\\It has been claimed that modern people's powers of resistance to disease have become very weak. Could we have your views on this?
Speaking about myself, I grew up without taking any instant food at all. So I believe that I have some 'resistant power'. But most people today eat instant foods or junk food, through which, I suppose, they are taking too much salt and oil. I have lived through and experienced dietary conditions of the pre-war, wartime and postwar days. I think that those who grew up when there was not enough food to eat are healthier than modern people.
Those who were born in the Meiji Era and the Taisho Era grew up when food supply was inadequate. Nevertheless they have a long life-expectancy. So, is the secret of longevity to chew food many times?
Sakurai: People born in the Meiji and Taisho Periods do live long now, but I do not think that those born in the Showa Era would live very long. In my childhood, we were in want of everything, including food, all the time. So I learned to chew food many times, especially hard items. Even now I am still slow in finishing up meals, maybe because of this upbringing. I was trained hard to chew food many times when I was a child. I was required to do so strictly at least 30 times once food was in my mouth. But the young people of today are very fast in finishing their meals. I guess that it is a habit from their childhood. In my case, I did not get sick or have stomach trouble, probably because I chewed food so well. I scarcely had diseases of internal organs either.
\\Did you pay particular attention to food when you were young, or is there something that you practise about food now?
I was born in Gunma Prefecture, which is an inland area. I did not take much calcium, because I did not eat enough fish due to the location. So my teeth were not strong enough. Later, I knew I had to care for my teeth well. After treating caries, I tried to take food of many kinds. Living in Gunma Prefecture, I mainly had meat rather than fish.
I noticed changes in my body in the three months after I stayed off meat, paying attention to food I took.
Sakurai: I think that I still eat more meat than fish, even now. Maybe because of this, my blood cholesterol level went up and the neutral fat level increased. I have stayed off meat, trying to eat more fish in the last three to four years. As a result, the values are now normal and stable. I pay great attention to what I take now. My blood values are monitored every three months. I can feel how food changes in my body after the term. I used to have an egg every morning four or five years ago, but that pushed up my blood cholesterol value. So I made it a rule not to have it in the morning, and stopped doing so. Up until then, I fried almost all the food that I ate. But, I have also stopped having fried food when I am at home. As a result, my cholesterol value has also decreased.
As for neutral fat, its level does not decrease unless you exercise or walk till you develop a sweat. Up until then, I visited hospitals by a car with a chauffeur. I quit using it and tried to take subways and trains as much as possible. I always carried a pedometer with myself, trying to walk more than 10,000 steps every day. I have continued this exercise. As a result, my body weight stopped increasing, and cholesterol and neutral fat levels returned to normal
\\Children's constitutions are now weaker than they were a while ago. What do you think of education and discipline in dietary life?
Parents are educated and disciplined since their childhood in order to not have carbonated beverages, and they do the same to their children.
Sakurai: My brother was a dietitian and wrote several books on dietetics. He never allowed his child to have carbonated drinks. The child married, and had their own child. My brother's child was a girl, and she followed suit, never letting her kid have carbonated beverages either. But, she allowed him only to drink fresh juice. He is now three years old, and always asks whether or not the drink he is going to have is carbonated.
Thus, food education has been handed down from parents to their children, and from the children to their own kids. The girl, my niece, is 30 years old now. Her child has never had beverages sold by vending machines since the time he was born. Instead, she makes Rooibos tea, which she carries with her all the time, for him to drink.
\\The generations born after 1955 became parents. Among their children, the number who have atopic diseases or allergies began to increase, and that is becoming an issue lately. What do you think of this?
Regarding the kid of my niece, there was no worry of such illness. He is not allowed to eat junk food in his daily life, being educated and disciplined in such a way. So, this could be the reason for his good current condition. He likes natural things, eating simple items such as steamed sweet potatoes, and saying it is nice.
My brother actually had two children: One of them was brought up strictly in accordance with theories of dietetics, while the other was not educated or disciplined in such a way at all. The latter was allowed to take any soft drinks including carbonated ones. So he does not appear to have much resistant power, catching colds or getting fevers frequently. Even when he does exercise, his stamina is short-lived. Hence, I think that food has a great influence on health. If your dietary habit is unbalanced, due to your individual likes and dislikes, your baby might have an allergic constitution. As a result, it could lead to the parents having a hard time on account of their child's physical condition.
\\Could you tell us your view of the roles of health food and natural food?
It is impossible to take adequate amounts of food, fresh vegetables for example, when we become aged. A good way is to take health food as a supplement. I myself have been taking food such as calcium, garlic and Vitamin B12 for 3 to 4 years after the advice that my cholesterol level was high or so was that of neutral fat, as a start. When people got older, there would probably be no exception and people come to prefer natural things. Our bodies would demand such things naturally.