Dan Buettner, Expedition Leader: In America we're taught that prosperity is a blessing, but here in Okinawa it's not so clear. At the beginning of the century things were tough, people survived mostly off sweet potatoes and fish. World War II changed all that. After years of difficulty, American troops came in and treated Okinawans to rations. Canned meat was introduced into the diet here. They seized this with great exuberance. Now fast food pervades the culture here.
Still a culture of longevity endures here, much of it is found in people over age 70, people who continue to live the traditional lifestyle. For the past two weeks we've taken a hard look at that lifestyle and tried to distill a recipe, a longevity recipe that Americans can live by.
With the help of the online audience, we've ranked the top seven secrets of the Okinawan longevity formula. They include surrounding yourself with family and friends, living with your parents and grandparents, exploring your faith and spirituality, getting daily exercise, eating a rainbow of colors, finding a sense of purpose, and simply getting married. These are the factors that seem to explain the Okinawans extra seven years of good life.
Along with secrets of longevity, Okinawans have left us with powerful images, images our photographer Gianluca caught with his camera.
Life expectancy in America has been going up steadily for the past 150 years. The bad news is for the first time in modern history our children are likely to live shorter lives than we do. Recently the New England Journal of Medicine reported that life expectancy in America will actually drop. The culprit? Childhood obesity and the diseases that manifest themselves in middle ages. The good news is that there are lifestyles out there we can emulate, lifestyles that can give us more years of good life. Our experience in Okinawa taught us to look to tradition to illuminate a path into the future. The sooner we take action the better. Live large.