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The Okinawa Program: How the World's Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health--And How You Can Too [Paperback]

Bradley J. Willcox , D. Craig Willcox , Makoto Suzuki
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 12 2002
“If Americans lived more like the Okinawans, 80 percent of the nation’s coronary care units, one-third of the cancer wards, and a lot of the nursing homes would be shut down.” —From The Okinawa Program

The Okinawa Program, authored by a team of internationally renowned experts, is based on the landmark scientifically documented twenty-five-year Okinawa Centenarian Study, a Japanese Ministry of health–sponsored study. This breakthrough book reveals the diet, exercise, and lifestyle practices that make the Okinawans the healthiest and longest-lived population in the world. With an easy-to-follow Four-Week Turnaround Plan, nearly one hundred fast, delicious recipes, and a moderate exercise plan, The Okinawa Program can dramatically increase your chances for a long, healthy life

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If ever there were a prescription for longevity, the folks of Okinawa, a collection of islands strung between Japan and Taiwan, have found it. Considered the world's healthiest people, residents of this tropical archipelago routinely live active, independent lives well into their 90s and 100s. Their rates of obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, memory loss, menopause, and breast, colon and prostate cancer rank far below the rates for these illnesses in America and other industrialized countries. In fact, researchers believe many Okinawans are physically younger than their chronological ages. In essence, the Okinawans have found a way to beat the clock.

How do they do it? In The Okinawa Program, Bradley J. Willcox, M.D., D. Craig Willcox, Ph.D., and Makoto Suzuki, M.D. reveal the islanders' age-defying secrets. Of course, there are really no surprises here: a low-fat diet, exercise, stress management, strong social and family ties, and spiritual connectedness--the same things experts have been recommending for years--all play key roles in keeping the Okinawans youthful. But in this fascinating read, which is peppered with inspiring anecdotes about these remarkable people, the authors provide concrete evidence that adopting these healthy habits pays off significantly in terms of tacking more productive years onto our lives.

Based on the authors' 25-year Okinawa Centenarian Study, this extraordinarily well-written book demonstrates that genetics provide only so much protection against disease. Indeed, the authors often remind us that when younger Okinawans pick up Western habits, their rates of obesity, illness, and life expectancy start to match ours as well. Clearly, when it comes to longevity, healthy lifestyle habits will out. That said, the major message of The Okinawa Program is that we can easily adopt the life-lengthening strategies that have served the Okinawans so well for generations. To that end, the authors pack chapters with suggestions for following "The Way," from eating a low-fat, low-calorie diet packed with fiber and complex carbohydrates (cooking up the book's more than 80 recipes is a start) and learning tai chi to finding time to meditate and relax, developing one's spirituality, doing volunteer work, and building a solid network of friends and family. Rounding out the book, the authors pull their key recommendations into a comprehensive yet doable four-week plan that's meant to get you started. Following "The Way" isn't a free shot at immortality, but it certainly helps stack the deck in your favor. --Norine Dworkin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Twin brothers Bradle and D. Craig Willcox, an internist and anthropologist, respectively, and geriatrician Suzuki, fascinatingly recount the results of a 25-year study of Okinawa, where people live exceptionally long and productive lives. There are more than 400 centenarians in Okinawa, where the average lifespan is 86 for women and above 77 for men. Most impressive is the quality of life Okinawans maintain into old age; the book is filled with inspiring glimpses of elderly men and women who are still gardening, working and walking into and well beyond their 90s. The authors point out that while genetics may account, in part, for Okinawans' longevity, studies have revealed that when they move away from the archipelago and abandon their traditional ways, they lose their health advantage, proving that lifestyle is, at the very least, a highly influential factor. The Okinawans' program of diet, exercise and spiritual health apparently lowers their risk for heart disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's, as well as breast, ovarian, prostate and other cancers. According to the authors, "the Okinawan Way" is neither elusive nor esoteric. It consists, in part, of a low-calorie, plant-based, high complex-carbohydrate diet. Exercise, the authors maintain, is essential, as is attention to spirituality and friendships. Okinawans, too, lead slower-paced, less stressful lives than most Westerners. The outcome of years of extensive medical research, this book offers a practical and optimistic vision of growing old. (May)Forecast: An eight-city author tour, plus advertising in New Age, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the New Age trade press, should bring this book the attention and sales it deserves.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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In Ogimi, a pleasant small village typical of northern Okinawa, a stone welcome marker stands near the beach. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This letter is in response to some misunderstandings from a couple of previous reviewers about levels and types of fat in the Okinawa diet. Before I get into my comments on the Okinawa diet I would like to say that I am a professional nurse/educator/nutrition researcher from Okinawa (born and raised) who also spent some time in the United States (California). My comments regarding the Okinawa diet are based on my professional experience involved in nutrition and other health education/research.I have worked with (or know) many nutritional researchers in Okinawa and am familiar with the nutritional research literature on diet and longevity as well. I think I can understand why some American reviewers have mistaken the Okinawa diet as �ghigh fat�h, as we like to use vegetable oil in most of our stir-fry cooking (called champuru) and there has been increasing fat intake in Okinawa and the rest of post-war Japan which has resulted in large generational differences. Here are the facts according to nutritional authorities in Okinawa and Japan:
1)The Okinawa diet itself (1998) contained 31% total energy from fat, 52.9% carbohydrate and 16% protein (Japan National Nutrition Survey 1998). Compared to mainland Japan this is higher in fat (26.3% vs 31%) but compared to America it is still lower. (According to USDA Food Consumption Surveys total fat intake has fallen from 40% to 33% between 1977 and 1994).
2)Total Fat is NOT really that much of an issue as there are �ggood fats�h and �gbad fats�h . As Dr. Walter Willet�fs (Harvard University) 1994 article in Science titled:�hWhat Should We Eat?�h shows, the 1960�fs Greeks consumed even more fat (40% total) than we do now in Okinawa, but still had low cardiovascular mortality because they were consuming the �ggood fats�h (ie.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A big stir over little that's new April 17 2003
By A Customer
The recommendations of the Okinwa Program repeat information that has been available for a long time. The benefits of low-fat, low-calorie diets, exercise, and reducing stress are well known. This is just one more book for the already overloaded shelf of self-help books. It might be interesting to compare life-expectancy of Okinawans BEFORE World War II with this data, as it necessarily excludes members of the same generation who died of malnutrition, illness, accident, or war-time incidents before that time.
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1.0 out of 5 stars The Hidden Agenda March 17 2002
One of the major "findings" in this book was that Okinawans consumed very little saturated fat (meaning fat containing saturated fatty acid [SFA]), and this was supposed to be a major benefit. The main oil used in cooking was said to be canola oil. Since canola oil is a recent invention, becoming common only in the last 20 years in Canada and the USA, it could hardly have been a benefit to Okinawans who are now very old.
My co-workers at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Mignon S. Adams and David C. Geliebter, spent a month in Okinawa recently, with special attention on food. They did not see any canola oil in use. The common oils were peanut (16% SFA), soybean (15% SFA), rapeseed (1% SFA) and lard (44% SFA). Data are mostly from Mary C. Enig, Know Your Fats, Bethesda Press, 2000.
The Okinawans also eat significant amounts of pork and moderate amounts of chicken, both of which contain considerable SFAs. There is no unbiased evidence that SFAs are unhealthful (Taubes G, Science 2001:291:2536-2545).
This was confirmed by Stephen C. Byrnes, who lives in Honolulu, HI, and has friends raised in Okinawa. They ate fish, rice and vegetables, but pork and lard "...have always been the mainstay of this people's diet". Sally Fallon and Mary C. Enig quoted an Okinawan professor who wrote that the Okinawan diet was "greasy and good".
The glycemic index table was incomplete, missing all the good foods that have very low glycemic indices that diabetics can eat, such as nuts, cheese, fats, oils, and meat. Diabetics have been punished for decades by being handed tables such as this where they might assume that foods not included should not be eaten.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A Trip into Fantasy Land Feb. 22 2002
This book claims to be an accurate presentation of the "Okinawan Diet," but the elements of that supposed diet are a far cry from reality. I live in Hawaii where there is a large Okinawan community (including first, second, third, etc., generations) and I have many friends who were raised in Okinawa. Believe me: Their diet is anything but "low-fat" as this book claims.
Okinawans are known for their preference for fatty pork and they principally use lard in their cooking--nothing low fat here I can assure you. They do eat vegetables, rice, fish, and those delicious purple potatoes, but the mainstay of Okinawan cuisine is pork.
This book is simply a politically correct re-writing of the actual evidence done by the Spin Doctors of modern nutrition. You're better off getting Fallon & Enig's book "Nourishing Traditions," or Allan and Lutz' book "Life Without Bread."
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1.0 out of 5 stars Their menus TOTALLY contradict their research May 31 2001
By A Customer
The authors write that each day, the average Okinawan eats seven servings of fruits and vegetables, seven servings of grains, and two servings of tofu. Fish is eaten two or three times per week. During the first week, the "Everlasting Health" menu includes 5 servings of fish, 7 servings of poultry, pork, beef, and 12 servings of dairy. ...
Okinawans eat just two-three servings of fish each week, and little or no milk, dairy or meat. Midway through the book, a the authors include a mention of Okinawan "power foods" containing protective phytochemicals. This list of antioxidant-rich foods includes tofu, miso, carrots, tea, goya melon, konbu (dried kelp), cabbage, nori (dried seaweed), bean sprouts, raw soybeans, sweet potatoes, and peppers. Unfortunately, the authors did not have the vision or the culinary expertise to include these foods in their "Four Weeks to Everlasting Health" diet.
With diet, it's not what you eat, but what you don't eat that becomes the critical factor towards achieving and maintaining good health.
Seems to me that the authors missed the critical points of their important work and their conclusions, based upon their suggested menus are less than pathetic.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Ouvrage tel que décrit
Le livre correspond à la description qui était faite mais la livraison a quand même pris presque 3 semaines de calendrier.
Published 17 months ago by Bernard Dugas
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, but You Need Something Else
Good book. I recommend it. But you need something more for it to work. Something else to get you on and stay on such a diet. Read more
Published on May 21 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Okinawa food come from China
Okinawa was a part of China, before Japan occupied. So, their food basically Chinese food. Therefore, they live longer than Japanese.
Published on May 15 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Okinawa secret
The secret of Okinawan longevity, of course, is that
they practice caloric restriction. There is nothing mystical
about their diet other than it being many fewer... Read more
Published on March 20 2004 by Stuart Cracraft
5.0 out of 5 stars Medical Magic
This book is incredible. It always amazed me that so many people in a country like ours, with the latest medical technology, are so sickly and have so many ongoing, chronic health... Read more
Published on Dec 4 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Overall Book on Diet and Health
I read the review by John Granger on August 19, 2003 called "Good Program but Not Okinawan". Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2003 by jeffry smythe
1.0 out of 5 stars Good Program But Not Okinawan
I lived in Okinawa for four years and have studied nutrition and worked as a dietary counselor for fifteen years. Read more
Published on Aug. 19 2003 by John Granger
3.0 out of 5 stars The secrets of longevity unveiled?
I have often read journalistic accounts of centenarians from different parts of the world - Central Asia, Andes, and other places. Read more
Published on July 21 2003 by Govindan Nair
5.0 out of 5 stars Top book on nutrition, aging and health in America
The Okinawa Program is the leading book on healthy aging in America (What's America Reading? Barnes and Noble, 2002) and was nominated for Best Wellness Book of 2001 by a panel of... Read more
Published on June 14 2003 by An informed reviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars The best way to age gracefully
This is not just a book about diet. It is also about sports, lifestyle, spirituality, attitude, family and community support. The Okinawans do everything we do not. Read more
Published on June 11 2003 by Gaetan Lion
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