Due to medical and technological advances, humans now live much longer lives than their ancestors. This has created desire in many people to discover new ways to increase life longevity and health. Many of these discoveries are accompanied with false health claims and have little scientific back up. There once existed an Asian culture who’s eating habits successfully extended the life of a statistically significant number of individuals.
The Japanese Archipelago of Okinawa is famously known for having a population with above average life expectancy rates and a large number of centenarians. During the US invasion and capture of Okinawa in WW2, food records of local diets were recorded. These archives show that Okinawans practiced a primarily vegetarian diet, with fish and other animal protein consisting of only 1% of the total food consumption. What is most interesting is that 90% of the vegetables eaten came from a single source; the Okinawan sweet potato.
This leads me to agree that malnutrition is really a diet deficit in calories and not a deficit of protein consumption. With a primarily vegetarian diet, Okinawans introduced a surge of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agent that are known to combat free radical damage. On average Okinawan were 8 to 12 times less likely to die from a preventable disease.
Unfortunately, all good thing must come to an end. With the introduction of fast meals and processed foods, Okinawans have gone from being the healthiest Japanese to the least healthy. The modern Okinawa diet, compared to its traditional cuisine, is now as unhealthy as the average American diet. My interest in this topic was sparked by the 3 speakers who were supporters of a vegan diet. Although it might not be the most sustainable way to eat, I am convinced that a vegetarian and/or vegan diet is the healthiest way to eat.