Is it really that difficult or complicated to live at least 100 years old on this planet? Would you want to live that long, considering the proliferation of diseases afflicting us these days, not to mention the other problems of civilization, namely higher levels of pollution in the environment and work-related stress?

Just ask the 100-year-old Japanese people living on the island of Okinawa, of which there are 457 of them as of 2012! They will tell you that a long life is a happy life! There are other places in the world famously known because of its own crop of centenarian residents – the Greek island of Ikaria, the Nuoro people of the province of Sardinia, etc.

But Okinawa has been famously known for its longer-living residents for centuries, according to their neighbors the Chinese who called the island as the “Land of the Immortals”. In fact, the magic formula for the long life of the Okinawans is supposed to be a healthy balance between diet and their outlook in life: “Live simply, eat less and be happy!”.

So what are the lessons we can learn from the centenarian Okinawans regarding having a healthy constitution and living disease-free? Here they are:

Eat a plant- and fish-based diet.

Okinawans eat a simple diet that is based mainly on vegetables, rice, and fish. Very little red meat is eaten. They usually eat 3 servings of fish every week which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other fish oils.

A simple meal would consist of stir-fried vegetables with purple sweet yam (rich in lycopene, carotenoids, flavonoids, and Vitamin E), and Goya (small bitter gourd, otherwise known as ampalaya in the Philippines) and known for lowering blood sugar among diabetes patients as a staple. Miso soup which is very high in antioxidants and flavonoids – a natural protection against breast cancer – is very widely eaten.

Okinawans eat lots of konbu seaweed, plus squid and octopus which are known to be high in taurine, a nutrient that lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. And of course, no meal is without jasmine or green tea, known to be rich in antioxidants. Turmeric is also a staple vegetable.

Adopt an ikigai, a purpose in life

Okinawans have been imbued with a purpose in life ever since they were kids and obviously, up to old age. This propels them to wake up in the morning and go to bed at night, knowing that life can be full of surprises and activities every day. An ikigai is what gives meaning to their lives.

Keep an active lifestyle

Okinawans are always busy. They like to walk and tend their own little gardens of herbs and indigenous plants, predominantly ginger, mugwort and turmeric which also goes straight to the pot. Their houses hardly have any furniture. Most of the old people like to sleep and eat on tatami mats. This enables them to exercise their limbs and strengthen their bones from all that getting up and sitting down motions.

Look at life with positivity and less worry

The Okinawans certainly went through a time of hardships during the last war, but that did not faze them from looking at life with a lot of positivity. They do not tend to worry much about what they don’t have and just settle and be grateful for what they have. What a great way to look at life!

Network with the neighbors

They do know how to do social networking! Okinawans traditionally set up a network of friends who can lend support, emotionally and financially sometimes. This ensures that they always have a support network to lean to in troubled times or just to swap stories on an ordinary day.

So what do you think about the Okinawans and their way of life? Would you want to emulate the same kind of social system so you can live long and happy, as they say? Let us know in the comments below!

Image by ole044 CC BY 2.0