Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Japanese Dr. Koop

As readers of my blog know, I'm a great fan of the Japanese culture, lifestyle, and people. I'm on a speaking tour of the country this week, meeting with government, academia, and industry leaders in Tokyo, Nagoya and Kyoto. Every time I visit Japan I learn more about the language, the arts, and tradition. The trip thus far has been remarkable with many insights into the challenges of their healthcare system, their plans for EHRs and their emerging interest in PHRs. I've met many friends and colleagues, had great vegetarian meals, and mastered the Tokyo subway system.

One of the most interesting experiences was having lunch with Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, the most famous physician in Japan. He's 97 years old and loved by everyone - the Japanese version of Dr. Koop. He has published over 150 books since his 75th birthday, including one "Living Long, Living Good" that has sold more than 1.2 million copies. As the founder of the New Elderly Movement, Hinohara encourages others to live a long and happy life, a quest in which no role model is better than the doctor himself.

I asked Doctor Hinohara to describe the secrets of his exemplary physical health and sharp mental acuity.

His response was simple - sleep little, eat modestly, and work hard.

Every night he goes to bed at midnight and wakes at 5:30am. His breakfast is coffee, a glass of milk and orange juice with a tablespoon of olive oil in it. (He notes that olive oil is great for the arteries and keeps his skin healthy). Lunch is milk and a few cookies, or nothing when he is too busy to eat (we ate Soba noodles together). Dinner is mostly vegetables with a bit of fish and rice, and, twice a week, 100 grams of lean meat. His total intake is about 1800 calories a day.

He always takes the stairs and walks everywhere. He volunteers at St. Luke's Hospital in Tokyo (he's the Chairman of the Board) 18 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If I have half his energy at 97, I'll be happy!

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