Shoku-iku – what is the Japanese longevity secret?

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The Japanese are known around the world for their longevity. How do they do it and what is their secret? The basis is undoubtedly their approach to food, or shoku-iku.

In Japan the average life expectancy is as long as 84 years. European countries are far behind. What makes the inhabitants of the Land of the Rising Sun live so long? The key to their success is certainly a balanced, responsible approach to food consumption, or shoku-iku. It’s worth knowing more about it to stay healthy longer

Nutrition education, or shoku-iku

An average American eats fast food several times a week, a Japanese eats it much less often. All this is because the Japanese take a responsible approach to nutrition. As a result, they boast the lowest obesity rate considering highly developed countries. This means that while other countries struggle with problems of overweight, which appears even in a few years old children – in the Land of the Cherry Blossom it is much, much smaller. And all thanks to shoku-iku, or “nutrition education”. This is a special system that involves teaching children how to eat healthily.

Interestingly, the Japanese government even decided to pass a law in 2005, according to which the principles of shoku-iku were introduced into the school curriculum. This is the first law of its kind in Japan to regulate proper nutrition. All in an effort to prevent the worldwide problem of obesity among the youngest. Unsurprisingly, the Western lifestyle includes bad eating habits. That’s why the government in Japan decided to act quickly

With the cooperation of the best nutritionists and experts in the field, they managed to create a pyramid of healthy eating. The basis of this pyramid is proper hydration of the body and physical activity. When it comes to the principles of nutrition, their basis is to eat a variety of foods, listen to the needs of your body and make sure that meals are communal

Don’t overeat

Most of us love to eat to our heart’s content, so that it “feels like it’s going to burst”. This is a mistake. Already Confucius invented years ago to finish a meal when you reach about 80% satiety. And this is also one of the rules of shoku-iku, not to overeat but also not to starve. While in many European countries it is not appropriate to leave something on the plate, in Japan eating everything is even frowned upon. Inhabitants of the Land of the Cherry Blossom pay great attention not only to what they eat, but also how much they eat. As a result, they are able to control their weight while satisfying all of their body’s needs

In this country no one counts calories, what is more, this custom is even contrary to the Japanese worldview. Shoku-iku says that everyone should look deeply into their relationship with food, think about why they don’t eat or overeat. Once this is established – it will be easier to achieve inner harmony and balance

Healthy and local food is key

Japanese authorities are encouraging people to eat healthy and local food as often as possible. It is advisable to replace typical convenience foods with dishes made of fish, vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grain products. According to shoku-iku, cereals should constitute as much as 40-60% of the daily intake. In Poland this ratio is much lower. In Japan people eat a lot of soya, mushrooms, algae and seaweed. There it is also important not to waste anything that is suitable for consumption. As a result, environmental awareness is growing and society generates much less waste than in other highly developed countries

According to shoku-iku, no meal should be skipped, especially breakfast. Nutrition education also says to eat seasonally, when available fruits and vegetables have the most valuable properties and are therefore the healthiest – and more affordable. It is not advisable to eat processed food, which, according to the Japanese, may increase the incidence of heart disease and diabetes, and promote problems with concentration

Another basic rule of shoku-iku is to eat varied and colorful meals

Main photo: brooke lark/

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