Take inspiration from Japan and eat for better brain health

Okinawa is one of the world’s ‘blue zone’ regions, with a higher percentage of centenarians than anywhere else on Earth

In this Japanese prefecture, calorie counting is not seen as a constraint, but as a cultural practice where the ancient belief ‘hara hachi bu’, acts as a reminder to stop eating when you are 80% full.

“The result is that Okinawans live longer, while rates of Alzheimer’s are 75% less than everywhere else in the world”, explains brain health expert Professor James Goodwin, who works as director of Science and Research Impact for online brain health information platform Brain Health Network.

But it’s not just about eating less. The Okinawa diet is extremely varied and plant-rich, resulting in lower calorie intake and a high intake of phytonutrients, such as flavonoids. 

As plant foods are less calorie dense, the diet also offers a low glycaemic load, reducing inflammation and oxidative stress and regulating aging-related biological pathways. 

Simple changes to our everyday eating and lifestyle habits can put the learnings from the Okinawa diet into practice, improving our overall health, enhancing brain health and establishing a better brain-gut connection.

Eat your way to better brain health

  • Aim to eat more slowly, allowing your body to respond to cues that you are no longer hungry.
  • Eat more mindfully, turning off technology distractions, so you consume less and savor food more.
  • Work to increase your dietary diversity, with the goal of consuming 30 different plant-based foods each week, from a range of different fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts & seeds, herbs and spices. 

Feast on flavonoids to lower dementia risk by 20%

recent study by Harvard University has highlighted the benefits of the daily consumption of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, in order to reduce risk of developing dementia.


Those who consumed the highest amounts of flavonoids had a 20% less risk of cognitive decline, with yellow or orange fruit and vegetables, including oranges, grapefruits, peppers and bananas having the strongest brain-protective qualities.

Flavonoids are found naturally in fruits and vegetables and have also been shown in human clinical trials to provide strong protection against the development of chronic diseases.

The evidence also showed it’s never too late to promote long-term brain health, as the protective relationships were formed in those consuming flavonoids 20 years ago and in those incorporating them more recently.

Mediterranean meals can delay Parkinson’s disease by 17-years

Another recent study from the University of British Columbia (UBC) has revealed a strong correlation between following a Mediterranean diet and a later onset of Parkinson’s disease.

The study followed 176 participants and found that a diet focused on eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats, coincided with a later onset of Parkinson’s disease, by up to 17.4 years in women and 8.4 years in men.

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