New Study: Why South Koreans Live Longer Lives

South Korean Traditions and Longevity

Lancet published a 2017 study revealing that South Korea will likely have the highest worldwide life expectancy by 2030. Additionally, there’s a 57% probability that South Korea’s average life expectancy will be an unprecedented 90 years (or even higher) for women. Below are a few traditions listed as the reasons for this longevity rate.

Fermenting foods has long been a hallmark of Korean cuisine. And it has been proven how food fermentation contributes to gut health, with the prime example of spicy pickled cabbage known as kimchi. Other types of popular salted and fermented vegetables include radishes, celery and sprouts. Nonetheless, the benefits of the lactobacillus bacteria are found in the many varieties of pickled vegetables. Kimchi is considered a superfood, an important part of the Korean diet.

The Korean diet is less punishing to the body than an American one, if only because of its lack of sugar. Dairy and sugar have never been a part of the culture. While an abundance of salt can aggravate pre-existing conditions, sugar often creates entirely new health problems such as obesity.

South Koreans have their own version of sauna, their wellness culture involving hot water. It’s the jjimjilbang, which are public bathhouses with hot tubs, showers, and kiln saunas and large resting area with heated floors, where visitors can ease their muscles. South Koreans enjoy their jjimjilbang, going to regular sauna visits for real health benefits such as reductions in heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

While modern medicine aids in treating disease and increasing life expectancy in many countries, South Koreans spend most of their lives not interacting with the health care system. It’s the decisions made every day – like the food they eat, how far they walk – that are the much larger determinants of their health. For example, Seoul spends its government resources accordingly – like building projects to renew green spaces throughout the city to promote social engagement and increased physical exercise.

South Korea, like other top nations in the Lancet’s study, has a universal health care system guaranteeing all citizens the right to obtain proper care. While American medicine is more focused on specialists, evidence shows that primary care is more closely associated with lower costs and higher outcomes.

Enjoying Longevity Foods at U-District in Seattle

Thinking long life and health traditions? Then sample what we offer here at Korean Tofu House, your neighborhood UW Korean restaurant. Know more about what makes our classics healthy.