I have only been macrobiotic for two years now, so there is a lot for me to read and learn. I go through phases of reading voraciously whatever I can get my hands on and then setting things aside for a while to let it all percolate. Right now, I am just through the beginning of Kaleidoscope by Herman Aihara and was struck by one of his essays entitled, Yin Syndrome, written in 1979.
It starts out by discussing the fear of nuclear radiation. At the time this article was written, many people feared the effects of nuclear radiation, especially with what happened at Three Mile Island. Aihara calls this fear a yin syndrome. Some studies suggest that an increase in cancer is caused by very low levels of radiation the come from wristwatches, microwave ovens, nuclear mining, and power generating operations.
However, he suggests that we have no reason to fear the effects of radiation if we follow a balanced macrobiotic lifestyle. The main cause of the fear (kidney imbalance) AND the physical effects of radiation are caused by our diet.
He says the main causes of both the fear and illness come from (p.30):
–sugar and sugared foods
–refined foods, especially grains
–chemical additives, colorings
–animal foods (especially grown with hormone feeds)
–vinegar, spices, coffee
–soft drinks, beer, wine, all other alcoholic drinks.
He wrote that when we eliminate these foods from our diet, we eliminate the mental and emotional plague of nervousness, worry, passivity, introversion, spaced-out behavior, lack of concentration, lack of memory, and slow decision-making. We also prevent modern illnesses.
While still on the topic of sugar and refined foods, I recently read Sugar Blues by William Dufty. In his book, he suggests that throughout history, the use of sugar has been the cause of civilization’s decline. To give a few examples, nations who ate sugar were eradicated, slavery started, the black plague killed thousands, and the Salem witch trials occurred. He suggests that sugar is a powerful drug like any other and questioned why people tend not to see the substance in this way? In America, people are up in arms about drugs. Drug use conjures an image of some dirty and dangerous American street with some weird adult peddling heroin, speed, or marijuana. Or perhaps it conjures an image of a dangerous man breeching the safety and comfort of the suburbs…? But people just don’t seem to mind if they themselves, or if their kids, get their hit from the vending machine. The vending machine is Dufty’s idea of a modern drug pusher. And the candy, chip, and soda machines are ubiquitous. Even cigarettes, he says, have sugar in them.
But like Aihara wrote, eating sugar can make you passive, docile, and perhaps unwilling to question authority. Hegemonic corporations thus keep us firmly addicted and rake in lots of profit.
When I read this book, I felt that being macrobiotic is more than just for my health. Not eating sugar is also a political statement that I oppose the current power structure of my country. It would be interesting to know if people ate less sugar in the ‘60’s around the time of the sexual revolution? At that time, people were questioning the powers that be, protesting the Vietnam war, and working actively for a more peaceful world. On a certain level that is still happening today, but progress seems stalled. Perhaps if more people ate less sugar, George Bush could have been defeated, and we would not experience such apathy as we have now? We can change the world just by changing ourselves.