Why is UC So Rare in Japan?


Japan has the lowest cases of people who suffer with UC, could this be all about the diet they eat or the foods they buy? In my story I talk about a plant called Stevia rebaudiana that has been used in Japan since 1971 in foods and drinks (including coca cola) and how it has been banned in US and only since 2011 has been approved for use in EU.

Some more about Richard:

I live in the east of UK, mostly a computer gamer these days and I have just started weight lifting. I enjoy reading just about everything on the internet.

We are blessed these days of having not only a computer that connects to everyone around the world but more than one screen to multi task on!


I just had surgery this year end of February to remove my colon, waiting until December this year to plan the J-pouch surgery.

Why is UC So Rare in Japan?

Hello all Richard here, I had my colon removed this year in Feb and feeling miles better these days.

I wanted to bring up something that I was reading about today.

So I was reading about a plant called Stevia rebaudiana and it’s uses in food and drinks since 1971. Just going to copy and paste some info below about it…

In the early 1970s, sweeteners such as cyclamate and saccharin were suspected of being carcinogens. Consequently, Japan began cultivating Stevia rebaudiana as an alternative. The plant’s leaves, as well as the aqueous extract of the leaves and purified steviosides, were developed as sweeteners. The first commercial stevia sweetener in Japan was produced by the Japanese firm Morita Kagaku Kogyo Co., Ltd. in 1971.[9] The Japanese have been using stevia in food products and soft drinks, (including Coca Cola), and for table use. Japan currently consumes more stevia than any other country, with stevia accounting for 40% of the sweetener market.

The availability of stevia varies from country to country. In a few countries, it has been available as a sweetener for decades or centuries; for example, it has been widely used for decades as a sweetener in Japan. In some countries health concerns and political controversies have limited its availability; for example, the United States banned stevia in the early 1990s unless labeled as a dietary supplement,[2][3] but since 2008 it has accepted several specific glycoside extracts as being generally recognized as safe for use as food additives. Over the years, the number of countries in which stevia is available as a sweetener has been increasing. In 2011, stevia was approved for use in the EU.[4][5] The leaves can be eaten fresh, or put in teas and foods.

To much info right :) right so after reading this I was remembering something I read about how people from Japan have the lowest cases of Ulcerative Colitis.

In Japan they have 0.34 per 100,000 people who have UC.

In United States and Northern Europe they have 8 to 15 people per 100,00 people who have UC.

Also people who live in the developing world it’s almost unheard of to have UC.

So I bring you all this information to do with as you wish, I have had UC for 8 years of my life and surgery was needed to remove most of mine. My sister still has to live with hers and my Father cured himself with exercise and diet.

I strongly believe the future of curing UC is more about linking the food or drink we have each day. Having some facts to prove that certain foods or man made sweeteners or preservatives put you at risk of getting UC.

Lastly I leave you with this question for yourselves.

If you lived in Japan and shopped and cooked the same meals as the Japanese would you have UC?

links I used for the information at the top : –

Medications Richard Tried:

Nothing worked for me, the steriods at first helped and after talking far to many every year the effects of them did almost nothing. Humira was talked about and they gave me the go ahead to use it but I refused at the last minute in 2013, in 2014 I had my colon removed in Feb so drug free atm.

written by Richard

submitted in the colitis venting area

11 thoughts on “Why is UC So Rare in Japan?”

  1. Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe actually has UC. Immune diseases are on the rise in Japan but they do eat a lot of raw and fermented foods which probably keeps them right. Also rates of breast feeding are very high.

    1. Diet must play a role. Wheat and Dairy were both very rarely eaten in Japan until very recent times. Now that they are becoming a part of the regular diet, it will be interesting to see if UC rates keep on rising. Interesting article below about the shift to wheat, on the basis that rice causes ‘brain damage’!


      Certainly, there are still lots of positives in the Japanese diet, like fermented Miso soup, garlic, ginger, Shiitake mushrooms, lots of fish etc.. Like Andy says, maybe this is keeping the lid on UC rates. As they move to a more western diet though, it’s probably only a matter of time before they start to get western rates of UC.

      It’s unlikely to be genetic, as I don’t believe Japanese emigrants in western countries also have significantly lower rates of UC.

      Has anyone tried Stevia with their UC? Interesting to know if it causes issue for anyone, or I might start experimenting with it.

  2. I guess there are other factors of the Japanese lifestyle that have kept them a developed country without many of the issues other developed countries have faced. Fish consumption is one, four time the amount of steps taken per day compared to US citizens another.


    As a rising of meat consumption is happening in Japan I can se why the claims andy does makes sense.


    1. Interesting Article from Global sherp Slingshot:) thx for posting that one:) Crazy what just a couple servings of fish/wk can do from their study results. Wow. thx again for the post

  3. I know that my symptoms started when I was under a lot of stress. In fact, one year prior to being diagnosed I cut out dairy, most meat, ate a big bowl of salad every day and enjoyed fresh fruit several times a day (oh, I miss those days), so I am guessing I would also have it, esp. if my stress levels were up (and we know that Japan is a workaholic nation so stress is on the menu every day)

    1. It’s an interesting point about stress. I too was under a lot of stress when my symptoms started, so I always thought there was a strong link.

      Japan always comes out top in the national stress leagues, but has very low UC levels. This is a puzzle, and shows the link between stress and UC isn’t clearcut. My guess is that diet lays the foundations and stress is just the trigger.

  4. The reason Japan had lower rates of UC is because they have different vaccine manufacturers than the US. I wonder what the statistics are for 2019

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