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Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, also known as the start of the Great American Pig Out. Beginning tomorrow and continuing through Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and culminating with Superbowl Sunday, we Americans will eat and eat and eat. Most of us will gain weight, hence the New Year’s resolution most often made (and unfortunately, most often broken) to lose weight. Health editor Janice Kerr says we should all Hara Hachi Bu over the next three months and beyond to avoid the need to make that resolution we’ll all break anyway. -- AP

Hara hachi bu is Japanese for “eat until you are eight parts full.” It’s the philosophy of the people who live on the island of Okinawa, where the residents enjoy exceptionally long and healthy lives. Okinawans have the longest life expectancy in the world with 29% living to 100. This is roughly four times the average in western countries.

Hara hachi bu works because your brain needs about twenty minutes to realize that your stomach is full. If you eat until you feel full, twenty minutes later you’ll be about 20% over capacity. Keep this up at every meal, and you’ll continually stretch your stomach larger and larger, which in turn will require you to eat more and more food at each meal in order to feel sated.

Hara hachi bu is the basis for the traditional Okinawa diet, which emphasizes vegetables, whole grains, fruits, soy, and fish. Such a diet, high in antioxidants and with limited amounts of lean meats, has been proven to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and minimize free radical production.

Heart disease rates in Okinawa are 80% lower than in the U.S., and cholesterol levels are typically under 180, Rates of cancer are 50-80% lower. Hip fractures are 20% lower than those on mainland Japan and 40% lower than in the U.S. Dementia is rare. Conversely, Okinawans who adopted Western eating styles had about the same rates of heart disease as in the U.S., and a study of 100,000 Okinawans who moved to Brazil and adopted local eating habits, showed a life expectancy 17 years lower than in Okinawa.

So think about following the two main rules of the Okinawan Diet, beginning tomorrow. Your body will thank you, and you won’t have to make that yearly New Year’s resolution that we both know you won’t keep.

Rule 1. Eat to 80% full.

Rule 2: Eat healthy, non-processed foods as much as possible. making sure your diet is rich in veggies, whole grains, fish, and legumes.

I guess this means turning down a second slice of pumpkin pie tomorrow, readers, but why not give it a try? Who’s game? Post a comment to enter the drawing for a book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP


Zyme Prime said...

Interesting facts.

Liz said...

Interesting but to apply, how does one gauge 80% full?

Happy Thanksgivihg.


Liz, I think the trick here is to stop eating before you feel full.

Janel said...

I have heard of the 80% rule before. After seeing the health benefits it's definitely something to think about!

traveler said...

Smart. I have read about the people from Okinawa, and their longevity. Also people from Sardinia. Yes, eat enough to feel comfortable and no more.

Jane R said...

I keep trying to stop eating before I feel full. When I remember to do that, it really does work. It's true it takes the brain awhile to catch up.