stomach is not entirely full, your body consumes less energy to digest, your vitality improves and you break down your food more efficiently.

Calorie restriction and intermittent fasting are now rediscovered for their physiological benefits : they both have been shown to improve metabolic parameters, and with it, long-term health and wellness for happy longevity.

Additionally, food is not just about calories, it is information. Understanding the quality of food matters. Nourishment and mindful eating is about being in touch with our environment. All traditional diet are pretty balanced diet because they are based on fresh, unprocessed products, mainly plant-based. By eating food that have been picked before it’s ripe and shipped around, we lose the connection to our environment, our natural circadian rhythms and our soil.

[i] Dr. Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating

Vitality = Fulfilling Eating

The best ways to get from (over) fed to nourished is to connect to our internal and external environment.

  • Start every meal with “Hara Hachi Bu” in mind. Breathe deeply before eating so you’re not only preparing your body for digestion, you also tune into your brain to assess your real need.
  • Eat mindfully: take the time to chew your food and focus solely on eating. Multitasking is absolutely counterproductive, not conducive of optimum digestion and leads to overeating.
  • Know your farmers. Don’t feel disempowered by this idea if you are living in the middle of a big city. There is many little things you can manage from your unit!
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