Japan prides itself on being at the forefront of technology and innovation. They have streamlined homes with integrated storage and automated systems, computerized public toilets, and their health trends are no less advanced. As Japan is an ageing society, with a declining birth rates, the ageing population has led to a strong nationwide drive toward overall health and wellness. For the past 3 decades, Japan has hosted an annual Health Industry Show where more than 500 exhibitors will be divided into 5 zones: Health Food & Supplements, Health Equipment & Health Care, Beauty & Aging Care, Sports Conditioning, and Organic & Natural Products.
Though food safety is a concern due to nuclear radiation and a proliferation of tainted food warnings worldwide, there is a growing need for ready-to-eat products and more convenient meals. In single-person and elderly households, there is a need for individual food products that allow personalization. As such, the Japanese diet has greatly diversified and the population seem increasingly willing to try new products.
Japanese companies are focussing more now on the business of Inner Beauty – selling ever-increasing amounts of natural health products and supplements such as healthy drinks; as a result, the average Japanese life expectancy has increased to 72.14 years for men and 74.79 for women. Changes in food regulations over the past year and the more relaxed Food with Functions Claims have increased the potential to market foods with health benefits – and not just allergen-friendly or organic foods – one cooking oil is advertised as contributing to lower cholesterol levels.
A recent trend toward warming the body from the inside has developed as more than 80% of Japanese women are concerned about their sensitivity to cold. Many forms of thermotherapy have come to light, such as Onkatsu (using food and drink to warm the body from the inside out), Onnetsu (using physical stimulation from far infrared to warm up the body and helps blood circulation), and Onyoku (hot baths); the physiological benefits of Heat Shock Protein (HSP) are drawing the attention of Japanese health experts. HSP is believed to increase the level of protein in the body, help repair injured cells, and even control the production of lactic acid.
As pollution and smog levels continue to rise, health accessories such as air and water purifiers remain trendy, as do state-of-the-art sports conditioning equipment like specialized athletic wear, training equipment, and sports nutrition. It will be exciting to see what the future holds for healthcare in Japan.