Are You Severely Compromising your Long-term Health by Living in Taiwan?


Guys I was reading about the high incidence of strokes in Taiwanese population. It is a scary thought, as a stroke leaves you practically like a baby for a long time, if you're lucky. I've seen my neighbors go through it and they are not so elderly and recovery is slow and painful. Is this a concern for us expats living here? Will enviromental factors contribute to our demise by stroke?

I udnerstand that it could be realted to teh fact that high blood pressure goes so untreated here, as it is asynthomatic until it is too late, and most of the population are unaware of this disease until it is too late. Plus, ther eis the pollution factor contributing to strokes. So, can we avoid this fate?


Damn, people, you all make me want to pack up and leave asap. :frowning:


I think high blood pressure is the major cause, and one of the main underlying reasons is often too much salt in the diet.


Where does the salt come from? Every Taiwanese restaurant I go to puts way too little salt in their food and they never have saltshakers.

As for marrying a foreigner the ratio of foreign men vs foreign women makes it really hard. Them being ice queens don't help either. Also I won't marry someone just because of her country of origin. Getting into a bad marriage just to get a visa into a country is not worth it.


Good grief, TL. You really need to look at your salt intake. I find a lot of Taiwanese food very salty (it comes from soy sauce, if not from salt added directly). Seriously, if your salt tolerance is that high, be careful. It's actually quite easy to 're-train' your tastes to accept little or no salt. Takes a couple of months. Give it a go. Either that, or move to HK - where they add food to their salt, rather than vice versa.

Me too, and this is what frustrates me the most:

ie., the idea that having no pollution means being 'primitive'. Where on earth does this idea come from? The edumacation system? Apple Daily? It obviously makes no sense, yet the majority of Taiwan's population (especially the politicians) seem to believe it.


I don't mean stuff like the fried chicken thing, there's way too much salt in that. I mean brothy things like beef noodle soup and stuff.


It was in the TT recently that 1/12 young people have high blood pressure and the major cause seems to be their high sodium intake. Hot pot and instant noodles can be dangerous to your health.


'brothy things' are the worst, in my experience. Had one just last week at a restaurant in Shilin, which was memorable for the fact that I simply couldn't finish it. It was like drinking seawater. And as HH just said, pot noodles are full of salt.


IMHO the whole "ZOMG SODIUM IS DE DEBBIL!!!!" thing is way overblown. I mean, for ****'s sake, I've had low blood pressure my whole life, and I've always avoided dumping salt into my food anyway, and yet I've had doctors warn me to "limit your sodium intake or you're gonna die!" just because they're so hellbent on warning people away from salt intake that it's like a reflex to them. You could go into their offices dying from lack of salt intake and they'd tell you to cut back even further.

Some pharmacies have blood pressure testing machines that will tell you what you're pumping at the moment. Blood pressure cuffs for home use are cheap and it's not hard to learn how to take your own. Just test yourself, and if you find that your BP is too high, quit eating Belgian Pies, er, so much salt then.


it's plain impossible to avoid salt unless you want your food tasting bland.


There are certainly many diet recommendations that are oversimplified or just plain wrong (eg., cholesterol). A lot of these memes have come from 'dieticians', not doctors. The salt thing is not one of them. High salt intake is dangerous (and unnecessary). The evidence is overwhelming - and there are sound theoretical explanations, a notable distinction in this area.

Just because you personally get away with it (like Uncle Albert who lived to 90 and smoked fifty a day) doesn't mean anything.

Sorry TL, but that's hogwash. What's happened is that you've become so used to excessive salt that your tastes have been modified. Try going cold turkey on salt for a while. Yes, everything will taste like cardboard for a week or two. After that, you're in for a surprise. You don't need to go on a low-salt diet (that's one of those daft dietician's memes). Just keep it reasonable.


Your reading comprehension is sadly lacking. If you had bothered to read my post, you would notice that I rather explicitly stated that I avoid salt anyway -- I prefer to use quality ingredients and spices, not just dump a pile of white stuff all over my food and call it done.


Back in the ol country, high intake of salt is stated as responsible for most of heart disease -as per studies done by local and international health agencies. That plus a diet heavy on starches, low on veggies and plenty of fat.


If you're only feeling bad after hearing about pollution in Taiwan, then it is most likely psychological.

As for avoiding salt, how much spice does it take to eliminate salt completely? If I use a boatload of spices it may be the same (as the spice may already contain a little salt). So I guess the only alternative to being healthy is make everything taste like cardboard?


nonono. You're missing the point. Firstly, you don't need to stop using salt. There is no medical evidence that normal individuals benefit from a low-salt diet. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that a diet that contains way too much salt puts you at risk. It's just a matter of degree.

If you stop adding salt to your food temporarily, your tastes will readjust. I can assure you it will - I've tried it myself. Things will only taste bland for a matter of weeks. You will then start to experience new flavours that you didn't know existed, because you'd been swamping them in salt. Later, you can add salt to taste as necessary, but you'll find yourself adding a lot less than before. Sometimes I don't add any at all, because I don't need to.

Give it a try. It's an interesting experiment, if nothing else.

Incidentally, you can pull the same trick with sugar. Stop adding sugar entirely for a few weeks (I had to use artificial sweeteners for a while). Your taste for sugar will permanently change, and you'll find yourself eating less of it; not because you think its "healthy", but simply because you don't want/need to.


Boy, this thread has taken a weird turn, but don't they all?

Anyway, I second what finley said:

I've tried these both and they have worked great. I was more successful with salt than sugar, but I think that's because sugar is more addictive. I still eat the occasional ice cream or chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth. But my salt intake has gone way down. My BP has also gone way down - don't know if it's directly related, but why care?

All in all, I think the simpler my diet becomes, the better I feel. This has also included cooking a lot of my own meals.

And, while I'm doing that, I worry less about air pollution (just to bring the topic back around)


-The air pollution isn't bad in Taiwan.

-I eat healthier in Taiwan. Try eating healthy in North America, there is a reason every there is a fat blob. And don't even get me started on the additives in food.

-I am more active in Taiwan, more chance to play sports and exercise.

-I travel more internationally being based in Taiwan.

-I get sexually aroused more in Taiwan (this has proven to add years to your life)>

-Living overseas gives you access to the best of all worlds.

This thread is false, misguided and prejudicial. :2cents:


Eh, another cause of high blood pressure is not enough sleep/not enough good quality sleep. Keep on sleeping in anoisy environmemnt,m don't get your REMs and you'll be prime candidate for a stroke.

I do agree, though, that we can eat a healthy diet in Taiwan thanks to the availability of a variety of veggies and fuits. If we add a combine East/West diet and avoid too much fried stuff, well, the result is much more optimal quality of life.

Moreover, looking at pretty things also enhances your health. There are studie sthat back this up. So less looking at the urban landscape and more looking at the mountains or local inhabitants that cause your heart to go pit pat -or even foreign tourists with long hairy legs in short shorts.



I have been trying to reduce the amount of salt/soy sauce in my foods... I guess I will try reducing them further. When eating at restaurants you don't really get a lot of choice because it varies from way too much to not enough.