Covid-19 and a Plant Based Diet

Okinawa, one of the blue zone regions, is highlighted due to its extreme longevity, plant-based diet, and now, the population’s resistance to COVID-19.

People in Okinawa, for example, consume a predominantly plant-based diet rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants… They also consume abundant green leafy vegetables and soy products, with minimal fat (about 6% of the total energy intake). In addition to their high life expectancy and low mortality from cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers, Okinawans have enjoyed a remarkable resistance to COVID-19 mortality. As of June 16, 2021, the COVID-19 mortality in Okinawa, Japan, was 0.08% (163 deaths out of 19,782 cases), which is one-sixteenth that of Tokyo (mortality rate 1.3%; 2183 deaths out of 167,416 cases).

Can a Plant-Based Diet Mitigate the Risk of Severe COVID-19? — https://www.bluezones.com/2022/02/can-a-plant-based-diet-mitigate-the-risk-of-severe-covid-19/#

Journal Reference: Kahleova, H., Barnard, N.D. Can a plant-based diet help mitigate Covid-19?. Eur J Clin Nutr 76, 911–912 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-022-01082-w

Plant Protein Linked to Longer Life

Plant Protein Linked to Longer Life

Link above is to NEJM Journal Watch article.

Conclusions and Relevance  In this large prospective study, higher plant protein intake was associated with lower total and CVD-related mortality. Although animal protein intake was not associated with mortality outcomes, replacement of red meat protein or processed meat protein with plant protein was associated with lower total, cancer-related, and CVD-related mortality.

JAMA Internal Medicine article (Free abstract)

Note: Study focused on Japanese adults.

Fugu or Not to Fugu?

Tetrodotoxin poisoning

  • Numbness around the mouth followed by paralysis and death by respiratory failure – the victim remaining conscious throughout
  • First recorded case found in the logs of Captain Cook in 1774, after crew members ate the fish
  • Tetrodotoxin is named after the Tetraodontiformes order of fish, which includes blowfish
  • It is also found in blue-ringed octopuses, some toads, newts and other animals

via BBC News – Dicing death: The fish more poisonous than cyanide.

I refuse to eat sushi in Oklahoma.  I doubt I’ll ever eat Fugu.

Karoshi Deaths – An Update From Japan

During the evening I received a most thoughtful and insightful comment on my karoshi post.  To give  this comment the attention it deserves, I have reproduced the entire comment below as a post.   Many thanks to Andrew Grimes and the Tokyo Counseling services for taking the time to share their knowledge and perspective.  Mr. Grimes’ comments follow.

I would like to put forward a perspective on the real reasons behind the unacceptably high suicide Japan from Japan and so will limit my comments to what I know about here in Japan but would first like to suggest that western media reports on suicide rates in Asian countries should try harder to get away from the tendency to orientalize the serious and preventable problem of increased suicide rates here over the last 10 years by reverting to stereotypical ideas of Asian people in general.

Mental health professionals in Japan have long known that the prime causes for the unnecessarily high suicide rate in Japan are unemployment, the effects of bankruptcies, and the increasing levels of stress on businessmen and other salaried workers who have suffered enormous hardship in Japan since the bursting of the stock market bubble here that peaked around 1997. Until that year Japan had an annual suicide of rate figures between 22,000 and 24,000 each year. Following the bursting of the stock market and the long term economic downturn that has followed here since the suicide rate in 1998 increased by around 35% and since 1998 the number of people killing themselves each year in Japan has consistently remained well over 30,000 each and every year to the present day.

The current worldwide recession is of course impacting Japan too, so unless very proactive and well funded local and nation wide suicide prevention programs and initiatives are immediately it is very difficult to foresee the governments previously stated intention to reduce the suicide rate to around 23,000 by the year 2016 being achievable. On the contrary the numbers, and the human suffering and the depression and misery that the people who become part of these numbers, have to endure may well stay at the current levels that have persistently been the case here for the last ten years. It could even get worse unless even more is done to prevent this terrible loss of life.

During these last ten years of these relentlessly high annual suicide rate numbers the English media seems in the main to have done little more than have someone goes through the files and do a story on the so-called suicide forest or internet suicide clubs and copycat suicides (whether cheap heating fuel like charcoal briquettes or even cheaper household cleaning chemicals) without focusing on the bigger picture and need for effective action and solutions. Economic hardship, bankruptcies and unemployment have been the main cause of suicide in Japan over the last 10 years, as the well detailed reports behind the suicide rate numbers that have been issued every year until now by the National Police Agency in Japan show only to clearly if any journalist is prepared to learn Japanese or get a bilingual researcher to do the research to get to the real heart of the tragic story of the long term and unnecessarily high suicide rate problem in Japan.

Useful telephone number for Japanese residents of Japan who speak Japanese and are feeling depressed or suicidal: Inochi no Denwa (Lifeline Telephone Service):

Japan: 0120-738-556 Tokyo: 3264 4343

Andrew Grimes

Tokyo Counseling Services

http://tokyocounseling.com/english/
http://tokyocounseling.com/jp/