When it comes to health, weight of courseis not everything, but since there are so many health complications from being overweightor obese, it’s safe to say that Japan with an obesity rate of 3.
5% is generally healthierthan America with an obesity rate of 30%.
Japan isn’t perfect, it has found itselfon the 2012 top 50 list for cancer rates, but it comes in near the bottom of the listat rank #48 while America is at rank #6.
I’m contrasting Japan with America simplybecause these are the two countries I’ve lived in.
Last time, I argued that convenient accessto reasonably healthy food in Japan helps people stay thin.
But what else contributes to health? In my last video, a lot of comments pointedout that in Tokyo you end up walking everywhere, which is true and should help people staylean.
Also, walking while eating is generally frownedupon, so more walking means less snacking.
Public transportation is impressively convenientand reliable – if you’re traveling around Tokyo, your destination is almost always within a20 minute walk from that area’s train, subway or bus station.
However, this is just Tokyo.
Such a population dense part of Japan withhighly organized public transportation unsurprisingly has the lowest rate of car ownership in Japan.
What’s interesting is that average bodymass index doesn’t change too drastically prefecture to prefecture, and higher car ownershipdoesn’t particularly correlate to higher body mass index.
That said, more walking surely helps peoplestay leaner and healthier, but it’s just one piece of a bigger puzzle.
Next, the portion sizes in Japan are definitelysmaller.
Here’s what some typical lunches look like.
When I first came to live in Japan in 2010, I remember always being a little disappointed with the size of the meals.
Of course bigger portions and even all youcan eat places are available, but Since food is more expensive here, I had to just getused to eating less food.
In 2014, people spent on average about 13.
5%of their income on food, which is more than twice what people in America spent.
In 2013, 3682 calories were consumed per personper day in America, but it was only 2726 calories per day in Japan.
So Japanese people typically spend more moneyfor less calories.
Although, cheap calories from the sugar insoda is probably a factor here as Americans consumed more than 5 times the amount of sodaJapan did in 2011.
Next, the type of food being eaten over hereis of course different.
You may have noticed in the clips I just showedthat everything comes with rice.
The Japanese diet is by no means low carb, but while Japan and America eat about the same amount of the two grains Wheat and Ricecombined, Japan eats about half as much wheat as America.
Cutting out wheat or gluten is usually suspectedto be only a fad, but gluten, found in wheat and not rice, has been shown to have someunique properties.
This 2012 Brazilian rodent study for example, found that putting just 4.
5% wheat gluten in the diet increases body fat, inflammation, and insulin resistance.
Work by Dr.
Alessio Fasano and his team hasshown that the gliadin protein of gluten, through the stimulation of a protein calledZonulin, opens up the spaces between the epithelial cells in your gut.
This allows gliadin fragments to leak throughthe gut into the bloodstream, provoking an immune response and inflammation.
However, since the reaction to gluten differsperson to person and the science is relatively new and complex, it’s hard to say by whatdegree wheat is worse than rice or how much wheat is too much.
Next is the regular consumption of fermentedfoods in Japan.
Élie Metchnikoff, winner of the 1908 NobelPrize in Medicine, was the first to propose the theory that lactic acid bacteria are beneficialto human health.
He suggested that “oral administration ofcultures of fermentative bacteria would implant the beneficial bacteria in the intestinaltract.
” As research on the gut microbiome develops, the health effects of certain gut microbes and bacteria are becoming clearer.
A transplant of the microbes from one overweightwoman to another woman caused the receiving woman to become obese, and it’s been foundthat transplanting microbes from a confident mouse to an anxious mouse will make that anxiousmouse more confident.
It’s estimated that there are 500 to 1000species of bacteria just in your gut, and it’s important to take care of the rightspecies of these bacteria.
There’s even research showing that certainmicrobes produce certain neurotransmitters.
And, fermented foods are supposed to supportthe microbes that we do want to have.
Plenty of fermented foods have been part ofthe Japanese diet for a very long time.
There’s Natto, soy sauce, miso, fermentedfish and tsukemono which is pickled vegetables.
Kimuchi, a fermented food traditionally fromKorea, is also widely available in Japan.
Fermented foods like these are very easy tofind at the supermarket, and it’s common to get a side of Japanese pickles with yourmeal.
The next point is balanced meat consumption.
In 2017, total meat consumption in the U.
per capita was 98.
4 kg where 51.
4kg of meat per capita were consumed in Japan.
American people per capita ate only 7 kilogramsof seafood in 2015, while Japanese people ate 27.
3 kilograms of fish and fish productsin 2014.
If the meat everyone was eating was antibioticfree grass fed meat, high meat consumption might not be a bad thing, but in any casewe can agree that a higher fish intake is generally good for you.
And I don’t think it would surprise youto hear that it’s really easy to get fish wherever you are in Japan.
But there’s another kind of balance thatmight be a factor – it’s the muscle meat to organ meat ratio.
Organ meats have not usually been much ofa component of the American diet.
During World War 2, people were encouragedto eat organ meats as part of the food rationing effort.
Articles like this one in this 1943 issueof Time Magazine sold organ meats as highly nutritious and explained how to cook them.
The effort had some success in changing people’sviews on organ meats, but the effect, didn’t last much longer than the war itself.
This is unfortunate because, as the time magazineissue shows, organ meats are rich in certain vitamins that muscle meat is not.
And, glycine, an amino acid found in skin, cartilage and connective tissue has several important health benefits- from being an anti-inflammatoryto improving skin elasticity, improving insulin response, and it has been shown to ameliorateoxidative stress and lower blood pressure.
This study found that you could get a 30%increase in lifespan in rodents by restricting methionine, an amino acid found in musclemeat, or you could get a 30% increase in lifespan by supplementing glycine.
Glycine supplementation also reduced fastingblood sugar, fasting insulin and even triglycerides.
So it looks like the potential negative effectsfrom eating too much muscle meat can be counteracted by simply consuming more of things like skin, cartilage, connective tissue, and bone broth.
Now in America you can surely find organ meatsat some supermarkets, but in my 20 years in America, organ meats were rarely on the menu, though chicken skin is easy enough to find.
Over in Japan, organ meats aren’t eatenevery day of course, but they are more common.
You can find them at the supermarket, or atBarbeque places and HorumonYaki places specialize in organ meats, you can also get them on skewers at Yakitori places.
Pork is a big part of Okinawan cuisine andthey don’t waste much of the animal Another thing is green tea consumption.
Green tea has been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer effects as well as blood sugar lowering effects thanks tothe catechins in it.
Though, I’m betting green tea being healthyisn’t new information to you.
Back when I lived in the states, the reasondrinking it didn’t become a habit was that it was simply annoying to have to buy it atthe supermarket and then come home and make it.
Here, pretty much any restaurant serves it, sometimes for free, and you can always buy it from one of the many many vending machinesprevalent throughout the country.
What might be an even bigger benefit fromregularly drinking green tea and other teas is that it keeps people from drinking sugarysodas.
Here, I rarely see people here drinking sodawith their meal, but I see people drinking tea all the time.
One last point is the food being served toyoung children.
In Japan, school meals are planned out bya nutritionist, cooked mostly from scratch from local ingredients, then served in theclassroom by the students and eating manners are taught by the teacher.
The only drink allowed is milk, so studentscan’t be drinking juice or other sweet drinks.
The meals aren’t always perfect, but they’rea lot better than what I remember getting from the cafeteria in grade school in thestates.
There’s plenty more things about Japan Ihaven’t mentioned here, some that I even expect would be bigger determinants of healthlike consumption of Processed Foods, Sugar and processed corn, seed and soy oils.
In short, it seems that people in Japan eata lot more food rather than food like products.
Japan’s food culture has contributed a lotto health over here, and I expect a lot more could be learned from looking at other countries’food environments.
This video was sponsored by Audible.
whichis something I use almost every day.
I've gotten a lot comments before asking aboutmy research process.
And, honestly most of it is just reading allthe time and taking notes.
Most of my reading is actually listening tonon-fiction books on Audible.
I usually set the playback speed to twiceas fast and when I come across a bit that sounds important, I use the bookmark functionto leave a note so I can come back to that point later.
Of course Audible isn't just for non-fiction, they have an unmatched selection of all kinds of audiobooks, original audio shows, news, comedy, and more.
I particularly enjoyed the book “Missing Microbes”by Dr.
The book really came in handy while workingon my last video on the Microbiome, and it was just a really interesting and enjoyablelisten about the repercussions of using antibiotics too much.
If you'd like to check it out, go to www.
com/whativelearned or text ‘whativelearned’to 500-500 to get an exclusive 30 day free trial and one free book.