Oldest people in the world swear by ‘80% rule’ for eating – and it’s super simple

By Staff 6 Min Read

Residents of the Earth’s ‘Blue Zones’ have unveiled a dieting trick that may be the secret to becoming one of the lucky few centenarians in the world – people living above 100 years old

Greece, Japan and Costa Rica all have one thing in common – they’re home to three of Earth’s five rare ‘Blue Zones’. These unique areas host the most centenarians in the world, with residents 10 times more likely to live to 100 than anywhere else.

If you don’t live in any of these locations, don’t worry, as the oldest people in the world have now revealed one of their best kept secrets to longevity – and it’s all down to a very strict rule. Dubbed the “80% trick” or “Hara Hachi Bu”, this dieting hack is bad news for anyone who enjoys three big meals on a daily basis.

Many living in Blue Zones usually stick to just one small meal in the late afternoon or early evening, while only eating until they are 80% full – hence the name of the hack. This helps avoid any ‘food coma’ feelings that you may relate to after stuffing your face at the dinner table, and helps them keep moving throughout the day.

The trick is primarily followed by the Okinawans in one of Japan’s smallest islands, according to Blue Zones explorer Dan Buettner, with older research claiming they also live in a ‘calorie deficit’. This involves eating 1,900 calories instead of the typical 2,000 to 2,500, which is linked to a lessened risk of age-related diseases.

With supermarket shelves stacked with countless tempting snacks, this may seem impossible to maintain. But Dr Deborah Lee, a GP at Dr Fox Pharmacy, has a few tips that may help. She told The Mirror: “Imagine what 80% of your meal would look like, and aim to leave 20% behind.

“Calorie restriction is believed to slow the ageing process. Eating less lowers the metabolic rate. With less metabolic processes underway, less oxidation is taking place. Oxidative stress probably underpins the development of many of the chronic diseases we see today – heart disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes and dementia.”

Dr Lee also claimed that taking your time to eat slowly can help with maintaining the 80% rule too. This is also backed by science, with one 2012 study highlighting that slower eating is linked to enhanced satisfaction and less hunger between meals.

She continued: “Nutritionists believe that when you look at your plate, if you eat mindfully, eating slowly and chewing every mouthful thoroughly, you can feel satisfied by eating only 80% of that is on your plate. The diet has many benefits. You don’t have to count calories, and no foods are absolutely forbidden. It can fit in with your work and social schedule. You are still eating large amounts of healthy foods and getting good nutrition.”

Despite this however, certain foods are certainly recommended above others, with Blue Zone residents often following plant-based diets with meat swapped for beans. Dr Lee added: “We need to encourage the population to ditch processed foods – ready meals, takeaways, fried food, cakes, biscuits, puddings, desserts and fizzy drinks – and cook from scratch using fresh, healthy ingredients.”

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