culture influence on nutrition

Culture and Its Influence on Nutrition: Why Are People So Healthy in Japan?

Throughout the world, different cultures have their originalities and peculiarities. These peculiarities are also reflected in the food and nutrition of the nation, but this cultural effect is not limited due to the globalization of the world. Cultural influence can make us stop consuming certain types of products, it all depends not only on the tastes of the people of the country or natural resources but also on different factors such as religion.

There are many countries and many nations that surprise us with their durability. Nowadays, through the studies and statistics, we can reach the conclusions that the cultural point can affect the health and durability of life. Nevertheless, some centuries ago this was related to the divine.

Japan is an example of a healthy and long-living nation. Thus, how has culture influenced nutrition and where is the mystery?


  • Japanese diet peculiarities
  • Fewer calories
  • Shoku Iku diet plan
  • Seafood every day
  • Physical activity

Japanese diet peculiarities

Japanese people eat fresh food and exclude sugar and fat from their nutrition. This country has the lowest levels of age-related diseases. Rice and vegetables are an “ought to” food in the diet. Japan consists of thousands of islands which gives this country an abundance of fish resources. They eat pickled vegetables and consume soya beans. Fermented food is highly used in Japan. It is proven that fermented food helps to have a healthy digestive system.

Fewer calories

If you have ever eaten at a Japanese restaurant or been to Japan you should have noticed the shape of the plates. Portions are small, including one single food in it. It is a good technique to consume fewer calories.

Japanese eat at home a lot and even if they eat out they prefer homemade Japanese food to the western diet. They consume nearly 800-1000 kcal less than an average American.

The Japanese diet consists of a wide variety of dishes which makes it easy to combine and balance the calories.

Shoku Iku diet plan

The philosophy of the Shoku Iku diet is to stimulate all 5 senses. From the very childhood, Japanese children are taught that heavy food should be fought by light food. This doctrine is the basis of the diet plan.

The uniqueness of the Shoku Iku diet is to consider the food pyramid and make several types of food at once. Some of the ingredients used constantly in the Shoku Iko foods and meal plans are:

  • Steamed rice
  • Soya beans
  • Ramen and noodles
  • Tofu
  • Vegetables
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Green tea

You can also add poultry meat to this list.

Seafood every day

Japanese people claim to eat fish and seafood every day. Statistically, they eat any kind of seafood, cooked or raw.

Nevertheless, there is a wrong conception that sushi is an everyday dish for Japanese people. It is not so. They consume lots of seaweed, which is an active antioxidant and helps to lose weight.

Physical activity

Japanese do not consider walking, running, or riding a bicycle exercising. It is their way of living. If western people take a car or a bus to go to work, the Japanese take a bicycle.

Though, there is a tradition in Japan to gather in the parks in the mornings to do so-called radio exercises. Nearly 30 million Japanese practice it as an everyday routine. It is promoted at schools and sports clubs as well. It is a great way to start a day. The uniqueness of this type of exercise is very useful for elderly people, though young people and pupils at schools also actively participate in these kinds of activities.


To sum up, culture has an important influence on nutrition and healthy life promotion. However, in the globalized world, the influence and mixture of different cultures affect all areas including nutrition. That is why talking about the traditional Japanese nutritional habits we should not forget that nowadays it has changed a lot and has incorporated western nutritional traditions into its diet.

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