Recently I was lucky enough to spend 10 days in Japan. It was cherry blossom season—and a trip that’s been on my bucket list for a while. I only learned two new Japanese words—”konichiwa” is “hello” and “arigato” is “thank you”—but I figured out at least a few explanations for why Japan continues to rate high in rankings of the world’s healthiest countries. Here are a few tricks that are helping our neighbors to the west—who boast the greatest proportion of citizens over 100—live long and healthy lives:
Fish comes first: Eaten raw, cooked, or somewhere in between, not a day went by that I didn’t have fish during my trip. All of this seafood was good for my body and brain: the blend of lean protein and healthy fats makes fish a staple in many diet and healthy eating programs. I’ve always liked sushi, but this visit gave me a new appreciation for sashimi—basically raw fish any rice: You get all of the benefits of the fish without the calories or sugar of the rice!
We all know that swimming is a great, low-impact, full-body workout. But it’s not the only way to get in shape in the water. Over the last few years, traditional strength training, cardio workouts, and even yoga have taken to the water to deliver a form of exercise that is easy on the joints and effective at toning and strengthening the muscles. Sure, there’s water aerobics. But there are also a handful of other fitness styles that have taken the plunge into the pool, creating an entirely new experience for some of your favorite group exercises classes.
Aqua Zumba adds a fun challenge to one of the most popular group exercise classes in the world. The concept and moves are the same as in a traditional Zumba class, but the extra resistance created by pushing against the water adds a great strength-training element to the workout. The class is held in shallow water (about chest height for the average participant) and the instructor is positioned near the ledge of the pool (so that everyone can see her movements and follow instruction). Aqua Zumba is described as a fun pool party- where you don’t even realize that you get a great workout.
Spring is here, bringing with it green grass, warmer temperatures, baseball season, and allergies. Depending on where you live, you may be feeling the effects of allergies more strongly than others. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has released their list of “the 100 most challenging places to live with allergies.”
The 10 Worst Places for spring allergies:
By Janis Jibrin, M.S., RD, Best Life lead nutritionist
Which of your five senses is most important to you? If you said “sight,” you’d be in the majority—four out of five baby boomers chose sight in a survey by the Ocular Nutrition Society.
So be proactive about protecting your sight: Eating to ensure your eyes stay healthy is as easy as following these three steps:
Choose antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E protect your eyes from free radicals, damaging compounds that can cause cataracts and macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. A recent study of Swedish women found that those who consumed a diet with the most antioxidant power (one that featured antioxidants that worked best together to protect health) were 13 percent less likely to develop cataracts. Fruits and vegetables topped the list of main sources of antioxidants with 44 percent, followed by whole grains (17 percent) and coffee (15 percent).
Almost all of today’s most popular diets are low-carb, high-protein. Atkins has been big for decades; Paleo is an ever-expanding movement, thanks in part to its following of cross-fit fans; and other plans like Dukan, Medifast, and Southbeach aren’t got anywhere anytime soon. But, while this eating formula may result in noticeable weight loss for most folks, a new study, profiled in a Huffington Post article, suggests high-protein diets may also shorten your life. That’s a pretty big deal.
Here’s what we know: