One meal a day? Food for thought

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One meal a day? Food for thought

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Senior welfare expert Han Hye-kyung, a professor of social work at Honam University, says a man who knows how to cook has a far happier life in his later years than a man who doesn’t. If you want to enjoy retirement, cooking is a requirement. If you don’t want to end up a pitiful man who has to depend on his wife, you need to be able to fix simple meals.

Recently, I had a monthlong vacation, and having three meals a day at home proved to be a challenge. After a week, my wife grumbled, “Can we just eat one meal a day?” I usually have only one or two meals a day at home, but as I stayed home and had three meals a day prepared by my wife, I realized it was just not fair for either of us.

Lately, Japanese doctor Yoshinori Nagumo’s book has created a stir by claiming that having one meal a day is the secret of a long and healthy life. More than a half-million copies of his book, “Being Hungry Makes You Healthy,” have been sold in Japan, and the Korean translation published in September has sold more than 30,000 copies. A surgeon specializing in breast cancer and honorary president of the International Anti-Aging Medical Society, he has been maintaining health and youth by having one meal a day for the past 10 years. I saw the photos of him during his recent to visit to Seoul and could not believe he was 56. He looks like he is in his late 20s or early 30s.

He claims humans have evolved to utilize a powerful restorative gene called sirtuin when we are faced with starvation and cold. You need to have an empty stomach for sirtuin, which prevents aging and diseases and extends life, to kick in. “It is an old concept to think you need to have three regular and balanced meals to live healthier and longer,” he says. When you hear your stomach growling once, you are burning visceral fat. When you hear it twice, you look younger. When you hear it three times, your blood vessels get younger. He recommends having only dinner, with a bowl of rice, soup and plate of vegetables. Also, if you consume unpeeled fruit or a whole small fish, you take in complete nutrients.

It is great news that having one meal a day guarantees health, youth and longevity. It is gospel for a world where obesity and starvation coexist amid limited resources and environmental problems. I made an ambitious suggestion to my wife: “I am considering changing my diet and having one meal a day.” Her response? “I will prepare three meals a day for you, so why don’t you quit drinking and smoking first?”

I could not argue with her.

* The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

by By Bae Myung-bok

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