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Okinawan Elders Share Their Secrets For Healthy Longevity

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Residents of Japan's Okinawa Islands are famously known for their longevity, and the locals give a few tips on the right foods to eat. NY1's Valarie D'Elia filed the following report.

Japan’s Okinawan island group has a global reputation for longevity, with a healthy number of elderly becoming centenarians.

Rice farmer Hitoshi Nane, 78, can expect many more good years because his parents both lived to be 99. But Nane isn't counting on genes alone, so he doesn't stuff himself.

"People don't eat until they are full, but 80 percent full," Nane says through an interpreter.

He also enjoys a stiff drink of awamori, the rice-based local alcoholic beverage.

Nane lives on Iriomote, the largest island in Okinawa's Yaeyama Islands, where in the village, a group of octogenarians gather regularly for a game of "gate ball."

With the help of an interpreter, they share their tips for a long life.

"Smiling, talking to people, it's very good for health," says one elder.

"Take a nap. Also, I live by myself, so it's not stressful," says another.

"I wake up at 4:30 or 5 o'clock in the morning. Music from the radio, I exercise to that," says a third.

"Everyone makes vegetables by themselves. Never buy it, so no chemicals," says a fourth.

One of the most popular vegetables is goya, or bitter melon, a staple for many dishes, including chanpuru, a popular stir-fry.

Alessia Corda, the executive chef at the Ritz Carlton Okinawa, where I stayed as a guest, also folds nutrient-rich goya into many of his dishes, including a hearty juice.

"Makes your health sweet, if you eat this every day," Corda says.

Another super food is mozuku, a seaweed harvested in the spring, where locals and visitors alike can take health into their own hands.

So if you want to live to 100, you should have what the Okinawans are having.

As is common practice in the travel industry, Travel With Val often receives complimentary travel or reduced "media" rates at hotels, resorts and attractions, including those that may be featured in these reports. Such consideration is not taken in exchange for any express or implied promise or understanding of any nature, particularly regarding the content of these reports. These reports only feature travel providers personally recommended by Valarie D’Elia in the exercise of her independent editorial judgment, and do not represent the endorsement of Time Warner Cable or any third party. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP