Health Tech Check

Health - June 1st, 2007

Gadgets to suit your healthy living

by Robert Estel

For those foreigners living in Japan, you’ve probably noticed that Japanese people are generally slimmer than their Western counterparts. However, one area that health officials are always keen to point out is that an American-style diet is fast lead­ing to American-sized Japanese. While I personally tend to think a steady diet of beer and fried foods af­ter work and college classes is a bigger factor than an occasional burger from your favorite fast food joint, this health scare seems to have triggered a craze for health products in Japan. While there may be an increasing number of new healthy beverages lining the combini shelves, there are even more gadgets available to suit your healthy living along the aisles of Bic Camera.

First and foremost, there is the ion craze, or gadg­ets that emit negative ions, which “clean” the air for you. While you can’t see the ions in action, rest as­sured they are there, busy purifying the air for you. While ion air purifiers have, to some degree, a fol­lowing abroad, Japan has taken it one step further by including them in hair dryers, skin cleaners, and even the little USB attachments for your computer, or a travel size for your car. Go to any electronics store and check out the cosmetics area and you will find a large selection of hair dryers and skin cleaning devices with negative ions. Definitely a popular sell among the la­dies, as your hair and skin will supposedly glow with healthiness with all those ions.

But, even more so than hair dryers, as we approach the dog days of summer, the biggest push right now would be air conditioners, of course. Not the little un­derpowered air conditioners of old—which tended to give you colds rather then keep you cold; recent mod­els come power-packed with features such as built in ion dispensers and air cleansing capabilities. So how does this work health-wise? Studies have shown that it helps reduce allergy, asthma, and respiratory-relat­ed illness symptoms, and have also shown that ion emitting devices help reduce migraine headaches and fatigue, which will lead to better rest, and as we all know, better rest leads to a healthier, and as the Japa­nese say, genki day.

On the downside, ion air conditioners don’t come cheap, with most models running from ¥180,000 to as high as ¥290,000. Top of the line models such as the new Sharp AY-Series come with features such as automatic filter cleaning and robotic airflow control, along with ion air cleaning. Of course, this will set you back a small packet, but for clean air and good sleep, it might just be worth it. On the other hand, you could pocket the money and sweat out the sum­mer, and hit the gym—perhaps the fastest way to lose the pounds.

Now with that money saved it’s time to treat  myself to a Mega Mac!