The Village of Yuzurihara
In the year 2000, an ABC television news reporter visited the village of Yuzurihara in Japan (about 2 hours north of Tokyo). The report showed villages who defied the hands of time. Out of 990 villages surveyed by the world health organisation, there were 10 times more people living beyond the age of 85 in Yuzurihara than in the whole of North America and Japan.
Youthful appearance attributed to Hyaluronan
It was not just the longevity of the inhabitants of this village but their youthful appearance that attracted the camera’s to Yuzurihara. The aged villages had smooth skin, flexible joints, thick hair and few needed reading glasses. One female resident had no wrinkles or age spots at the age of 90! There are villagers that wake up every morning and farm their fields for 4-5 hours at the age of 86.
Vibrant, healthy people
Dr Toyosuke Komori, the town doctor, had been studying the population for over 60 years. He noted that there had never been a case of skin cancer. Fewer people developed the age-related health problems of diabetes, heart disease or cancer. Dr Komori attributed the longevity and good health of the residents of Yuzurihara to a substance called Hyaluronan.
He noted that the diet is different from other parts of Japan where the centre of the diet is rice. This cannot be easily grown on the mountain slopes and so the people eat sticky types of vegetables, so their diets are low in iron.
A typical lunch in Yuzurihara consisting of vegetables rich in HA
The residents of Yuzurihara may be triggering the body to make more HA by consuming this diet and this may be the result of life long consumption. However, supplementing HA orally can support HA levels in the body.
Izumi Ishii, 83, delivers his freshly harvested vegetables on his scooter
We are aware of other substances that support the levels of HA in the body, but it is a combination of the foods grown on the mountain slopes that boosts the HA in the villagers.
If there is a secret of youth in Yuzurihara, it may be due to the phyto-oestrogens from plants such as soy, and the dark purple sweet potato. They are known to increase the production of HA in the human body.
The secrets of health and longevity exhibited involve the following factors:
- A low calorie diet with few processed foods or refined sugars
- A low-iron, vegetable based diet obtained fresh from nearby fields
- Sweetfish, a small fish caught locally providing omega-3 oils
- Plant oestrogens which help to upregulate the production of Hyaluronan
Whilst we try to increase HA in joints by the use of glucosamine supplements, that is only one half of the HA molecule. HA is two sugar like molecules (glucosamine and glucuronic acid). Oral HA can rapidly replace lost HA as we age and help with joint health, youthful skin and healthy eyes.