The world’s oldest person’s name is Kane Tanaka, and she’s from southern Japan. So how does someone manage to live for so long? According to Tanaka, she is an early riser, waking up at 6 a.m every day, and she also enjoys studying math. But let’s delve in a bit more to get a better understanding of how she has lived to be the oldest person alive. She lives in Fukuoka, a city in southern Japan. Japan is renowned for the longevity of its residents and also as one of the healthiest countries, with its clean eating habits and well-balanced lifestyle. Another city in Japan, Okinawa, has even earned the title of one of the world’s original five Blue Zones. A Blue Zone has been classified as a place in the world where people live the longest and healthiest. Even though Fukuoka isn’t quite Okinawa, the Japanese lifestyle as a whole can teach us a lot about aging well. From their cuisine to their culture, it makes sense that this country is home to the oldest woman alive.
The Japanese diet is deemed excellent for aging well, as it’s lower in calories but at the same time, high in nutrients. Miso is a popular Japanese seasoning, and it comes along with gut-healing abilities—and we now know that gut health has been linked to longevity. The Japanese style of eating, called Washoku, contains plenty of locally sourced, natural ingredients like vegetables, seafood, and rice. Washoku also emphasizes a connection to the earth, with Japanese people still gardening their own food. But their eating habits aren’t the only noteworthy thing about Japanese culture that’s been tied to longevity.
The themes of purpose and connection are prevalent within the culture, too. Moai in Japanese means “a group of lifelong friends” or a social support group that forms to provide varying support from social, financial, health, or spiritual interests. With research proving that loneliness can cause inflammation and potentially take years off your life, “moai” can make that much less of a concern. And not only that but ikigai, which roughly translates to “reason for being,” highlights the importance of living a life of purpose, which is also linked with longevity. There may be no exact formula to live to 100 and beyond. Still, one thing is evident: Certain cultures are definitely onto something through a combination of healthy eating, strong relationships, active lifestyles, and living with purpose.