Superfoods of Okinawa: Turmeric, Sweet Potato, and Seaweed Have Calorie Restriction Mimicking Effects
BySarah Axtell, ND •March 30, 2022
It is well established that calorie restriction can slow the aging process. When we digest food, calories are converted into energy within the mitochondria of our cells. A by-product of this process is free radical production. Excess free radicals in the body can damage proteins, DNA, and fatty tissue, leading to heart disease, dementia, cancer, and wrinkles.
Some species produce less free radicals under calorie restriction.
Okinawa, Japan is perhaps the best human example of a naturally calorically restricted population. In Okinawa, (a Blue Zone, or “hotspot of longevity”), calorie restriction is thought to play a key factor in their long life span. In addition to calorie restriction, their regular consumption of turmeric, sweet potato, and seaweed may also play a role. These super-foods have been shown to have calorie-restriction mimicking effects. Turmeric, sweet potatoes, and seaweed are considered “calorie restriction mimetics,” meaning they provide the physiological benefit of calorie restriction without the need for restriction of calories. These foods are high in antioxidants, helping to scavenge free radicals and thus preventing oxidative damage associated with aging.
Calorie restriction can slow the metabolism, causing fatigue in some individuals and excess hunger. I like the idea of eating more turmeric, sweet potatoes, and seaweed to get a similar effect!
For more lessons on the Blue Zones and longevity, join me for my upcoming Blue Zone workshop on Saturday, May 14. It will be both in-person (limited spots!) and virtual. Call the office at 414-939-8748 to sign up today!
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.