1. Hara Hachi Bu
“Hara Hachi Bu” translates literally into “80 per cent full”.
Self-explanatory. They don’t stuff themselves silly, but instead, eat in moderation.
Want to still feel satisfied? The trick, they share is to eat foods with fewer calories per bites to trick yourself into feeling fuller on fewer calories.
2. Eat As Low Down The Food Chain As Possible
The Okinawan diet is very rich in vegetables.
It’s a prefecture known for its umibudo (sea grapes), which is rich in minerals and all that good stuff.
It’s also affectionately termed, “green caviar”, and for good reason: eaten as a garnish for sashimi, as topping on rice, or simply a snack, the addictive bubbles of goodness break on your tongue to ooze a slightly briny freshness of the sea.
Their diet that focuses on foods low in the food chain means Okinawans have a very low risk of hormone-dependent cancers.
For instance, there are 80 per cent fewer incidences of breast and prostate cancer in Okinawa than in America.
3. Keep Your Sugar Levels In Check
Goya, bitter cucumbers are another one of Okinawa’s famous indigenous vegetables.
Okinawans sweeten their health with this excellant source of vitamin C and health-benefiting flavanoids.
Most notably, it contains rich amounts of polypeptide-P, a plant insulin known to lower blood sugar levels, some scientists even go so far as to say it’s an effective “anti-diabetic”.
4. Fatty Foods Are Okay, As Long As They're Prepared Well
Okinawans eat a lot of vegetables, but that’s not to say they steer away from meat.
Okinawans not only eat pork, but they love it.
But wait — isn’t pork high in saturated fat? Here’s the golden tip: Typically prepared stewed or braised, the pork is cooked for days to skim off the fat.
What’s left: An indulgence that’s surprisingly healthy, rich in high-protein collagen.
Plus, severe food restrictions aren’t a thing in Okinawa — or Japan, for that matter. Treats are entertained and encouraged in right amounts and frequency.
Even if there aren’t benefits for their physical health, it certainly does good for their equally important mental health.
Okinawan elders are surprisingly fit.
But not because they go to the gym daily, but because activities that keep them fit are woven into their daily regimen.
They do meditation exercises largely for spirituality; they keep actively grooming their backyard gardens where they grow their own vegetables, and the sea-locked prefecture’s a great place to take walks with their partner.
This is the case throughout Japan, and it’s a habit cultivated into the Japanese lifestyle from a young age.
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 98 per cent of Japanese children walk or bike to school each morning.
6. Switch Up Your Diet
The globalization of food sources means you get whatever you want, whenever you want.
When something’s off-season in Australia, get the Europe-imported ones instead.
In Okinawa, however, people traditionally eat more locally grown foods, which means their diet constantly changes according to what’s in season — and what’s in season is fresher, more well-grown and riper.
Some doctors credit their resistance to old-age illnesses to the constant change-up and eating only the best.
Mental health is as important as physiological health. Ikigai, a value that Okinawans hold dearly, means “that which makes one’s life worth living”.
Okinawans — the elderly included — often express a high satisfaction in their lives.
They wake up with a purpose and with the knowledge that they’re important and valued.
And, even at such ripe old ages, the community remains social, inclusive and active.
This long-standing Okinawan tradition is known as moai — a gathering of people — that lends mutual emotional support and care.
8. Keep Your Bones Healthy
Because this southernmost prefecture is closer to the Equator than, say, the rest of Japan, the sub-topical Okinawa enjoys more pleasant summers and milder winters.
Which makes it all the better to get out there more. Hence, Okinawans tend to enjoy more exposure to vitamin D, which does good for your bones.
Studies have shown that the bone density of Okinawan centenarians decreases at a slower rate than other Japanese people, and they suffer much fewer fractures.
And the last time we checked, there’s more than enough vitamin D to go around in sunny Singapore.
Text: Pinky Chng/The Finder Additional Reporting: Hidayah Idris/CLEO and Atika Lim