When young and growing up I ate too much salt. I didn’t know it at the time but looking back at my early childhood, my teens, and even my twenties and thirties I can see how I and my family were eating way too salty. I believe this excessive salt consumption partially contributed to the early deaths of my sister and mother. What saved me from a similar fate is the drinking of beer and sake (rice wine). My father also saved himself by drinking several cups of coffee and eating sugar pastries in the morning and throughout the day, although this later caught up to him in the form of a tumor in his colon.
When I was young I loved umeboshi plums and would wrap two or three of them in a paper towel and stuff it in my pocket to eat later as a snack. I enjoyed salty soba noodles in broth and many other foods garnished with shoyu (soy sauce).
The taking of too much salt was common in the early days of the Boston macrobiotic community. I believe that this habit began as an extension of transplanted Japanese eating habits and an emphasis of the benefits of salt by George Ohsawa.
Japanese people consume a great amount of salt in their diet, but they counteract this by taking hot baths everyday and by drinking large quantities of alcohol and eating sugar. It is customary for the average working Japanese to go out drinking every evening after work. It is ritual that allows them to cope with eating large quantities of salt.
Ohsawa believed in the curative nature of salt and often recommended eating on the salty side. Yes, salt does have this property but in excess it can be very harmful, especially over long periods of time.
The remedy for excessive salt eating and for eating a generally overly yang diet (too much animal food and too much baked goods) for long periods of time is actually to go on a raw foods diet which is extremely popular now. People compare raw foods versus macrobiotics and think that eating raw is not macrobiotics, but this is not true. Macrobiotics is not a specific diet but is about life and how to manage it. There are times when we need to eat salt, cooked foods and animals foods and there are times when we need to eat more raw foods. Everything changes including ourselves and we must compensate accordingly.
The effects of my eating too salty has caused my hair to gray prematurely. It may have also caused teeth problems. I am sure that it effected my thinking as well as other behavioral problems.
I remedied my years of excessive salt talking with excessive beer and sake drinking. Now, after abstaining from all alcoholic beverages for six months I am beginning to realize the extremities of taking too much salt in my youth. I can also see now how the lives of many people, including many macrobiotic teachers have been negatively effected by the over-consumption of salt. For a more comprehensive list of the negative effects of eating too much salt feel free to contact me.
Aahhh…life is interesting!