Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




The Truth About STRESS


Beauty and health

I would like to introduce a documentary program "The Truth About STRESS" by Blink Films, UK, broadcasted by NHK educational television the other day.


Experts believe stress can contribute to life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, dementia and types of cancer - and the pressures of 24/7 modern-day life are often held to blame. In this program Fiona Phillips explores some of the very latest scientific research behind stress, and demonstrates a number of techniques designed to decrease common stress factors.The familiar secrets of how to cope with stress are food, exercise and mindfulness that you can incorporate into daily life. Mindfulness is a technique that has a root in meditation, aware of where you are, what you are doing, and acceptance of reality.


A psychologist who appeared in the program says: "We cannot exceed our own self images. The way we see us so comes reality. But we can always control our mind set defines performance. Stress can be very positive and stress can drive success. All depends on how we see it." 


If you can make a simple life style change to stop stress level spiking necessarily during the day would be better. For example, eating almonds and walnuts are recommended. Both are good source of protein and help stabilize blood sugar. Walnuts contain omega-3 fat and are very good to brain, when you feel anxious as well.


Too much caffeine can causing insomnia, nervousness, increase in cardiac rate. Green tea contains L-Theanine, an amino acid and it helps your concentration and you feel calm. So, green tea is recommended as coffee alternative.


Don't skip breakfast and keep hydrated. If you skip breakfast, your body will increase cortisol to raise blood sugar. Dehydration keeps your body under more stress.


After all, stress is perfectly natural response to everyday situations.
The program concluded that if you use advantage of stress with a healthy diet, appropriate exercises and mindfulness, there is nothing to worry about. (H.S)


Increase basal metabolism by high percentage cacao chocolate 


Beauty and health

After watching NHK's morning show last year, I started to eat high percentage cacao chocolate. In the show that day, the theme was how to increase basal metabolism, and they introduced that in order to increase basal metabolism, it is important to improve liver function. According to a liver specialist who appeared in the show, unexpectedly, you should eat high percentage cacao chocolate to improve liver function. Because high percentage cacao chocolate contains remarkably more polyphenol than any other food, and its anti-oxidizing effect protects liver from active oxygen.


He recommended that you should eat 25 grams per day.


Also, high percentage cacao chocolate not only increases liver function but also increases good cholesterol and decreases bad cholesterol. Come to think of it, I have heard that cacao was useful as a medicine in the past. If you feel that your basal metabolism drops or have a high bad cholesterol level, it might be worth trying out. (H.S)


I eat 86 percent cacao chocolate but even 72 percent one is also effective.


For detailed information, read here by Meiji Co., Ltd.

Miraculous plant-Choumeisou of Yonaguni Island, Okinawa


Beauty and health

Among Okinawan vegetables and plants, there are many healthy ones.
I guess that a representative example is Goya.
I grow Goya in the yard and eat it almost every day in summer.


Also, there is a plant called Gettou in Okinawa,
I like the fragrance, so when I go to Okinawa, I buy Gettou soaps and teas.
For your information, it is said that Gettou contains polyphenol 34 times as much as red wine.


Gettou (From Wikipedia)


Today I will introduce Choumeisou of Yanaguni Island, Okinawa Prefecture.
Speaking of Yonaguni Island, it is the nation’s westernmost island.
If you go to the “Monument of westernmost of Japan”, Taiwan is only about 111 km away from there. I have heard that you can see row of mountains of Taiwan on sunny days.


I have never been to the Yonaguni Island but I would love to go to the island one day.
The island is well known as the location of a TV drama “Dr. Koto’s clinic”. The set for
the drama has been preserved and you can watch inside.


Choumeisou is an apiaceous plant, which grows naturally in the Yonaguni Island.
Because it is very nutritious, it is called power vegetable.
Choumeisou grows in a harsh environment that is exposed to the strong sun and salty wind, and in soil of Ryukyu limestone containing rich minerals. So, Choumeisou contains polyphenol, vitamin, mineral and dietary fiber with balance.


Choumeisou grows in Yonaguni Island
(From Shiseido Choumeisou Brand Special Site


I had been interested in Choumeisou and I bought Shiseido’s powdered one.
I mixed with Japanese tea and started to drink it. It is easy to drink like green tea.
On a review site, users left comments such as ‘improved the environment inside the intestines’ ‘improved blood circulation’ ‘face became smaller’ ’the appearance of one’s pores became smaller’ ‘prevents skin roughness’ ‘made hair glow’ ‘prevents pimples’. So there is beauty effect unexpectedly. I think I will continue to take the Choumeisou for some time. (H.S)



The secret of inspiration and memory


Beauty and health

NHK special “Human body” series were broadcasted from last year to this year.
Among them, I was particularly fascinated by the feature on “brain”.


The hosts were Mr. Shinya Yamanaka and Tamori.


The first is ‘inspiration’.
How can one become a condition to have an inspiration?
Unexpectedly, for that purpose, you may want to think of nothing in particular.
Such a resting-state is called “Default mode network” and as a matter of fact,
even at the time, brain spends 70 percent of its energy.
It’s considered that, while you are thinking of nothing, your brain pieces splinters of memory together freely and creates new ideas.


Importance of thinking of nothing in particular, which is said that it is a drastic paradigm shift for brain science.
In fact, Shinya Yamanaka had a sudden idea while he was taking a shower vacantly and the idea led to iPS cells in later years.


However, to piece splinters of memory together, it is necessary to store memory strong.
Then, what can we do to develop our memory?


Actually, to do that, anyone can do it easily, too.
The key is in message substance from all organs and it’s important to keep a balanced diet.
Also, it’s necessary to develop muscle through moderate exercise. It is said that brain has evolved to insulin secreted when human take food would lead to improve memory.
Yamanaka said that indeed, food is necessary for survival, so that may makes sense.


After watching the program, I learned anew that not only concentrating but sometimes being vacant and moderate exercise, not drinking and not eating too much are important. (H.S)

NHK “Super Presentation” - The secret to living longer may be your social life -


Beauty and health

NHK Education TV program “Super Presentation” introduces selected presentations from TED Conference. I also sometimes watch it if I am interested in the subject.


In the last week’s program, the presentation “The secret to living longer may be your social life” by a developmental psychologist, Susan Pinker, was introduced. The keyword is “Blue Zones”, which means the five areas where people live statistically longest. By the way,
there is a Blue Zone in Japan, too. It is Okinawa. The term “Blue Zones” appeared by National Geographic magazine in 2005. But now, unfortunately, the average longevity of Okinawa residents is decreasing.


Susan Pinker (Photo from the official website of NHK “Super Presentation”)


A Blue Zone, Sardinia, Italy, where there are 6 times as many centenarians as the Italian mainland. There are 10 times as many centenarians as there are in North America.
According to Susan Pinker, it is regardless of their nature optimistic or food and it is because their relationships with other people are close and they often meet people in person.


Also, in the presentation, there was the following data, which was very interesting.
[What reduces your chances of dying the most?]
*Going from the least powerful predictor to the strongest.
10.Clean Air         
9.Hypertension Rx      
8.Lean vs. Overweight 
6.Cardiac Rehab
5.Flu Vaccine  
4.Quit Boozing           
3.Quit Smoking
2.Close Relationships  
1.Social Integration


I didn’t expect that having a flu vaccine protects you more than doing exercise. And, the strongest predictor is social integration. This means how much you interact with people.
But it’s not the same thing as interacting through text or via social media. Face-to-face contact releases a whole cascade of neurotransmitters, and like a vaccine, they protect you now in the present and well into the future.


That means loneliness may be a great enemy to live a long life.
This face-to-face contact provides stunning benefits, yet now almost a quarter of the population says they have no one to talk to. Speaking of loneliness, I heard that Britain's prime minister announced the country will appoint a minister of loneliness the other day.


The power of such face-to-face contact is really why there are the lowest rates of dementia among people who are socially engaged, bolsters the immune system and helps us live longer. Therefore, Japan also should be serious about such issues. (H.S)