Why are people so Healthy in Japan?

, , 100 Comments


When it comes to health, weight of course
is not everything, but since there are so many health complications from being overweight
or obese, it’s safe to say that Japan with an obesity rate of 3.5% is generally healthier
than America with an obesity rate of 30%. Japan isn’t perfect, it has found itself
on the 2012 top 50 list for cancer rates, but it comes in near the bottom of the list
at rank #48 while America is at rank #6. I’m contrasting Japan with America simply
because these are the two countries I’ve lived in. Last time, I argued that convenient access
to reasonably healthy food in Japan helps people stay thin. But what else contributes to health? In my last video, a lot of comments pointed
out that in Tokyo you end up walking everywhere, which is true and should help people stay
lean. Also, walking while eating is generally frowned
upon, so more walking means less snacking. Public transportation is impressively convenient
and reliable – if you’re traveling around Tokyo, your destination is almost always within a
20 minute walk from that area’s train, subway or bus station. However, this is just Tokyo. Such a population dense part of Japan with
highly organized public transportation unsurprisingly has the lowest rate of car ownership in Japan. What’s interesting is that average body
mass index doesn’t change too drastically prefecture to prefecture, and higher car ownership
doesn’t particularly correlate to higher body mass index. That said, more walking surely helps people
stay leaner and healthier, but it’s just one piece of a bigger puzzle. Next, the portion sizes in Japan are definitely
smaller. Here’s what some typical lunches look like. When I first came to live in Japan in 2010,
I remember always being a little disappointed with the size of the meals. Of course bigger portions and even all you
can eat places are available, but Since food is more expensive here, I had to just get
used to eating less food. In 2014, people spent on average about 13.5%
of their income on food, which is more than twice what people in America spent. In 2013, 3682 calories were consumed per person
per day in America, but it was only 2726 calories per day in Japan. So Japanese people typically spend more money
for less calories. Although, cheap calories from the sugar in
soda is probably a factor here as Americans consumed more than 5 times the amount of soda
Japan did in 2011. Next, the type of food being eaten over here
is of course different. You may have noticed in the clips I just showed
that everything comes with rice. The Japanese diet is by no means low carb,
but while Japan and America eat about the same amount of the two grains Wheat and Rice
combined, Japan eats about half as much wheat as America. Cutting out wheat or gluten is usually suspected
to be only a fad, but gluten, found in wheat and not rice, has been shown to have some
unique properties. This 2012 Brazilian rodent study for example,
found that putting just 4.5% wheat gluten in the diet increases body fat, inflammation,
and insulin resistance. Work by Dr. Alessio Fasano and his team has
shown that the gliadin protein of gluten, through the stimulation of a protein called
Zonulin, opens up the spaces between the epithelial cells in your gut. This allows gliadin fragments to leak through
the gut into the bloodstream, provoking an immune response and inflammation. However, since the reaction to gluten differs
person to person and the science is relatively new and complex, it’s hard to say by what
degree wheat is worse than rice or how much wheat is too much. Next is the regular consumption of fermented
foods in Japan. Élie Metchnikoff, winner of the 1908 Nobel
Prize in Medicine, was the first to propose the theory that lactic acid bacteria are beneficial
to human health. He suggested that “oral administration of
cultures of fermentative bacteria would implant the beneficial bacteria in the intestinal
tract.” As research on the gut microbiome develops,
the health effects of certain gut microbes and bacteria are becoming clearer. A transplant of the microbes from one overweight
woman to another woman caused the receiving woman to become obese, and it’s been found
that transplanting microbes from a confident mouse to an anxious mouse will make that anxious
mouse more confident. It’s estimated that there are 500 to 1000
species of bacteria just in your gut, and it’s important to take care of the right
species of these bacteria. There’s even research showing that certain
microbes produce certain neurotransmitters. And, fermented foods are supposed to support
the microbes that we do want to have. Plenty of fermented foods have been part of
the Japanese diet for a very long time. There’s Natto, soy sauce, miso, fermented
fish and tsukemono which is pickled vegetables. Kimuchi, a fermented food traditionally from
Korea, is also widely available in Japan. Fermented foods like these are very easy to
find at the supermarket, and it’s common to get a side of Japanese pickles with your
meal. The next point is balanced meat consumption. In 2017, total meat consumption in the U.S.
per capita was 98.4 kg where 51.4kg of meat per capita were consumed in Japan. American people per capita ate only 7 kilograms
of seafood in 2015, while Japanese people ate 27.3 kilograms of fish and fish products
in 2014. If the meat everyone was eating was antibiotic
free grass fed meat, high meat consumption might not be a bad thing, but in any case
we can agree that a higher fish intake is generally good for you. And I don’t think it would surprise you
to hear that it’s really easy to get fish wherever you are in Japan. But there’s another kind of balance that
might be a factor – it’s the muscle meat to organ meat ratio. Organ meats have not usually been much of
a component of the American diet. During World War 2, people were encouraged
to eat organ meats as part of the food rationing effort. Articles like this one in this 1943 issue
of Time Magazine sold organ meats as highly nutritious and explained how to cook them. The effort had some success in changing people’s
views on organ meats, but the effect, didn’t last much longer than the war itself. This is unfortunate because, as the time magazine
issue shows, organ meats are rich in certain vitamins that muscle meat is not. And, glycine, an amino acid found in skin,
cartilage and connective tissue has several important health benefits- from being an anti-inflammatory
to improving skin elasticity, improving insulin response, and it has been shown to ameliorate
oxidative stress and lower blood pressure. This study found that you could get a 30%
increase in lifespan in rodents by restricting methionine, an amino acid found in muscle
meat, or you could get a 30% increase in lifespan by supplementing glycine. Glycine supplementation also reduced fasting
blood sugar, fasting insulin and even triglycerides. So it looks like the potential negative effects
from eating too much muscle meat can be counteracted by simply consuming more of things like skin,
cartilage, connective tissue, and bone broth. Now in America you can surely find organ meats
at some supermarkets, but in my 20 years in America, organ meats were rarely on the menu,
though chicken skin is easy enough to find. Over in Japan, organ meats aren’t eaten
every day of course, but they are more common. You can find them at the supermarket, or at
Barbeque places and HorumonYaki places specialize in organ meats,
you can also get them on skewers at Yakitori places. Pork is a big part of Okinawan cuisine and
they don’t waste much of the animal Another thing is green tea consumption. Green tea has been found to have anti-inflammatory,
antioxidant and anti-cancer effects as well as blood sugar lowering effects thanks to
the catechins in it. Though, I’m betting green tea being healthy
isn’t new information to you. Back when I lived in the states, the reason
drinking it didn’t become a habit was that it was simply annoying to have to buy it at
the supermarket and then come home and make it. Here, pretty much any restaurant serves it,
sometimes for free, and you can always buy it from one of the many many vending machines
prevalent throughout the country. What might be an even bigger benefit from
regularly drinking green tea and other teas is that it keeps people from drinking sugary
sodas. Here, I rarely see people here drinking soda
with their meal, but I see people drinking tea all the time. One last point is the food being served to
young children. In Japan, school meals are planned out by
a nutritionist, cooked mostly from scratch from local ingredients, then served in the
classroom by the students and eating manners are taught by the teacher. The only drink allowed is milk, so students
can’t be drinking juice or other sweet drinks. The meals aren’t always perfect, but they’re
a lot better than what I remember getting from the cafeteria in grade school in the
states. There’s plenty more things about Japan I
haven’t mentioned here, some that I even expect would be bigger determinants of health
like consumption of Processed Foods, Sugar and processed corn, seed and soy oils. In short, it seems that people in Japan eat
a lot more food rather than food like products. Japan’s food culture has contributed a lot
to health over here, and I expect a lot more could be learned from looking at other countries’
food environments. This video was sponsored by Audible… which
is something I use almost every day. I’ve gotten a lot comments before asking about
my research process. And, honestly most of it is just reading all
the time and taking notes. Most of my reading is actually listening to
non-fiction books on Audible. I usually set the playback speed to twice
as fast and when I come across a bit that sounds important, I use the bookmark function
to leave a note so I can come back to that point later. Of course Audible isn’t just for non-fiction,
they have an unmatched selection of all kinds of audiobooks, original audio shows, news,
comedy, and more. I particularly enjoyed the book “Missing Microbes”
by Dr. Martin Blaser. The book really came in handy while working
on my last video on the Microbiome, and it was just a really interesting and enjoyable
listen about the repercussions of using antibiotics too much. If you’d like to check it out, go to www.audible.com/whativelearned or text ‘whativelearned’
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100 Responses

  1. already dead おかげトランスレータ

    July 2, 2019 6:48 am

    To be honest those meals you showed seems pretty damn big rice is super filling and so is large sums of liquid like soup would fill me the hell up- Fat American

    Reply
  2. Anastasia B

    July 2, 2019 5:15 pm

    They are healthy because their government is not controlled by lobby groups representing international mega-corporations like Kroger or Bayer, whose profits depend on keeping the people sick.

    Reply
  3. Jasmine Smith

    July 2, 2019 5:34 pm

    I don’t care for the antioxidants and health benefits of organ meat, STILL NOT EATING IT LOL

    Reply
  4. Bendirval

    July 3, 2019 6:52 pm

    One thing I noticed when I was there was that food was expensive, but always high quality. You can get a very large amount of food at a low price in America (whether at a restaurant or a grocery store) but virtually everything you see for sale in Japan seems pristine. I don't know what they do with their bruised fruit and older vegetables. Feed them to animals, presumably?

    Reply
  5. A Boston

    July 4, 2019 10:22 am

    Thank you for this informative video! I love gaining knowledge about nutrition and health. Great video!

    Reply
  6. বাতাবি লেবুর ফলন

    July 4, 2019 12:59 pm

    { /}
    (°_°)
    /><✓🍺
    `°°°°`
    Why don't they just stop eating Whale meat?
    Leave one single item from your menu.

    Reply
  7. Kathlyn

    July 4, 2019 6:27 pm

    Many statistics say eating meat skin or charred meat can lead to stomach cancer. Please do research on this, you don't have to take my word for it.

    Reply
  8. Saman Gharatchorlou

    July 4, 2019 7:56 pm

    Not sure what the long discussion is about when you have 3682 calories vs 2726 calories eaten, obviously one will be fat.

    Reply
  9. KingFahtah

    July 6, 2019 5:09 am

    30 years or so ago people in America and other western countries had a similar diet to today but there was much less obesity. There must certainly be other factors outside of diet, such as the additives food companies are using and how much people consume compared to how fast they burn calories.

    Reply
  10. undertaker666dead

    July 7, 2019 11:12 pm

    Why are people so Healthy in Japan? They need to be so they can run away from Godzilla

    Reply
  11. Airi Potato

    July 9, 2019 2:16 am

    Living in japan, I can confirm that America’s portions are humongous compared to the sizes I would normally eat

    Reply
  12. Bandana zX

    July 11, 2019 12:35 am

    The US government has lied to their citizens since the 70s, which is when the obesity epidemic began.

    Reply
  13. Jaigarful

    July 11, 2019 10:00 pm

    What about if you adjust for average size? Japanese Male height is about 2.5-3 inches shorter than the average American. How much more do you have to eat to maintain the same weight? 100-200 more calories a day?

    Reply
  14. MalvinNathaniel

    July 12, 2019 1:54 pm

    The wheat is USA is refined wheat. Use regular wheat flour and it's better than white rice (in some cases, even brown rice) because of the wheat germ and dietary fibre.

    Reply
  15. GabiTehOtaku

    July 12, 2019 6:03 pm

    So basically if i ever wanna lose weight I got to drink green tea and make a japanese meal plan. Great! I have an Asian store near me too

    Reply
  16. Me AndMeToo

    July 13, 2019 8:26 pm

    So why is Europe less healthy than Japan even though a lot of the Japanese advantages applies in Europe.

    Reply
  17. gidramom

    July 15, 2019 5:32 am

    Excellent health insurance system. Medical bills/drug costs are much lower than US. And people are obsessed with healthy diet.

    Reply
  18. Random Person

    July 15, 2019 6:21 am

    A higher fish intake might not be so good for Americans. Japan has a lot of coast, so they have eaten more seafood, however, most Americans have not. It’s kinda similar to how most Japanese people are lactose intolerant because they’ve never had much access to milk

    Reply
  19. Taro

    July 16, 2019 2:50 pm

    Japanese: Nah Japan is full of carbs and salty foods. Learn from Italy!

    Italian: Nah Italian foods are too greasy. Learn from Japan!

    Reply
  20. Carol Benson

    July 17, 2019 3:20 am

    Portions here in the US restaurants are huge. One lunch or dinner is enough for 3 meals!

    Reply
  21. Greg Cox

    July 17, 2019 6:50 pm

    couple of more pieces to the puzzle:
    – eating with chop sticks: it's slower, recognizing saity.
    – savory over sweet; sweet stimulates appetite and more eating.
    – salt; low salt, high sodium diets actually increase obesity
    You nailed the gut biome connection!!!
    Thank you for these videos, very helpful!
    I've recently lost 30+ lbs and did a lot of research on diet types.

    Reply
  22. Soylent GoogleCuck

    July 20, 2019 6:42 am

    japan portions look exactly like canada except in canada you get fucked over sideways on prices for every single thing

    Reply
  23. Ms XY

    July 20, 2019 9:22 am

    1:36 Whaaat these portion sizes are comsidered small??? 😅 Looking at these japanese meals i think THE PORTIONS LOOK HUGE TO ME 😲 i could perhaps eat the half of the portions showed. Recently saw a video of a japanese lady and what she eats during one day and after the half of the video i was seriously starting to feel sick from the amounts of foods she was showing, everything looked delicious but way too much. And i wondered how such a small woman can eat such loads of food. If this is considered "a small portion" for US standards i dont want to see what sizes american people eat. 🙈

    Reply
  24. Ms XY

    July 20, 2019 9:30 am

    2:17 OMG okay, im from europe and i eat aprox. 800 to 1200 kcal a day…. 😅😅😅 and im not anorexic or skinny, just normal. This is hardcore. So if i ever visit the US i have to order the children menues when going to a restaurant 😂😂😂😂😂😂

    Reply
  25. THE GEAR

    July 21, 2019 3:56 am

    its not because japans food is so healty. yes it is healthy compare to ours since we are a 3rd world country. but we have variety of food choices which are not expensive and those are real foods not like kfc and mc donalds of u.s.

    Reply
  26. Ashutosh Sachan

    July 21, 2019 11:46 am

    The title is incomplete. “Why are people so healthy in Japan…despite being miserable fucks” seems more apt.

    Reply
  27. Mr Supreme Pizza

    July 22, 2019 8:46 pm

    They eat real food. A McDonalds burger has 350 more calories than a normal burger and 30% more fat

    Reply
  28. And Peggy

    July 23, 2019 3:56 am

    ok that settles it im moving to japan, also i live in us and one time we were at costco and at the food place the only size of soda cup was 20 oz soda or 5- 6 oz free water cup and we didn't want to steal so my mom got two 20 oz and 2/3 filled them the five of us split and we were all fine

    Reply
  29. kav sch

    July 23, 2019 2:16 pm

    In America and Polynesia, obesity is considered a sign of wealth. An obese person is wealthy enough to over consume. Fat guys get all the hot chicks. Gross.

    Reply
  30. Steve's Vids

    July 23, 2019 4:04 pm

    These test that they conduct are kinda unrealistic since they take a poll of already unhealthy people then label them as the majority when realistically you would have to at least have more then half the country to see if people in these countries are actually unhealthy. Maybe a public record of everyone's bmi records or weight that's honestly the only way you could really run a mass scale test to see if people are fit or unhealthy in any country. I rarely see obese people in person but online everyone makes it seem like everyone is obese even though that's not realistic.

    Reply
  31. Hélia Alves

    July 23, 2019 6:44 pm

    4:18 "A transplant of the microbes from one overweight woman to another woman cause the receiving woman to become obese" Did you people pay attention to this? This is something! Why is no one talking about this?

    Reply
  32. emmafrost13

    July 24, 2019 9:55 pm

    I think the prices of food and culture obsessed with being skinny in Japan keep them 'healthy'

    Reply
  33. Dolly and Beanie

    July 24, 2019 10:30 pm

    Walking…walk fuckers…walk…I have no car and I walk everywhere especially if I see a hottie…hey wassup😘

    Reply
  34. lauren lopez

    July 26, 2019 12:53 am

    I have never been to Japan but I dream to go there one day. Japanese food I say i healthier than American food.

    Reply
  35. mido

    July 28, 2019 1:07 pm

    Germany has similar issues as the US. I wish fish, fresh foods on the go and unsweetened drinks that aren't water or diet soda (lol) were more available.

    Reply
  36. leeuniverse

    July 31, 2019 7:57 pm

    Carbs is what has destroyed America's diet… whatever form they take from complex to simple to processed.

    Reply
  37. kysike666

    August 1, 2019 6:58 pm

    They know how to eat right! America is a country of Glutonny.. They have no discipline that’s why a lot are obese and gross… n they want to make that normal in their twisted society!!

    Reply
  38. Electric Unicycles EU

    August 2, 2019 2:03 am

    Did you check the mercury and other heavy metal levels? The food in Japan is both full of nutrients and full of toxins. See Minamata disease

    Reply
  39. e efilysp

    August 2, 2019 1:25 pm

    Mmm.. I think you are not being totally clear when it comes to rice, bread, and alcohol consumption in japan, which is sky high. I lived there myself. The fact that japanese people manage to stay thin doesn't seat well with the ketone diet, and you must surely be aware of that. Also italians eat more pasta than Americans by an order of magnitude, and they happen to be one of the most healthy people on the planet. I thumb you down on this one, because I feel you did not properly address this contradiction in your video.

    Reply
  40. Ground Control

    August 4, 2019 9:34 am

    im deadass a vegetarian and I sat here, watched a video mostly about meat, went “I should eat some of that if it helps improve skin elasticity,” remembered I was a vegetarian,

    Now I don’t know what to eat,

    Reply
  41. Raw Select Music

    August 4, 2019 3:13 pm

    Regular consumption of CoCo壱番屋 will definitely fix that calorie deficit you're experiencing…

    Reply
  42. KK Caravan

    August 4, 2019 6:32 pm

    Vlog visit to Pakistan once. We welcoming you Pakistan is a beautiful country and paradise on earth

    Reply
  43. A Nii

    August 5, 2019 8:28 pm

    Fake japanese food isn’t at all so healthy just remember soy sauce is full of salt 🧂 plus msg stuff like that isn’t so healthy

    Reply
  44. Saurabh Kumar

    August 6, 2019 8:32 am

    My Grandparents ate very moderate all life long. They died at age of 94 and 93 and had lean bodies with no belly at all, had been healthy and active all life long. I noticed, they ate almost no fat to very little. They did incorporate lemon in their diet everyday. They also ate more organic that time. They lived in India. Greetings from Germany!

    Reply
  45. luisgentil

    August 13, 2019 12:13 pm

    I got tired of trying to lose weight after over a decade of working out regularly, eating whole wheat foods, replacing sugar for sweeteners, avoiding sweet foods, drinking lots of green tea and forcing myself to eat fruits and vegetables. So I went through bariatric surgery and lost almost 100 lb. The ridiculous part is how simple my diet has become compared to what nutritionists prescribed me before. Instead of an overwhelming variety of vegetables, seeds, fruits and nuts I was supposed to eat, I was basically given two rules: cut out all caloric beverages and prioritize protein intake. So I got used to not drinking with my food (never drank soda, beer or juice again) and started to include more meat, eggs and cheese in my diet. I stopped eating whole meals based on cakes, breads and cookies, which was very common before, and started to snack on a piece of cheese, beef jerky/dried sausages or something whey supplemented. My mother who nagged me about my body my entire life is now worried because I'm too skinny. I found out my abs have muscles. By blood exams show healthy levels of cholesterol and triglycerides for the first time in my life. It's kind of outrageous how much misinformation is out there about weight loss.

    I don't mean anything that I said to disagree with the video. A lot of it makes sense based on my personal experience. But it doesn't mean that what works for the Japanese will work for everyone. Japan is a small island where seafood is widely available in a huge variety and is probably cheap. Where I live beef and chicken are a lot easier to get. And the Japanese are used to mild flavors, with a lot less salt and sugar than Westeners are used to.

    Reply
  46. Diego Medeiros

    August 13, 2019 2:52 pm

    Here in Brazil (at least outside of the big big metropoles) food also is "real" more than processed. And we eat a lot of organs meat too(the most famous food here for outsiders is Feijoada, with have a lot of theses types of meat), but fish isint that commom for us. Sadly, and sugar drinks also is famous. I stop with theses 2 years ago. but we as country really like coca-cola…and the nacional drink Guaraná(urg, is the most tentation..)

    Reply
  47. Doug Ronald

    August 13, 2019 9:50 pm

    He didn’t even mention bento boxes in Japan. It’s automatic portion control. Bento boxes also get the Japanese eating various samples of food items instead of binging on larger portions of fewer items.

    Reply
  48. Carleyxxhealth Xx

    August 16, 2019 4:24 pm

    Can you imagine getting rid of belly fat and bloating through the power of drinking and eating? Working out clearly shows that it gets rid of belly fat and bloating, but what if you could drink something delicious that has the same effect of working off fat? I work with a line of delicious products that seriously slim you down. And if pure interested I’ll gladly tell you more and even show you personal pictures of success on my insta! Just follow @carleyxxhealth for more info and pop me a message! Great video as well 💕💕

    Reply
  49. Dina love

    August 19, 2019 7:25 am

    High quality food does cost more, and its clear Japanese people value quality over quantity. You can stay satisfied on little if its of high quality.

    Reply
  50. Bushra Fatima

    August 21, 2019 11:26 pm

    I have an important question. Is there any spice to asian food at all? Or is it just bland always??

    Reply
  51. Mad A

    August 22, 2019 4:56 pm

    Idk wtf I did because I’m from America, but while I was living in Japan for 4 months, I gained 15-20 pounds…

    Reply

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