The REAL Reason Asians Are Healthier

Historically, the Chinese and Japanese have been healthier than North Americans.  And it’s common to glorify 1 of the foods they eat (ex: soy), or 1 of the foods they ‘apparently’ eat less of (ex: red meat), when it’s not one food making the difference, it’s the diet (and lifestyle) as a whole.

Recently I posted an article for laying out the 10 (Real) Reasons Asians are Healthier.  Which was motivated by ‘so-called’ experts telling us Asians are healthier because they eat a lot of rice – citing studies like this one in the journal PLoS One, showing greater metabolic improvements with a typical Asian diet, compared to a typical Western one.

Realistically, all this evidence proves is that Oriental cuisine is better than the Standard American Diet.  And other than the specific foods and lifestyle practices laid out in the article, the reason rice is beneficial in their diet is because is appears to keep them from eating wheat.

rice & wheat

(image credit – Ned Kock –

But more importantly, health and body composition don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. With the combination of nutrition and lifestyle factors in Japan and China giving them a longer, healthier life than North Americans, but not necessarily making them lean and muscular.

Or put another way, they may have a healthy BMI, but as we talked about in Live It NOT Diet!, this is a very misleading measure. As generally speaking, iit tends to put jacked-up dudes with sub 10% body fat in the clinically obese category, while doing the opposite for thin-framed pencil pushers.

In fact, evidence from 2004 in the Lancet researchers determined that:

Asian men had a tendency to carry more excess fat than their equivalent BMI counterpart. 

Suggesting that a scale and fancy algorithm may be saying ‘fit,’ while a set of calipers or a bod pod is screaming ‘skinny-fat.’  And implying that rice is just another starchy carb, that the obese, insulin-resistant, sedentary population is better off avoiding.

Stay Lean!
Coach Mike


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