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The Okinawa Program: How the World's Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health -- and How You Can Too

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There is nothing more universal than the desire to slow down the aging process, to live a long, full life with health, energy, and independence. The Okinawa Program presents the first evidence-based program to make this possible. Authored by a team of preeminent medical and scientific experts, this breakthrough book documents the diet, exercise, and lifestyle practices of the world's healthiest, longest-lived people and reveals how readers can apply these practices to their own ...
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New York, NY 2001 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Book is New! Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 496 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade.

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NY 2001 Hard cover First edition. Illustrated., 1st Printing New in fine dust jacket. AN/NF(spine ends ltly creased, 1 tip chipped) 8vo. 484pp. Maps, Recipes, Resources, ... References, General Index, Recipe Index. Read more Show Less

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Overview

There is nothing more universal than the desire to slow down the aging process, to live a long, full life with health, energy, and independence. The Okinawa Program presents the first evidence-based program to make this possible. Authored by a team of preeminent medical and scientific experts, this breakthrough book documents the diet, exercise, and lifestyle practices of the world's healthiest, longest-lived people and reveals how readers can apply these practices to their own lives.

In Okinawa, the occurrence of heart disease is only one fifth that of American levels. The rate of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers is less than a quarter of American levels. And the number of centenarians per hundred thousand is six times that of the United States. Most important, Okinawans have the world's longest disability-free life expectancy.

Concluding a long-term, collaborative scientific study, The Okinawa Program clearly and expertly explains the reasons for this remarkable successful aging phenomenon. With a realistic four-week Turnaround Plan for diet, fitness, and psychological well-being, this book offers nearly one hundred easy, fast, and delicious recipes, as well as a moderate exercise routine derived from the former island kingdom's unique martial arts. The authors introduce the cognitive and spiritual practices that have emerged as crucial to the overall health of Okinawan elders and also include resources and an extensive reference section for further information.

Accessible, authoritative, and comprehensive, The Okinawa Program can help readers minimize their risk for heart disease, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's disease, as well as maintain healthy body weight, reduce stress, and develop more satisfying personal relationships. The Okinawa Program is a life-changing guide to increased health and youthful vigor -- at any age.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Likened to a real-life Shangri-la, Okinawa -- made up of 161 islands in the East China Sea -- is a bastion of wellness, where people retain the physical vitality and mental acuity of their youth well into their second century. With this illuminating and life-changing book, the authors reveal the results of 25 years of thorough research and study into the Okinawans and their immensely healthful lifestyle.

Readers will be pleased to discover that the Okinawans are not the beneficiaries of a fountain of youth; as the book documents, their lifelong good health is due to a lifestyle based on a low-calorie, plant-based diet; filled with activities like dancing, gardening, and practicing martial arts; and enriched by spirituality and family and community relationships. These factors, as well as a successful integration of Eastern and Western medical practices, contribute to a unique population with a remarkable concentration of centenarians (33 per 100,000), the world's highest life expectancy (80.6 years) and the lowest occurrences of coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Bradley and Craig Willcox, along with Makoto Suzuki, relate their amazing findings in a friendly, easy style that will involve readers not only in their medical research -- meticulously supported by concrete evidence -- but also in their delightful experiences with the people of Okinawa. Foremost in the program they set forth is an emphasis on quality of life; ironically it is the quality of life enjoyed by Okinawans, not simply their longevity, that will be most attractive to readers. To achieve similar results, the book recommends stress relief techniques, exercise practices, and a complete four-week plan that includes recipes. My favorite features were the questionnaire to help readers determine how closely their lifestyle measures up to "Okinawa time" and the appendix listing must-have medical tests, important vitamins, and even directions for preparing a healthy Okinawan diet.

In a time when gene studies aim to predict which diseases we are likely to be stricken with or to determine a child's health prospects before birth, this book conveys a significant message: Good health is the result of more than just good genes, and bad genes need not prevent someone from living long and well. (Karen Burns)

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780609607473
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/1/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.49 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Bradley J. Willcox, M.D., M.Sc., trained in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic and is a geriatrics fellow in the Division on Aging, Harvard Medical School. He is also a resident scholar at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan, and co-investigator of the Okinawa Centenarian Study.

D. Craig Willcox, Ph.D., is a medical anthropologist and gerontologist. He is Assistant Professor at Okinawa Prefectural University -- College of

Nursing and co-investigator of the Okinawa Centenarian Study. The Willcoxes are identical twins.

Makoto Suzuki, M.D., Ph.D., is a cardiologist and geriatrician. He is Professor Emeritus of Community Medicine at the University of the Ryukyus and Professor and Chair, Department of Gerontology, Okinawa International University. He is principal investigator of the Okinawa Centenarian Study, a Japanese Ministry of Health -- sponsored study of the world's healthiest and longest-lived people.

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Read an Excerpt

FOREWORD by Andrew Weil, M.D.

Everyone wants to know how to live as long as possible and how to have the good health to enjoy it. Whenever we meet especially long-lived individuals, wt always ask about their secrets of longevity and healthy aging, unfortunately, the answers they give are totally inconsistent, from daily walks to daily cigars.
We are also fascinated by reports of societies in remote parts of the earth that boast of unusual numbers of healthy old people. Most of the reports turn out to be groundless. One that may not concerns the islands of Okinawa, formerly the Kingdom of the Ryukyus, now a prefecture of Japan. In the West, Okinawa is known as the only Japanese home territory on which the Second World War was fought -- the battle of Okinawa was one of the longest and bloodiest of the war -- and as the site of American military bases. Okinawans, particu1arly older Okinawans, have experienced unusual social turmoil in their lives. Nonetheless there are more centenarians there than anywhere else in the world, and the Okinawan population enjoys much greater health and longevity than other Japanese. And the Japanese have the best health and greatest longevity on the planet. Moreover, thanks to meticulous keeping of birth and health records in the islands, there is no doubt about the veracity of claims to longevity, as there is in other regions that have been promoted as conducive to long life.
The fundamental question to be asked about this population is how much of the good health and longevity is genetic and how much is environmental. It is impossible to answer it definitively, but I am inclined to think Genetic factors are not the major cause. I say thatbecause research on aging is generally demonstrating the overwhelming influence of such lifestyle factors as regular physical activity and social connectedness. Also younger Okinawans, who are abandoning traditional ways in favor of those of contemporary Japan and America, are beginning to show the expected declines in health and growing incidence of Western disease.
I have made many trips to Japan over the past forty years, but I have been to Okinawa only once, in November of 1999, when I went to the main island to lecture, meet local shamans and healthy oldsters, and get a little sense of cultural, especially dietary, differences from the rest of Japan. On that occasion I met the authors of this book and first learned about their research
project on successful aging. My experiences during that brief visit left me eager to return, to see more of the islands and its remarkable people, and to learn more about what Drs. Willcox and Suzuki call "the Okinawa way to everlasting health."
At first meeting Okinawans seem different -- both from Westerners and from other Japanese. They look different, have quite different customs, and eat very different foods, including a great deal of bitter melon and turmeric tea, for example. But, as you will learn in this scientifically factual and highly readable book, the general principles of living the Okinawa way are not foreign. Indeed, they are highly accessible to everyone and quite consistent with the latest medical research on healthy lifestyles and healthy aging. They include getting lifelong, regular physical activity, eating a mostly plant-based diet that includes fish and soy foods with a great variety of vegetables and moderate amounts of the right kinds of fat, and enjoying strong social and community support as well as a sense of independence and self-responsibility for health.
This book is not about magic potions or age-erasing supplements. It is a realistic, very thorough look at a remarkable society that has mostly escaped notice by Western medical researchers. I congratulate the authors on doing such an excellent job of introducing the health-promoting culture of Okinawa to Western readers. I look forward to learning about more of the findings of their ongoing research. In reading the book, I was happy to discover that I already practice many of the Okinawans' "secrets" of health and longevity. I am highly motivated to include more of them in my own life.

Tucson, Arizona
January 2001

Copyright 2001 by Bradley J. Willcox, M.D., D. Craig Willcox, Ph.D., Makoto Suzuki, M.D.
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Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Chapter 1 Okinawa--The Real Shangri-La 1
Chapter 2 A Twenty-Five-Year Study 11
Chapter 3 The Healthiest Diet In The World 68
Chapter 4 Eating The Okinawa Way 114
Chapter 5 Okinawa's Healing Herbs And Foods 146
Chapter 6 Lean And Fit 179
Chapter 7 Healing Spirits 207
Chapter 8 Okinawa Time: Life Rhythms, Stress, And Aging 235
Chapter 9 The Healing Web 278
Chapter 10 Four Weeks To Everlasting Health 296
Chapter 11 Everlasting Health Is Within Your Grasp 326
Chapter 12 Recipes For The Okinawa Program 332
Appendix A Additional Information 401
Appendix B Resources 418
References 423
General Index 470
Recipe Index 483
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Foreword

Foreword by Andrew Weil, M.D.

Everyone wants to know how to live as long as possible and how to have the good health to enjoy it. Whenever we meet especially long-lived individuals, we always ask about their secrets of longevity and healthy aging, unfortunately, the answers they give are totally inconsistent, from daily walks to daily cigars.

We are also fascinated by reports of societies in remote parts of the earth that boast of unusual numbers of healthy old people. Most of the reports turn out to be groundless. One that may not concerns the islands of Okinawa, formerly the Kingdom of the Ryukyus, now a prefecture of Japan. In the West, Okinawa is known as the only Japanese home territory on which the Second World War was fought -- the battle of Okinawa was one of the longest and bloodiest of the war -- and as the site of American military bases. Okinawans, particu1arly older Okinawans, have experienced unusual social turmoil in their lives. Nonetheless there are more centenarians there than anywhere else in the world, and the Okinawan population enjoys much greater health and longevity than other Japanese. And the Japanese have the best health and greatest longevity on the planet. Moreover, thanks to meticulous keeping of birth and health records in the islands, there is no doubt about the veracity of claims to longevity, as there is in other regions that have been promoted as conducive to long life.

The fundamental question to be asked about this population is how much of the good health and longevity is genetic and how much is environmental. It is impossible to answer it definitively, but I am inclined to think genetic factors are not the major cause. I say that because research on aging is generally demonstrating the overwhelming influence of such lifestyle factors as regular physical activity and social connectedness. Also younger Okinawans, who are abandoning traditional ways in favor of those of contemporary Japan and America, are beginning to show the expected declines in health and growing incidence of Western disease.

I have made many trips to Japan over the past forty years, but I have been to Okinawa only once, in November of 1999, when I went to the main island to lecture, meet local shamans and healthy oldsters, and get a little sense of cultural, especially dietary, differences from the rest of Japan. On that occasion I met the authors of this book and first learned about their research project on successful aging. My experiences during that brief visit left me eager to return, to see more of the islands and its remarkable people, and to learn more about what Drs. Willcox and Suzuki call "the Okinawa way to everlasting health."

At first meeting Okinawans seem different -- both from Westerners and from other Japanese. They look different, have quite different customs, and eat very different foods, including a great deal of bitter melon and turmeric tea, for example. But, as you will learn in this scientifically factual and highly readable book, the general principles of living the Okinawa way are not foreign. Indeed, they are highly accessible to everyone and quite consistent with the latest medical research on healthy lifestyles and healthy aging. They include getting lifelong, regular physical activity, eating a mostly plant-based diet that includes fish and soy foods with a great variety of vegetables and moderate amounts of the right kinds of fat, and enjoying strong social and community support as well as a sense of independence and self-responsibility for health.

This book is not about magic potions or age-erasing supplements. It is a realistic, very thorough look at a remarkable society that has mostly escaped notice by Western medical researchers. I congratulate the authors on doing such an excellent job of introducing the health-promoting culture of Okinawa to Western readers. I look forward to learning about more of the findings of their ongoing research. In reading the book, I was happy to discover that I already practice many of the Okinawans' "secrets" of health and longevity. I am highly motivated to include more of them in my own life.

Tucson, Arizona
January 2001

Copyright ©(2001) by Bradley J. Willcox, M.D., D. Craig Willcox, Ph.D., Makoto Suzuki, M.D..

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2002

    the ONLY way I have lost weight and kept it off !!

    This is the BEST health book I have ever read and one of the nicest benefits of eating this way is the weight (mostly FAT!!) that I have lost. I have been heavy all my life. My doctor told me it was genetic and that I am "big-boned" (whatever that means)and that I should just be happy with my weight but I just couldn't accept that. I tried the Atkins Diet and lost 20 pounds but I felt weak, tired and cranky and nearly bit my husband's head off on several occasions. I cried when I gained every pound back within 2 weeks, when I went off the Atkin's diet, it was SO discouraging. I have tried EVERY diet you can think of, from low fat to low carb but nothing seemed to work until I found the Okinawa Program. The best thing was that I didn't feel hungry or deprived despite eating fewer calories and I feel and look so much better. Even cellulite from my thighs has disappeared and that has NEVER happened for me before. Perhaps even better is that I have kept the weight off for 6 months now and there seems to be a stronger bond between my husband, my family and me. I think it's because I FINALLY FEEL GOOD ABOUT MYSELF! My doctor could not believe it when he saw how I look now and is now recommending the Okinawa Program to ALL his patients. THANK YOU DRS. WILLCOX AND SUZUKI!! YOU HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE!!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2001

    Interesting

    The Okinawa Program is based on twenty-five years of study into genetics and disease. Eastern cultures are ahead of us when it comes to the science of longevity. Okinawans have fewer health problems, including less heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity and osperporosis. Women also have fewer health issues resulting from their monthly cycles and menopause. The Okinawa Program is aimed at given direction to a healthier, balanced lifestyle, based on long-standing principles presented in this appealing format.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2001

    Perspectives on the Lessons of Long-Lived Healthy People in Okinawa

    The Okinawa Program deserves more than five stars for its valuable, thoughtful look at how good health can follow from a better lifestyle. This book will undoubtedly become the basis for a change in lifestyle by millions of people. Whether or not it will extend their lives and the length of the healthy period in their lives is something that only time can tell. On the other hand, anyone who follows this advice will probably feel better and have more energy. This book is based on 25 years of research by Dr. Suzuki with those who lived to be over 100 years of age in Okinawa. The Drs. Willcox joined the project in 1994, adding many more measurements and perspectives to what has become an important international research project. The physiological and psychological findings about these centenarians (aged over 100) show them to be healthy, vigorous, and largely free of common Western diseases. The book summarizes the findings, connects the findings to Western research, and outlines ways to follow what was discovered to be associated with better health. The book begins by debunking the idea that there were long-lived people in the Caucasus, Pakistan, and Ecuador with whom similar work could be done. Investigation showed in each case that there was no unusual longeveity in these communities. On the other hand, records dating from the Japanese conquest of Okinawa in 1879 make the Okinawan cases valid. The statistical findings are fascinating. Okinawans live to be over 100 at rates 3 to 7 times more often than Americans. Even more impressive is that the combined rate of heart disease, cancer, and stroke is a small fraction of the American rate. Where one woman in ten will have breast cancer in the United States, the typical Okinawan will probably not even know any one who will get that disease. Mammograms are not even needed as a health screening technique there. Yet, young Okinawans who live a different lifestyle show all the Western diseases. Okinawans who left the area and adopted the lifestyles of the places where they now live experience disease at the same rate as in those locales. The book then dives into the physiological findings. Basically, some Okinawans at 100 have young bodies showing health markers similar to a 40-60 year old in the United States. In fact, they often look 30 years younger than they are. They are physically and mentally active, and do not retire. The bulk of those over 100 still work in the same ways they did when they were younger. The book takes the major statistical differences, and looks for possible clues in the Okinawan lifestyle. The potential causes seem to relate to diet, exercise, spiritual/religious practices, social connections, and mixing Western and Eastern medicine beneficially. The authors go on to suggest changes in the diet recommendations for Americans to reflect this experience, new exercise paths, and a changed approach to lifestyle. The diet recommendations are expressed both in terms of Western-only foods and a mixture of Eastern and Western foods. There is a four week changeover program to help you move from what you do now, to a healthier alternative. As the authors point out, the study itself has some weaknesses. No one can know for sure how much each of these environmental factors contribute. Also, the genetic make-up of Okinawans could mean that results for non-Okinawans could be different. There is also no attempt to adjust for blood type (as the research cited in Live Right 4 Your Type describes). I also think there is a measurement bias towards measurements used by Western scientists looking at certain diseases. For example, I remember Dr. Dean Ornish emphasizing the importance of touching as a factor favoring good health in Love and Survival. This book makes no reference to touching, but I do recall that people in the Philippines touch more than people in any other country (with favorable results for health

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