Shall we call the "Okinawa Program" the okey-dokey diet, or
the oki-dopey diet?
Two weeks ago, I wrote about a book review that I had read
in the New York Times, reporting that the longest-lived
people in the world, the Okinawans, owed their great health
and longevity to their diets.
Life expectancy for the average woman living on Okinawa
exceeds 86 years.
I finally got around to buying a copy of "The Okinawa
Program" by Bradley Willcox, M.D., Makoto Suzuki, M.D., and
Craig Willcox, Ph.D. The authors never do get around to
telling the reader the specific varieties and exact amounts
of foods Okinawans actually do eat, which was a major
disappointment to this reader. (Similar data are available
for the average American diet).
The authors write that each day, the average Okinawan eats
seven servings of fruits and vegetables, seven servings of
grains, and two servings of tofu. Fish is eaten two or three
times per week.
After three hundred pages of reading about the Okinawa way,
the authors turn a halfway decent study into a typical
Atkins-style menu book.
Chapter Ten is titled "Four Weeks to Everlasting Health,"
and the day-by-day menus contradict everything the authors
may have learned, and their cumulative lack of wisdom makes
me sick to my stomach.
On the first day, the good doctors would have you eat
toasted waffles with maple syrup, bagels with cream cheese,
and vanilla ice cream. On day 2, they add yogurt to their
dairy-laced menu. What's with these guys? Before the week
ends, one is eating skim milk, Manhattan clam chowder,
Caesar salad, potatoes with sour cream, and creamed peaches.
During that first week, the "Everlasting Health" menu
includes 5 servings of fish, 7 servings of poultry, pork,
beef, and 12 servings of dairy. Okinawins would gag at this
Okinawans eat just two-three servings of fish each week, and
little or no milk, dairy or meat.
Midway through the book, a the authors include a mention of
Okinawan "power foods" containing protective phytochemicals.
This list of antioxidant-rich foods includes tofu, miso,
carrots, tea, goya melon, konbu (dried kelp), cabbage, nori
(dried seaweed), bean sprouts, raw soybeans, sweet potatoes,
and peppers. Unfortunately, the authors did not have the
vision or the culinary expertise to include these foods in
their "Four Weeks to Everlasting Health" diet.
With diet, it's not what you eat, but what you don't eat
that becomes the critical factor towards achieving and
maintaining good health.
Seems to me that the authors missed the critical points of
their important work and their conclusions, based upon their
suggested menus are less than pathetic.