What is the Real Longevity Diet of the Okinawan Centenarians? – An Interview with Craig Willcox, PhD

The Okinawan Diet is the foundation for the longevity of the Okinawan elders and this interview specifically focuses on the foods consumed (past and current) by the elders (centenarians) by interviewing one of the principle investigators of the Okinawan Centenarian Study currently working and residing in Okinawa Dr. Craig Willcox.

Dr. Craig Willcox, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and gerontologist and co-author, along with his brother Dr. Bradley Willcox, an internist and gerontologist, and Dr. Makoto Suzuki, a cardiologist of ”The Okinawa Program (2001)” and “The Okinawa Diet Plan (2004)”. Dr. Willcox shares what the Okinawan Centenarian Study is about and what the real longevity diet of the Okinawan elders (centenarians) is.  Dr. Willcox, along with his brother, have also been co-investigators in Okinawan Centenarian Study since 1994 and now are the principle investigators. The study was started by Dr. Suzuki in the mid 1970s and has been funded by the Japanese government(and other organizations). The study is now ongoing past 40 years and when started there were a few dozen centenarians in Okinawa. Now there is more than 1000 centenarians in Okinawa and more than 61,000 in all of Japan. Okinawa still has per capita the largest amount of centenarians in the world.

The Okinawan Centenarians provide the real answer to health care reform by delaying and preventing the chronic diseases of aging which plague industrialized countries by their unique lifestyle. While there are multiple aspects to the longevity of the Okinawan elders (diet, exercise, spirituality/stress reduction, social support, health care system), diet is the foundation of their success and the topic discussed in this interview. Topics discussed are the the Centenarians (elders) consumption of animal foods, dairy products, carbohydrates (types), vegetables, fruit, seaweed, grains, sweat potato, fruit, beans, soy, the use of oils, nuts, seeds, spices, and sugar and the changes that are occurring in the Okinawan elders diets with the changing times.

Healthy aging diets other than the Mediterranean: a focus on the Okinawan diet. Willcox DC, Scapagnini G, Willcox BJ. Mech Ageing Dev. 2014 Mar-Apr;136-137:148-62.

Caloric restriction, caloric restriction mimetics, and healthy aging in Okinawa: controversies and clinical implications. Willcox BJ, Willcox DC. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2014 Jan;17(1):51-8

Craig Willcox, PhD, Okinawa International University, Department of Human Welfare, 2-6-1 Ginowan, Okinawa 901-2701, Japan; Department of Geriatric Medicine, University of Hawaii, HPM-9, 347 N. Kuakini Street, Honolulu, HI 96817, United States; Department of Research, Kuakini Medical Center, 347 N. Kuakini Street, Honolulu, HI 96817, United States. Electronic address: willcox@hawaii.edu; d.willcox@okiu.ac.jp

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Be and Stay Well,


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