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6 Health Habits to Take Home from Japan

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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:

 

sashimi

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!


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Fermented Foods: Essential Digestive Aids

By Delia Quigley for Care2.com

Humans have been fermenting foods to aid in digestion for as far back as we can trace. Primarily they were fermented to improve holding and storing properties of foods. The milk from camels was fermented naturally to produce some of the first yogurts. Stored in goat bags and dropped over the back of camels in the hot deserts of North Africa with temperatures reaching 40C (110F) It was the ideal environment for lactic acid-producing bacteria to go to work. Pickles date back to ancient Egypt and vinegar was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a digestive aid, and to promote a healthy liver and gallbladder.

Every culture in the world has some form of fermented foods they eat with meals to aid in digestion. It isn’t necessary to eat very much, just enough to provide the proper enzymes to help break down food and make the nutrients available for absorption in the small intestine. Common in Indian, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine are sweet, sour and salty pickles; while in North and Central Europe you will find sauerkraut and, again, pickles; the Mediterranean countries serve a small glass of red wine, cider or beer with meals to provide digestive enzymes.


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10 Reasons Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat

By Delia Quigley for Care2.com

“A good, functional and healthy body is the ultimate fashion statement.” Kiyokazu Washida, fashion critic

Recently I came upon a small, but informative book by Naomi Moriyama entitled Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat. Intrigued and a bit skeptical, although I follow a very similar style of diet, I found some delicious recipes to add to my daily repertoire of meals and gleaned some useful tidbits of information. Such as, for the past 25 years Japanese women have held the world record for living the longest with an average of 86.4 years. Not just the women, Japanese men have the longest life expectancy among all men in the world’s 192 nations. Much of this distinction is attributed to eating a healthy diet.

In her book, Moriyama takes the reader into her mother’s kitchen in Japan and reveals her secrets for living a long and healthy life. Not much you haven’t heard before, and yet taken altogether and practiced over a lifetime, the results are impressive. Here’s the Japanese recipe for living to a ripe old age, while staying active and healthy.



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How to Cook Healthy Japanese Food at Home

When someone says “Japanese food” does your mind automatically revert to a heaping platter of sushi? While there are plenty of healthy (and unhealthy) sushi options for anyone watching their diet, there is far more to the Japanese cuisine than sushi, which you can easily make from scratch at home.

Unlike the American diet, notorious for its “super-size” portions,  the Japanese diet is modest, with smaller portions. “Many Japanese people are taught to eat until they are just 80% full,” said Namiko Chen, author of the Japanese home cooking blog Just One Cookbook.

As with any cuisine, you can prepare lighter dishes at home than you would receive in a restaurant because you have complete control over how much salt, butter, cream or oil you add to your dish.


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Everything You Need to Know About Probiotics

There’s been a lot of buzz about probiotics lately, and they seem to be showing up everywhere whether it’s in supplements, yogurt, smoothies or even ice cream! So what’s the big benefit and what do you need to know about them? We put together a question-and-answer guide to give you the 411 on probiotics!

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live organisms, such as bacteria and yeast, most of which are similar to the healthy flora that we naturally have in our guts. Probiotics are naturally found in some foods like yogurt and kefir, along with other foods that are fermented such as miso, tempeh and sauerkraut. You can also buy probiotic supplements.

Why Are Probiotics Helpful?

Although there isn’t a lot of concrete research on this, doctors believe that having the right — or wrong — balance of bacteria in your stomach may play a role in digestive issues, obesity, immunity, eczema, and possibly even help with common childhood ailments such as strep throat, ear infections, colds and diarrhea, along with helping with food allergies.


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