Why Do The Japanese Live Longer?


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The oldest lady in the world today who has proof of her age is Misao Okawa who was born 5th March 1898. She is 116. There is a lady in Mexico who says that she is 117 but the records of when she was born are unclear. However, from the point of view of country statistics, there is no doubt that Japan holds all the age records, but what I have to ask is how do they achieve this remarkable statistic?

Of course ia long life is not always an easy life. A recent report published by Allianz (the insurer) states that the elderly in Japan are in such financial straits that they are turning to crime. A bit like a friend who lived nearby myself when I was younger, he found a way to put a brick through a shop window and achieve in the process a few days in prison over the Christmas period where he found it much more comfortable than living on the streets. I am not for one minute suggesting that we take up crime and end in prison, but in doing so, in many countries you qualify for free health-care and dental treatment, free board and lodge, decent food on a regular basis and a sheltered bed at night, while of course the fact that you don’t pay any income tax can be tempting when you have reached rock bottom.

Japan has endured decades of ultra-low interest rates and having a rapidly ageing population (around 54,000 over 100 years of age), is often held up as the harbinger of what is in store for us here in the UK. Although the elderly are the fastest growing segment in Britain we are still a long way behind Japan in the ageing process because we have higher reproduction rates and more immigration than Japan. Only 2 percent of Japan’s population is from immigration.

However, given that I myself am not in the first-flush of youth and will sooner or later become one of the ageing statistics I have been looking at some of the reasons why the Japanese (despite all of their financial difficulties) live longer than we do – and it has made me think about how the older population here in the UK can improve their lives and live longer and happier.

Adipokine – It’s Properties

My studies have revealed that Japanese people have higher levels of the adipokine known as adiponectin. It enhances your muscle’s ability to use carbohydrates for energy, boosts your metabolism, increase the rate in which your body breaks down fat, and curbs your appetite. The leaner your body is, the more adiponectin your fat cells will release.

Adiponectin is a protein hormone produced and secreted exclusively by adipocytes (fat cells) that regulates the metabolism of lipids and glucose. It influences the body’s response to insulin. It also has anti-inflammatory effects on the cells lining the walls of blood vessels.

High blood levels of adiponectin are associated with a reduced risk of heart attack. Low levels of adiponectin are found in people who are obese (and who are at increased risk of a heart attack). Source: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=17982

You can maximise your adiponectin levels by moving more during the day (getting leaner) and replacing carbohydrates in your diet with monounsaturated fats (olives, avocados, etc). This helps prevent diabetes and hardening of the arteries – that in turn helps us avoid becoming frail. Nutrition and exercise are crucial in this.
So, how do we avoid the pitfalls that have beset the Japanese?

Is 65 Young?

It is my opinion that at the age of 65 we are still relatively young. I am fortunate that my dad who died a couple of years ago lived till he was 97. My mum who passed away just a couple of months ago was 94. So in a way I have long-life genes in me. Nevertheless, it is my opinion that every one of us has the ability to alter how long we live. Of course it’s great to have high levels of adiponectin protecting us, but it’s also important to eat nutritious food and to exercise, but I think that the most important thing to have inside you is attitude.

I have no intention of retiring. I am fortunate that I am self-employed which can be stressful at times but I love what I do. Despite the fact that I am of pensionable age, I still have ambition. I look at some people I knew who were members of my golf club who worked in high-level Government and teaching positions and who had retired with what I would consider generous pensions – yet it was their intention to take it easy and sadly they have both passed on. They didn’t get the three-score years and ten that many crave, never mind the 116 years of Mrs Okawa.

Inner Drive

There may be some inner drive in the human body that relishes challenges and thrives on attaining goals and maybe this attitude unlocks potential in the body to continually push on and keep driving forward and this may apply to even the smallest goals. A new hobby or interest can provide the spark to keep new challenges ahead.
At my companies Moss-Grove and Skinlikes, I have the desire to make these enterprises become the producers of some of the best and healthiest skin-care and health-care products to be found. We both produce some highly effective health & beauty products in order to make the planet a more natural and eco friendly environment to live in.

I developed and cannot recommend highly enough our Joint Ease Lotion  that helps my arthritic spine. I apply Joint Ease along the length of it every morning and some Muscle Ease across the base of my back, the cheeks of my bottom (gluteal muscles) and the tops of the backs of my legs (hamstrings) and I do the same again before I go to bed. In doing so, this keeps me healthy and allows me to partake in my daily exercise – where simply going for a brisk walk is my favourite. These walks could be key in producing more adiponectin to help me live longer.

If we accept that 65 is young, that we have with a bit of luck and effort, many years ahead of us – and being as we are young we can still keep active both in body, spirit and mind and set our own goals to make the world a better place and to ensure we can spend the maximum amount of time that we can enjoying this planet.

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