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The Okinawa Program : How the World's Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health--And How You Can Too Paperback – March 12, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (March 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609807501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609807507
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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318 of 337 people found the following review helpful By Keiko Yasuda on October 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a response to Owl's review of Sept 9, 2001. First let me say that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Second, I am a Japanese woman from Tokyo who also lived in Okinawa for several years but I have a very different opinion from Owl. I studied anthropology and wrote my thesis on Okinawan culture so I feel that I have some qualification to comment on The Okinawa Program both as a general prescriptive, self-help book and a scientific work. I can also offer you my interpretation of Okinawa and its culture.

Owl (the Sept 9, 2001 reviewer) sounds like so many other self-proclaimed "experts" on Okinawan culture from abroad. Typically they live in Okinawa 1-3 years (as did Owl), learn very little of the culture (including the language, customs, history), interact on only a superficial basis with the locals, and sometimes learn a little karate. When they leave they consider themselves cultural experts and gurus (his correspondence from a "remote mountain village" in Japan suggests that this applies in his case).

I believe that the Okinawa Program gives a realistic, intriguing account of Okinawan life and culture and valuable "hands-on" health advice. It has hundreds of scientific references so is hardly what I would call "superficial". In fact, the text itself is referenced, so that one can verify all the statements the authors make. This is rare for books written by scientists for a lay audience and I think that helps to explain its appeal to both the lay audience and the scientist. ... .
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By S. Mineart on May 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The book contains careful analysis of what goes wrong with the Western diet/lifestyle as well as what's healthy and significant about the Okinawans, which was the wake-up call I needed to truly understand what my eating habits were doing to me. I *thought* my diet was pretty decent, until I started reading about trans-fatty acids and how the body processes food, especially meat. I was certainly doing wrong thing, and the "diet" foods I was choosing were doing me more harm than good.
The book lists lots of foods/recipes that are good for you, and I discovered that things I thought I would hate, like soy products, can be darned tasty, and there are a lot more healthy foods out there in the grocery store than I ever realized; I'm not going to get bored with my new eating habits.
Granted I've only been following the book for a few weeks, and my main change has been in diet/eating habits (spirituality and & physical exercise are also covered in the book extensively), but I can feel a real difference, and not just in my weight, but in mental alertness, and lowered stress levels and increased energy.
I'm looking forward to incorporating more of the ideas of this book into my daily life.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book has already made some changes in my eating habits, and I thought I was doing fairly well before. I agree with all the positive comments already made, so I won't add much to that, expect to say that I think, for me, the unique aspect of this book was that it gave a clear picture of people who were doing it right, and living long healthy lives as a result. Most books tell you what you should do, and that's helpful, but a wholistic picture like this spurs more enthusiasm, and somehow makes it easier to actually do it. My main reason for adding my review is that some recent reviewers seem to have looked at the menus without realizing the implications of the fact that these menus are intended to wean one away from our present unhealthy diet. So of course the first week looks out of keeping with the Okinawa findings, esp. in the Americanized version. But if you look at week four, and at the Eastern version in particular, you will see a lot of Asian foods, and mighty little of our bad habits, if any. (Also, you have to read the recipes--their "scrambled eggs" dish has no actual eggs, for example.) Seems to me their week four menus are very much in keeping with the findings of the book, and if we all started eating like week four, Western or Eastern version, health stats in the US would start looking a LOT better. I hope the authors someday put together a whole cookbook.!
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