Of late I’ve spent much time reading up on Longevity. Fascinated by this topic for over a decade, my bible is the well-thumbed book The Okinawa Way which details not only the diet of this island off mainland Japan, but it is a study of the life style, social connections and belief system of this long-lived population. What are their secrets to a long life?
Okinawa is sort of a Japanese Hawaii — a tranquil group of islands with temperate weather, palm trees, white beaches and famously fabulous levels of longevity. Okinawans over the age of 65 enjoy the world’s highest life expectancy: for men, 84 and for women even longer – 90. It is not all about length of life but living well into old age. The diseases that kill Americans and other Western populations are only seen in a slight proportion of cases, for example, the rate of breast and prostate cancer and the incidence of heart disease is only a fifth of what we see in the West. Dementia rates stand at around 50%.
During my Longevity workshops we consider the diet of Okinawans not only today, but more importantly I am interested in what they ate in their earlier years. All Okinawans age 100 or more who are alive today were born between 1903 and 1914. During the first third of their lives, roughly before 1940, the vast majority of the calories they consumed — almost 70 % — came from one food: the imo, or Okinawan sweet potato.
The nutrient profile of this wonderfully orange root vegetable is impressive — high in flavonoids, vitamin C, fibre, carotenoids, and slow-burning carbohydrates — it is the food which I base my Longevity Cooking workshop around. There are many ways to involve this tasty carb in our diets and we will have lots of fun making this happen.
I am running two workshops on 28th September both at the Torch Trust in Hurstpierpoint. The morning session is a private event for the blind and partially sighted. We will be drawing on the senses, indulging in some messy play (who said messy play is just for kids?) and tasting some great flavour combinations.
The evening session will be running from 7 until 9 pm. There are still tickets available from www.hurstfestival.org. £16 per ticket involves the Longevity Workshop discussion plus the creating and devouring of a light supper based on some of the foods known to be a central part of the Okinawan diet. The food will all be vegetarian and plant based. We will be prepping, cooking and talking in the kitchen of the Torch Trust then taking our supper into the conservatory to continue our discussion on Longevity.
Any more information required about the foods involved please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org