10 Reasons Why The Culture Of Japanese People Are Significantly Thinner and Have Lower Rates of Cancer, Diabetes, and Heart Disease

The Secrets Behind Japan’s Health and Longevity: A Journey Through Diet and Lifestyle

Matcha, the vibrant green tea powder that has gained international fame, originates from Japan—a country renowned for its long, healthy lives. Known for a culture that embraces lots of walking and a diet rich in high-quality produce and fish, Japan stands as a paragon of health and well-being. We spent three weeks traveling across Japan, delving into what makes the Japanese some of the healthiest people in the world. If you venture beyond the major cities, you will uncover aspects of Japanese life that are not always apparent in urban centers.

Here is a closer look at what we observed during our trip to Japan:

Food & Diet

1. “Hara Hachi Bun Me”

One of the most fascinating aspects of Japanese dining culture is the principle of “hara hachi bun me,” which translates to “eat until you are 80% full.” This concept encourages moderation and helps prevent overeating and overindulgence. By stopping when they are not completely full, the Japanese maintain a balanced approach to eating that contributes significantly to their overall health.

2. Fresh and Unprocessed Foods

The Japanese diet is characterized by fresh and unprocessed foods that are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. There is a strong focus on whole foods, with meals typically featuring a variety of vegetables, grains, and seafood. This diet is low in saturated fats and high in nutrients, contributing to lower rates of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.

3. Fermented Foods

Fermented foods like miso and natto (a fermented soybean dish that became one of our favorites) play a crucial role in Japanese cuisine. These foods are beneficial for gut health, which is increasingly recognized as important for overall well-being. The probiotics found in fermented foods support a healthy digestive system and can improve immune function.

4. Limited Red Meat and Dairy Consumption

Japanese people consume less red meat and dairy compared to Western diets. This lower intake of animal fats is linked to better health outcomes, including reduced risks of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Instead, the Japanese diet emphasizes fish, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for heart health. Keep in mind that there is a wide range of quality when it comes to meat. This plays a role in your health as well. You want organic, grass-fed, pasture raised meat.

5. Mindful Eating Practices

Meals in Japan are often served in small portions, encouraging a more mindful eating experience. The Japanese approach to food involves flexible restraint—enjoying life and the pleasures of eating without overindulging. This mindful approach helps individuals maintain a healthy weight and appreciate the quality of their food.


1. Physical Activity as a Cultural Norm

In Japan, physical activity is deeply ingrained in the culture. Walking and biking are common modes of transportation, making regular exercise a natural part of daily life. This habitual movement helps maintain physical fitness and contributes to the low obesity rates observed in the country.

2. Active Aging

The emphasis on physical activity extends to older communities, allowing the aging population to stay active well into their retirement years. Elderly Japanese people are often seen participating in group exercises and community activities, which helps them stay physically and socially engaged, promoting longevity and a higher quality of life.

3. Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness exercises are commonly practiced in Japan to reduce stress. These practices encourage individuals to focus on the present moment, fostering a sense of peace and well-being. The Japanese approach to stress management through mindfulness is a key factor in their mental and physical health.

4. The Culture of Tea

Japanese tea culture is not just about drinking tea; it is a disciplined practice that emphasizes mindfulness and inner peace. The traditional tea ceremony, with its deliberate and meditative movements, helps people cultivate a calm and focused mind. This practice of mindfulness through tea is reflective of a broader cultural appreciation for tranquility and discipline.

5. Healing Hot Springs

Another integral aspect of Japanese wellness is the tradition of visiting hot springs, known as “onsen.” These natural geothermal baths are not only a source of relaxation but are also believed to have therapeutic benefits. The minerals found in hot spring water can help alleviate various ailments, improve circulation, and reduce stress. Regular visits to onsen are a cherished ritual for many Japanese people, promoting both physical and mental health.


Our journey through Japan revealed a society that prioritizes health through a balanced diet and active lifestyle. The principles of mindful eating, consumption of fresh and unprocessed foods, and regular physical activity are deeply embedded in Japanese culture. These practices, along with a focus on mental well-being through mindfulness and meditation, contribute to the remarkable health and longevity of the Japanese people.

If you ever have the chance to visit Japan, especially outside the major cities, you will witness firsthand the healthy habits that are a natural part of everyday life. The Japanese approach to diet and lifestyle offers valuable lessons for anyone looking to improve their health and well-being. By adopting some of these practices, we too can enjoy a healthier, more balanced life.

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