Na/K – Dr. Ishizuka Was Onto Something, Part 1
by David Briscoe
Ever since coming across the first mention of Dr. Ishizuka’s sodium and potassium (Na/K from now on) theory over 40 years ago, I have been on a mission to find out more. George Ohsawa based his macrobiotic theory on Ishizuka’s teachings. It was Ishizuka’s books on Na/K applied to food and health that first caught Ohsawa’s attention, and by following these teachings he was able to recover from serious illness. Over time, Ohsawa created his yin-yang interpretation of Ishizuka’s theory, and macrobiotics was born. In the process, unfortunately in my opinion, Ishizuka’s original Na/K theory faded from view.
Regretfully, I don’t read Japanese, so I have never been able to explore any of Ishizuka’s original writings. My search to understand Na/K and its relationship to food and health began, in its early days, by spending endless hours combing through dense scientific tomes and researching medical journals in university libraries. Most of it I couldn’t comprehend as I am not a trained scientist or physiologist, but I persisted. With persistent research discovering new bits of information, the pieces of the puzzle filled in to form a more comprehensive picture. Here’s my interpretation of Dr. Ishizuka’s theory in a nutshell:
For an example of a food, let’s look at a banana. It’s Na/K ratio is 380:1. From Ishizuka’s viewpoint, banana, though it can certainly be enjoyed as a treat now and then, would not make a good primary and daily food for human consumption because its Na/K is way high in K. An opposite example is bacon. Bacon is extremely high in Na and low in K.
George Ohsawa categorized foods that are high in Na and low in K as “yang.” Foods that were high in K and low in Na he categorized as “yin.” There are other factors that can be used to determine the yang or yin of food, but Na/K ratio was a significant determining factor in Ohsawa’s view. Ishizuka’s theory offers us another tool for determining how to appreciate a food, not just for taste and satisfying hunger, but for healing as well.