Health and self care in the highest life expectancy prefecture in Japan

Smiling woman


Health and self care campaign

(Continued from “The best region among the high life expectancy in Japan”)  In 1945, Dr. Wakatsuki was assigned to Saku General Hospital, and in 1959, Dr. Yoshizawa was assigned to Kokuho Asama General Hospital in Saku City, Nagano as the director. They walked around from one local community center to another to preach health and self care to farmers. They preached them, “Let’s learn that too much salt is the reason for a stroke, and let’s prevent it.”

In 1980, this activity came to fruition as the “Prefectural Residents’ Salt Reduction Campaign” throughout Nagano Prefecture. As a result of this activity, the amount of salt intake per day was reduced from 15.9g to 11g in 1983.

Dr. Minoru Kamata, the director of Suwa Central Hospital, took over the activity later and continues to this day. The preachers enjoy their long lives on their own. Mr. Wakatsuki is 96 years old, Mr. Yoshizawa is 93, and Mr. Kamata is still active at 72.

“A trace amount of poison” of vegetables is good for the body.

The “Nagano Model” emphasizes improving and enhancing eating habits. Let’s take a look at its features.

The first is the amount of time spent eating. Nagano Prefecture’s average is 104 minutes per day, the third longest in Japan. This means that they are chewing their food well. Chewing well prevents overeating and reduces obesity. As a result, Nagano Prefecture has one of the lowest rates of obesity, which is the cause of illness.

It is also known that dementia increases when the number of chewing decreases. Chewing well is also vital in that sense.

The second is the amount of vegetable intake. Everybody knows that vegetable is good for your health. But even experts vary in their idea of why it is good actually. One of the ideas becoming mainstream nowadays is that a trace amount of poison in the vegetable helps your health.

Nagano Prefecture is the number one producer of Chinese cabbage and lettuce in Japan and is also one of the top producers of cabbage and tomatoes.

At the same time, their intake of vegetables is also the highest in Japan as consumers for both men and women. The Japanese national average daily vegetable intake is 301g, while it is 379g in Nagano Prefecture.


Local food production and consumption

Nagano Prefecture produces red wine with a high proportion of their consumption. Red wine contains polyphenols and is known to be suitable against heart disease, especially arteriosclerosis.

In addition to vegetables and red wine, Nagano Prefecture is the number one producer of other foods in Japan. “Shinshu (Nagano) miso” accounts for about half of Japan’s total miso production. (Miso is fermented soy paste, one of the Japanese staples.)
Nagano’s Mushrooms also account for about one-third of the Japanese national production.

Also, regarding consumption, Nagano Prefecture ranks first in Japan in miso and mushrooms per capita.

One of the reasons why miso and mushrooms are good for the body is because they are rich in substances called polyamines. Recently, it has become clear that this polyamine is good for health and is particularly effective in preventing aging.

Lesson: Take care of your health before getting sick and pursuing the best treatment.

Among various lessons we can learn from the Nagano model, the essential wisdom is what Dr. Yoshizawa preached: to be conscious of protecting your health. It is that each person works proactively for their health.

Ultimately, the essence is that we should take care of our health before getting sick instead of pursuing excellent treatment after getting sick.

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