Hara Hachi Bu: The reason why the Japanese live a 100 years or more

Ancient wisdom in Japan dictates that one should never eat to fill one’s belly 100%. Eat up till you’re 80% full.

The residents of Okinawa Island in Japan have the longest life expectancy in the world. They live up to 100 years. Various studies have been done over the years to decode the secret to their long, healthy lives. Researchers have finally figured out their secret. For centuries, the Okinawans have been following the principle of ‘Hara Hachi Bu’. In English; it means filling up your belly up to 80% only. By practicing ‘Hara Hachi Bu’, the Okinawans are able to achieve longevity. Nutritionists Kavita Devgan and Tripti Tandon tell us how one can follow this principle.

A century old secret

The average life expectancy in Okinawa is 100 years . (Getty Images)

Ancient wisdom in Japan dictates that one should never eat to fill one’s belly 100%. Eat up till you’re 80% full. Overeating or being full means that your digestive process takes a long time to process the food. This accelerates cellular oxidation, which in turn ages you faster. Okinawans never eat to feel full. They eat only what’s required. Recent studies have revealed that they consume a daily average of 1,800 to 1,900 calories, compared to 2,200 to 3,300 in United States, the highest in the world. Their body mass index is between 18-22, compared to 26 -27 in US.

Science behind it

When your stomach is not entirely full, it has extra space. This allows the stomach to perform the digestion process quicker. Also, the stomach churns and breaks down food efficiently. However, if you eat to fill your stomach 100%, then it gets stretched. It requires more food to feel full. This can cause health problems

Following ‘Hara Hachi Bu’ has various health benefits. Your waistline never expands and you have a strong digestive system. It also helps avoid obesity, acid reflux, gastrointestinal problems and metabolic disorders. Okinawans, who have been following this principle for centuries, have the lowest levels of free radicals in their blood. Low level of radicals in your blood means lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer and other old age related diseases.

How to follow Hara Hachi Bu

The Okinawan diet is rich in tofu, sweet potatoes and fish . (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

1)Resetting your muscle memory – You need to reset your stomach’s muscle memory in order to get used to smaller meals. It takes 15-20 meals for your stomach to get used to eating less.

2)Avoid getting over hungry– Eating consciously does not mean you starve yourself for long periods. If you get over hungry, then you will definitely over eat and make poor food choices.

3)Eat slowly– Eating slowly will make sure you feel satisfied and satiated. Avoid gulping down, as it can cause indigestion and make you feel hungry despite eating.

4)Don’t skip veggies and salads– Consume carbohydrates and protein and balance them out with green vegetable and salads. You need antioxidants to keep you young, and vegetables and salads are an excellent source of it.

5)Opt for small plates – By presenting meals on various small plates, you can trick your stomach into feeling full. When you consume meals on various small plates, rather than one big meal, you feel as if you are going to eat up a lot.




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