The Importance of Food Education

Dr. Yukio Yamori, Director of our institute, has been carrying out World Health Organization (WHO) ‐coordinated worldwide epidemiological surveys covering 61 populations in 25 countries since 1985. We call this Cardiovascular Diseases and Alimentary Comparison (CARDIAC) study. CARDIAC study demonstrated the association of dietary biomarkers in 24 hour urine, such as taurine and isoflavones as fish and soybean intakes, respectively, and n-3 fatty acids of the plasma phospholipids in the blood as fish intake, with blood pressure (BP), obesity, hypercholesterolemia and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) mortalities. The results have revealed that more intakes of vegetable, soy beans, seafood, and dairy products reduce the risk of lifestyle-related diseases, and contribute to the extension of healthy life expectancy. Japanese diets are well balanced with rice, as the major energy source, with soy beans and seafood as beneficial protein sources and with vegetables and seaweeds as the source of vitamins, minerals and fibers, except for excessive salt and low calcium intakes. Therefore, Japanese have reached worldly honor top longevity for the last 40 years.. We can see the close relationship between dietary habit and longevity not only from these epidemiological studies but also from basic experimental studies.
Moreover Dr. Yamori and his colleagues successfully developed rat models for hypertension and stroke, that is, spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and stroke-prone SHR (SHRSP). When SHR rats were fed on soy protein, the stroke occurred slowly, at the advanced age and it was also proven to be prevented. Genetic factors are known to affect the development of lifestyle-related diseases, but recent experimental and epidemiological studies indicate that the risk of these CVD can possibly be reduced by the improvement of daily diets as clearly demonstrated by various experiments in rat models. We, Japanese have kept the good balanced dietary habits, that enable us to maintain the world's best longevity so far.
However, due to the Westernization and industrialization of daily diets and urbanization of life styles, Japanese traditional diets have been replaced by Western-style fast foods especially in young Japanese people, who are taking salt and animal fat excessively, and becoming obese, even in childhood. Therefore, it is urgently important to provide effective dietary education to children not only in Japan but also in the world and to protect their health now and in the future. On the other hand, the prevention of CVD is crucial for the elderly to live health lively life and for the reduction of medical expenditure in our advanced ageing society. It will be possible in the future medicine to realize "predictive and preventive medicine" that predicts diseases in advance from gene analyses and prevents diseases by the nutritional diets. From this new point of view, "the dietary education" to know what and how we should eat is the key to realize the true longevity. Our institute is trying to give research outcomes back to our society, and we hope everyone will get own suitable dietary habit and enjoy healthy longevity.