Sagen Ishizuka's research led him to conclude that the balance of the potassium and sodium salts in the body was the prime determinant of health, and that food is the main factor in maintaining this balance.
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A GOOD BALANCE OF SODIUM AND POTASSIUM
Eating a diet with a good balance of sodium and potassium will help your muscles and nerves to function properly (although those involved in intense physical exercise may require more potassium-rich foods). Your body will also be better able to maintain its ideal electrolyte and acid balance.
Potassium, sodium and chloride comprise the electrolyte family of minerals. Called electrolytes because they conduct electricity when dissolved in water, these minerals work together closely in your body. Potassium is especially important in regulating the activity of our muscles and nerves. The frequency and degree to which our muscles contract, depend on the presence of potassium in the right quantity.
Most people eating a Western diet consume far too much sodium, most of which comes from processed foods into which salts are added. One of the biggest risks of eating a high sodium diet is high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.
Following a macrobiotic diet, you should find you have adequate sources of potassium while not taking in excessive sodium. Typical sources of sodium in the macrobiotic diet are salt,miso,shoyu , pickles, tekka, umeboshi and sea vegetables.
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Fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium but, because potassium is water-soluble, these should be eaten raw or only lightly cooked.
Potassium rich foods are fruits and fruit juices, vegetables (fresh), beef, whole wheat, brown rice, chicken, fish (fresh), honey, yogurt, salmon (wild and fresh), lamb, noodles, porridge oats, nuts, oysters, pasta, pork, scallops, seeds, prawns and turkey.
THE SALT BALANCE
If your diet is too high in salt, you may experience cravings for more liquids, fruits and desserts as your body tries to restore and maintain its proper balance. For this reason, if you are trying to lose weight or maintain stable blood sugar levels and avoid foods with a high sugar in content, it is important to keep sodium-rich foods to a minimum.
However, it is also important not to have too little sodium in your diet, so regular, small amounts of sodium-rich foods should be eaten on a daily basis. This could take the form of a half teaspoon of miso in your soup; a pinch of salt with your main meal; or a teaspoon of shoyu to season a dish. A few times a week, you could also sprinkle some tekka or shiso powder on your grains, or include olives and a pinch of umeboshi plum for seasong.
Sodium-rich foods are sea vegetables, salt, breads, butter, crab, ham, miso, cheese (except ricotta), bacon, shoyu, tekka, clams, sauerkraut, corn chips or similar, umeboshi, ume-sprinkle, mustard, olives, pickled vegetables, sausage, tuna (canned).
Symptoms of potassium deficiency are muscle weakness, confusion, irritability, fatigue, heart problems, chronic diarrhea.
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SALT FROM THE SEA
When you do have salt make sure it is of good quality. Always try to use sea salt, and use a variety of reputable sources as each kind of salt has different properties and imparts a different energy.
Source: "Modern-day macrobiotics" by Simon G. Brown & Dragana G. Brown - Carroll & Brown Publishers Limited