Let Us Keep a Sake Diary:
Think of Sake & Health

Written by Hanako
Translated by Saki Kimura & Ken Ko

With the COVID-19, we have been facing a long uncertain situation.
Fukuoka Prefecture, where I live, was also declared a state of emergency: all commercial properties closed after April 8, 2020 and I myself started working completely at home.

After staying at home for about a month, the amount of my drinking increased steadily.
I’m not a medical professional, but I’m in the business of supporting physical health as a dietician. Today, I’d like to talk a bit about “sake and health.”

Keep a Record “For Yourself”, Not “For Show”

For the past few years, I’ve been keeping track of my diet and health.
It’s not difficult: I just wrote down what I ate every day, as well as my health condition like stomach and back pains, sleepiness, emotional ups and downs, defecation, periods, etc.

There are a lot of different health methods, but not all of them are good for you. For some, the opposite can be true and lead to the worsening of your health. Sometimes what you eat affects your body immediately, but usually it is reflected in your condition the next day and after. At such times, if you can’t even remember what you ate yesterday, and focus only on “What should I do for dinner tonight?,” you have no time to figure out why you’re not feeling well and will end up repeating the same thing.

To prevent this from happening, let’s try writing down your daily diet and health status.
Even if it’s a simple note, if you keep it up for months or years, it will be easier to find ways to deal with poor health and to find the right regimen for your body. I’m a strong drinker, but I have a relatively weak constitution. This is the reason why I’m trying to improve my health by keeping records and studying my body on a daily basis.

For example, I used to eat yogurt every morning for nearly a month to supplement my protein. However, on the next period, I experienced period heavy cramps that I had never felt before. Reading back through my records, the only thing I changed was the yogurt every morning. When I stopped eating it, my period cramps went away.
I don’t know if eating cold every morning wasn’t good. There’s not enough evidence to definitively determine cause and effect. However, this experience made me realize that my disorder was lurking in my daily diet.

Yogurt is a typical fermented food. There is a lot of information saying “fermented foods are good for your health”. I like fermented food and my job is to tell people its appeal: however, not all of them are beneficial to me. Homemade yogurt might be different , but that’s a matter for future consideration.
Although there are countless things that are said to be “good for your health, taking all of it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be healthy.

Is Sake Good or Bad for Health?

Now, you may be wondering what this story is related to sake.
There is no end to the disadvantages that alcohol can bring to the body. Many believe that it is not necessary for a so-called “healthy life”.
In addition, more and more people don’t drink alcohol these days and more and more non-alcoholic beverages are being produced.

With the economical influence by COVID-19, while many people’s incomes are dwindling, sake, a luxury item, may not be an “essential” for many people.
(Of course, for me and SakeTips! readers, it must be an essential item.)
Restaurants have been forced to shut down their operations. Brewing companies are suffering from the recession. At first, I thought that the best thing I could do was to contribute to the consumption of alcohol. However, in the current reclusive days, I have come to think that one of the things I can do is to suggest “how to enjoy sake for a long time” to many people.

I’ve seen many parts of the disadvantages that alcohol gives: some people have been forced to abstain from drinking due to the bad health caused by drinking too much. The others drink too much despite being sick, thinking that anything is fine as long as they can drink.
It’s true that sake is considered bad for your health. At the same time, books and papers on the good effects of sake have been published.

It is up to you whether to make sake healthy or bad.
In order to do that, it is important to observe yourself closely and know your physical condition.
Probably, many people feel that their drinking habits are somehow increasing. So, how much is “somehow” exactly? People feel “more” and “less” differently, so it’s important to actually get the facts as numbers.
Now, “Sake Diary” helps you.

Keep a Sake Diary

What to Prepare
・Your favorite organizer, notebook, notepad, etc.

What to Write
・The brand of sake
・How much you drank
・The time you drank
・The condition of the day. Preferably both physically (hangovers, back pain, headaches, etc.) and mentally (irritability, happy feelings, etc.).

I write down the alcohol that I drank that day along with my meal record in the vertical planner, which gives you a bird’s eye view of the week. You don’t have to care how you write it, because it’s “for yourself” and not to show people.
The important thing is to keep going. Find a way that works for you, such as writing on a small notepad or sticky note, or using your computer or social media.
When you feel unwell, look back at what you wrote the day before and try to figure out what’s causing it.

You may think you’re staying home all the time and nothing is changing every day. When you look at it on a cellular level, however, you’re changing every day. “The same as usual” can never happen.
Rather than lamenting your unchanging days, take a good look at how you’re changing through the diary.

I hope that sake will support the health of many people. As I wrote in my previous report on SAKE DAY 2019, sake should enrich people’s lives and not harm their health.
I would like to continue drinking delicious sake with a healthy body as long as possible. Because I want to live with sake for the rest of my life, I want to take care of my own health without giving in to its temporary comfort.

Some people may find it difficult to take care of their health in the current lifestyle that is limited by the refraining from going out.
However, you can start Sake Diary at any time. Why don’t you start by keeping a record of what you eat and drink, and notice the small changes in your body?

Even if a vaccine for COVID-19 will be developed and the current disaster has come to an end, there’s the possibility of a new virus appearing in the future. Many people should notice small changes in their own bodies when all kinds of unusual things happen. On that basis, hopefully the culture of sake will continue for a long time to come.