Depending on the health of an old person, living a long life can be a curse or a blessing. All too often I go to funerals wherein I hear the family talk about the relief they felt at the passing of a loved one. I hear stories about grandparents living in pain for years before their time on earth is done. While this has never happened to me personally, I have gone with friends to visit their grandparents who are in a nursing home, and I always leave with a sick feeling in my stomach. I pray that that doesn’t happen to any of my family members, but I know the truth is that it is only a matter of time. Our unhealthy choices coupled with the ability for medicine to keep people alive often results in a terrible quality of life during an individual’s final years.
However, if you look at Japan, you realize that they are doing something right. They lead the world in having the most (percentage wise) citizens that are over 100 years old and healthy. Naturally, scientists have been looking into the reasons why and while they do not know for sure, the people who have studied this phenomenon think that it is a combination of DNA and healthy lifestyle choices.
While I am out of luck regarding my DNA, I have become interested in what the typical Japanese citizen does differently than me. For whatever reason, the first thing I latched on to was the Ashitaba plant. In Japan, it is very common to consume the leaves of this plant. It is common to eat the leaves raw or dry them out so that a powder can be made. This powder is then used to make tea.
For generations, the Ashitaba plant was thought to have longevity properties. This folklore is based on the plant’s ability to regenerate leaves that have been harvested. However, scientists still do not know why it is common for the Ashitaba plant to grow a new leaf within 24 hours after the old leave was cut.
Centuries ago, the people of Japan took this rejuvenating property of the Ashitaba plant as a sign of what consuming this plant can do for your body. As such, it became common to think that consuming this plant will help your body repair itself as quickly. While this logic was extremely rudimentary, scientists have been discovering lately just how beneficial the Ashitaba plant is.
So, once I started drinking tea made from Ashitaba, I began to look at what else does Japan do differently than me. As such, I further discovered that the Japanese eat far more fish, brown rice and vegetables than I do. However, the biggest difference I realized is that the Japanese eat smaller portions than most Americans. I was especially impressed to find out that in Japan, it is customary to stop eating before you feel full. Think about that, the advice in America is to eat until you feel full. In fact, this is considered the healthy advice.
I have no expectations of living over 100 years, but I do want the end of my life to be relatively healthy. As such, I have started consuming Ashitaba plant leaves as well as eating more fish and vegetables. But, most of all, I have focused on reducing my meal portions.