Asian Foods for Health
Despite great efforts by the emperors in China, no single magic food was discovered for healthy longevity except at an imaginary Shangri-La. Neither was anything found in the west. In reality, our desire for healthy longevity could be apparently achieved not by what to eat but how to eat. The Asians’ healthy longevity has likely been derived from their omnivorous eating, as many agree. That is, eating of a variety of foods from plant and animal origins in a well-balanced manner. The food supply in Asia also contributes to its eating habit. Most Asian regions are located in monsoon tropical-subtropical climate zones where lots of the vegetation of grains and vegetables are grown. Besides, plenty of rain creates fresh water lakes and rivers, which also provide aquatic creatures of plant or animal origins in addition to those from surrounding seas or beaches. Asian omnivorous eating is a result of food supplies from natural environments.
In addition, most Asian territories have been under the influence of Buddhism, which discourages killing animals to eat. This idea is based on reincarnation of living creatures; in other words, you may be reborn as a cow or sheep in the next world. However, many eat anything with four legs except for tables or chairs. Among the four legs, some food taboos are enforced like no pork or no beef in the Middle East or Asian sub-continent, respectively. Fish and aquatic creatures are exempted from this ideology. In the place of protein from animal origins, beans and aquatic creatures are consumed. In addition, protein in grains supplies this essential nutrient. Accordingly, Asians diets consist of a little bit of animal foods and lots of grains and vegetables, for being omnivorous. A Japanese national dietary guideline recommends eating at least 30 kinds of foods a day to be healthy.
When an economy rises, people demand more animal foods. When consuming more animal foods in an omnivorous diet, people would become more active, which would possibly apply toward economic activities. In today’s China, as a good example, people eat more chicken or pork or many-dish banquet meals, which appear to make more economic progresses. With thick purses, they visit tourist destinations of the world today, so as Japanese did some 50 or so years ago. As a consequence, people face new health issues which could arise from the increased animal food intake. An epidemiological survey shows more western style diseases like stroke or high blood pressure symptoms among Japanese descendants in Hawaii in comparison with Japanese in Japan. The reason for it is claimed due to the increased intake of animal foods by such Hawaiians. In Japan animal food, or rather American style eating, is often blamed for these geriatric diseases, which discourages eating burgers and French fries. I think it might be partially fair or partially unjust to say this. Though, it might not be easy to practice the best way to be healthy. We are not Zen monks who are pure vegetarians, we are not strongly willed to practice so-called ideal eating only, and it is not easy for us to avoid all food additives or a drop of alcohol. If we try to practice something good for health out of the Asian eating, eat more veggies, not only leafy greens but also root veggies, and eat not excessive animal food like meat or cheese. Rather, eat more sea veggies, all parts of animals like people in Okinawa who have the longest healthy life in the world. Be omnivorous by eating more than 30 kinds of food in a balanced manner. Can you do that? Try at least once in a while!
The healthy longevity is a combined practice of good eating/nutrition, moderate exercise and adequate rest. Eating is likely the hardest among the three. Personally, I try best not to take excess amounts of foods on a plate at a buffet. No going back for more food. It sounds easy but hard to practice.