Your Brown Rice and Arsenic Safety Checklist

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In a previous blog I made some recommendations to help protect against any possible harmful side effects from arsenic in brown rice. I wanted to post an expanded list since I have received some new information. A friend sent this article to me that was published in The Chicago Tribune. This article contains valuable information that has caused me to rethink the best ways of getting the enjoyment, satisfaction and value from eating brown rice while avoiding any potential harm from arsenic contamination. Please take the time to review the Chicago Tribune article. I have included the suggestions below that I found most helpful.

Try these recommendations to mitigate any potential harmful affects from arsenic in brown rice.
Choose organic brown rice from California. It is reported to have lower levels of arsenic than rice from other states.
Rinse your rice thoroughly before cooking it to help reduce arsenic contamination. This will help unless local water has hight levels of arsenic.
Check your municipal water report. This is a link to the Philadelphia Water Department.
Soak your brown rice overnight and cook it in fresh water rather than the soaking water.
Eat brown rice once a day, or almost daily, and not at every meal.
Cook brown rice with other grains such as barley, millet, wheat, faro or bulgur, etc.
Cook brown rice with beans or a combination of other grains and beans.

There are a number of natural chelating foods that we recommend as part of a varied macrobiotic lifestyle. Try to regularly consume miso soup and incorporate sea vegetables like wakame and kombu into your meals. I hope this helps you to continue enjoying your brown rice.

1 Comment | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics

More on Diabetes and Alzheimer’s

Posted on by Denny Waxman

When I think about our children I worry. We want our children to grow up to be healthy and happy. We want our children to live long, exciting and hopefully prosperous lives. Despite claims about our increasing longevity, this generation of children is the first that will live shorter lives than their parents.

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last thirty years. It is estimated that one third of the present generation of our children will develop diabetes. Diabetes greatly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, nerve system disease, blindness and amputations. It is not a pretty disease.

I just finished reading the NY Times blog by Mark Bittman, “Is Alzheimer’s Type 3 Diabetes?” Mr. Bittman’s blog makes perfect sense to me. The pancreas is our deepest organ. The deepest parts of the pancreas produce and secrete insulin. In diabetes the pancreas is not producing enough insulin or our cells are not using it properly.

In macrobiotics as well as Oriental medicine all organs are seen as having a complementary organ or being part of a system. Problems in one side of this complementary relationship effect the other. For example, the lungs and large intestine. The lungs process gas, the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The intestines process liquids, the absorption of water and water soluble vitamins (B & C) and then form our bowels for elimination. Problems in one side of the pair signal problems in the other as well. Digestive and lung problems are understood to be closely associated in macrobiotics.

The digestion system and our brain is another complementary system. Our brain processes vibrations, thoughts and memories. In other words, our ability to think, figure things out and remember. The ability of our digestive system to process solid and liquid foods, absorb the nutrients and eliminate the excess regulates our minds ability to process thoughts. The pancreas specifically is associated with our intellect.

The pancreas is harmed by strong animal foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, hard cheese, tuna and shell fish. It is also harmed by refined carbohydrates, simple sugars, especially fructose, soft dairy foods like ice cream and yogurt, tropical fruits especially bananas and iced drinks or cold foods and beverages. In other words, our modern, fast food diet.

The pancreas processes food into energy for life. It regulates our physical nourishment. Our brain process this nourishment vibrationally to guide our life. Our poor diets and lack of natural activity are destroying our health physically and mentally.

Simply speaking, excessive and poor quality animal foods overexcite and eventually exhaust our pancreas. Dairy foods dull our thinking ability and sugar, refined carbohydrates and tropical fruits consumed in colder, temperate climatic regions erase our memories.

Whether you look at this problem from an eastern or western view the end result is very similar. Our modern diet and lifestyle are destroying us physically and mentally and these two problems cannot be separated.

There is a solution to this problem that I discuss in my book, The Great Life Diet. My approach to health is based on adding, not taking away. Complex carbohydrates found in grains, beans an vegetables regulate our pancreas as well as our thinking ability and memory. Systematically reintroduce whole unrefined grains, beans, vegetable dishes, salads, soups, nuts, seeds and fruits into your diet. Start to get more natural outdoor activity. Then just let nature run its course. Health craves health. Eating more healthy foods helps to cultivate our appetite for more healthy foods. Healthy helps us to want more natural outdoor activity. Sound too easy to be true? Try it for a few weeks and let me know.

2 Comments | Tags: 7 Steps, Adjusting Your Diet, Diabetes, Macrobiotic Diet

Preliminary Thoughts on Arsenic and Brown Rice

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I am not a scientist, researcher or medical doctor, my background is in macrobiotics. Over the past forty years I have studied and applied the relationship between diet and health to help many people maintain lasting health and recover from illness. This blog is based on my personal observations and experience.

I have been eating brown rice on a regular basis during these forty years. All of my children were nourished by brown rice daily in the womb. My children were also raised on brown rice on a daily basis until they went out on their own. So far, my two grandchildren are following this same pattern. All of my children seem to be thriving in every way.

I have also observed this pattern in my clients and students over the years. They all seem to thrive on eating brown rice on a regular or daily basis. I can observe daily changes in people who attend our Intensive Seminars at the Strengthening Health Institute, eating brown rice one to two times a day.

It is possible that the phytic acid in whole, unrefined grains and beans provide protection against heavy metal pollutants, including arsenic. Research has shown that the phytic acid in the bran of grains can incapsulate heavy metals, render them inert, and eliminate them from our bodies. Some people have charged that phytic acid may also interfere with the absorption of essential minerals including iron, calcium and zinc. I doubt this is the case with the Strengthening Health approach to macrobiotics because so many of my clients have recovered from anemia and also remineralized their bones while eating whole grains with every meal. In almost every case, my clients, in all age ranges, tell me that their blood tests are the healthiest that their doctor have ever seen.

Arsenic is a residual poison. The effects accumulate over time. If the levels of arsenic in organic brown rice are harmful, I do not know how to account for the benefits that so many people have realized over the years through eating this grain on a daily basis. It seems to me that the benefits of eating brown rice greatly outweigh any potential risks.

If you are concerned, try these recommendations to mitigate any potential harmful affects from arsenic in brown rice.
Soak your brown rice overnight and cook it in fresh water rather than the soaking water.

Eat brown rice once a day, or almost daily, and not at every meal.
Cook brown rice with other grains such as barley, millet, wheat, faro or bulgur, etc.
Cook brown rice with beans or a combination of other grains and beans.

Now that the question has been asked, more research will appear. As I find scientific proof or gain some new insights, I will pass this information along to you. In the meantime, I hope you continue to enjoy your brown rice on many levels.

1 Comment | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotic Diet

Seaweed For Your Health and Enjoyment

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Vegetables are largely forgotten in our modern diet. I always find it interesting that when I come to the check-out counter with my basket of organic vegetables, I usually have to tell the cashier what the vegetables are. I assume that people working in health food stores are more enlightened than the average person when it comes to fruits and vegetables. I often wonder how many vegetables the average person on the street could identify let alone how many they have eaten in the previous year. Eating a variety of vegetables on a daily basis is strange or foreign to many people.

I do not find it surprising that seaweed or sea vegetables seem even stranger and more foreign than vegetables produced on the land. Seaweed in usually associated with macrobiotics and Japanese or Asian diets. It is one of the foods that makes macrobiotics seem Japan-centric. Seaweed has a long history as both a food and agricultural fertilizer. It has been used for many thousands of years in all island countries and coastal regions of the world. Like salt, various groups of people have also pilgrimaged for seaweed. Both nutrients originally come from the sea and are important for maintaining a healthy, mildly alkaline condition in our blood.

Seaweed is one of the foods that everyone grows to love. When I tell that to people they often look at me in disbelief. I have seen so many of my clients and students that could not stand the taste or smell of seaweed in the beginning, later tell me how much they craved and looked forward to eating it. My experience is that taste is biological even more than it is cultural. As our health improves our taste changes. Healthy people enjoy and are satisfied by healthy foods.

Seaweed has numerous health and nutritional benefits. It is an importance source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, iodine, calcium, magnesium and iron. Seaweed is a filter in the sea and also helps to filter and detoxify our blood. It regulates fat metabolism and can help to lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Sea vegetables have also shown to block or reduce tumor formation. Seaweed is also important for hormonal and reproductive health. They also have the ability to encapsulate heavy metals, render them inert and eliminate them from our body. Seaweed has also shown to replace radioactive elements in our body including radioactive iodine in our thyroid and strontium 90 in our bones. Like salt, too much seaweed is not beneficial. It is best to use sea vegetables in small quantities, on a regular basis.

The following is a list of seaweeds you may like to include in your diet.

Toasted Nori is ideal for nori rolls and crumpled in soups, fried rice and noodles. It is refreshing, good for our blood and helps children grow. Your dogs and cats will love it too! Try adding 2 to 3 sheets a week into your diet.

Wakame is great in miso soups and salads or can be sautéed with vegetables. Use a 1 to 2 inch piece a few or several times a week. Soak until it expands before using it in your dishes. Miso soup with Wakame seaweed and leafy greens is a wonderful source of calcium. It is also important for reproductive, digestive and circulatory systems.

Arame makes a tasty side dish and is usually cooked with onions, carrots to bring out its sweet and rich taste. It can be used 2 to 3 times a week. Arame is thought to block tumor formation and aid in digestive health.

Kombu can be cooked with beans to make them more tender and digestible. It adds a wonderful flavor to soups and vegetable dishes. it is important to use Kombu in small pieces, around the size of a postage stamp or two.

Dulse is good in salads and sandwiches. It adds a salty, zesty taste and is a good source of iron.

Experiment and enjoy. You can find recipes in macrobiotic cook books, online or in seminars at the Strengthening Health Institute.

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotic Counseling, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics, Recipes

Detox and Renew Each Night While You Sleep

Posted on by Denny Waxman

People often ask how long it will take to experience the benefits of their dietary and lifestyle improvements. It is easy to think that it will be quite some time until the benefits are felt. This is not the case. What we do today we experience tomorrow and the benefits accumulate day by day. This is how the process works.


During the day we are nourished and energized by the suns’ energy. We naturally feel more bright and energetic on sunny days. It is often hard do get going or be clear-minded on cloudy, humid days. The foods we eat during the day nourish us on physical, emotional and mental levels.

At night we are charged and nourished more by the energy from stars, planets and constellations. While we are sleeping we use the food consumed during the day to clean and maintain our body and restore our health. We also recharge our organs and nervous system using this celestial energy. Finally, before waking, we gather the physical and energetic excess from the foods we consumed during the previous day and try to eliminate this excess in the morning after we rise. This is the purpose of our morning stretching and bathroom routines. If we have a healthy diet and activity, our health is improved and renewed each day by this cleaning, recharging and detoxifying process. Healthy foods, activity and lifestyle practices help these processes to work efficiently.

When we start to create better eating habits and eat healthier foods we start to experience the benefits almost immediately. In my experience and observation we can start to see the benefits in two to three days. In our Intensive Seminars at the Strengthening Health Institute I observe these changes in people every time we hold a seminar. I am always careful to observe the changes in each participant each day. Even though I have seen this process occur thousands of times over the years, I never cease to be amazed. Seeing and experiencing these positive changes in people is one of the most amazing benefits of trying to teach others to have healthier lives.

What you eat today, becomes you tomorrow! Activity further charges and activates the energy and nourishment from healthy foods. This is why the combination of healthy food and activity is the most effective. It is the reason that any effort towards our health is worth the time. One meal a week, one day or the rest of our life.

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, SHI Happenings

Macrobiotics – Something For Everyone

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I am reading “Diet For The Atomic Age” by Sara Shannon. It is not a pleasant read in some ways, though it is very important and timely. It is interesting that it was published in 1987 and has an even more important message today. Sara lists a number of foods and categories of foods that are protective against low-level radiation. We are all exposed to low-level radiation every day through leaking or damaged nuclear plants, bomb testing in the past, airport body scanners, medical diagnosis and treatments. The effects of low level radiation are cumulative and are a concern to everyone, especially pregnant women, the young and those with weakened immune systems.

This list of foods that Sara Shannon recommends are very familiar to me; whole grains, vegetables especially cruciferous, beans, miso, tofu and tempeh, sea vegetables, seeds and nuts. These all happen to be staples of the macrobiotic diet and lifestyle that macrobiotic practitioners have been eating for many years. Many of the foods that are associated with macrobiotic practice are also the most protective against radiation. For example, short or medium grain brown rice, Azuki beans, green and black lentils, well aged barley or Hatcho soybean miso, umeboshi plums, sauerkraut and Kukicha, Bancha Twig Tea, to name a few.

Macrobiotic teachers and practitioners have been recommending an organic, local and seasonal plant based diet for more than fifty years. We also recognize the importance of respecting and preserving traditions and our environment. As I mentioned in my previous blog, our daily dietary and lifestyle choices influence society, the environment and climate. Whether you are into Slow Foods, local, traditional, organic, mindfulness practice, yoga or none of the above you will still derive enormous value from adopting these foods into your diet.

My experience as a macrobiotic counselor and teacher over many years has shown me that there is something for everyone in macrobiotic practice. If you want to lessen or possibly avoid medical treatments, you will benefit from these foods and lifestyle practices. If you want to make your medical treatments more effective, you will benefit from adding these foods into your diet. If you want to protect yourself from some of the harmful side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy you will also benefit from these same foods. If you want to heal more quickly and experience less pain from broken bones or surgeries, you will benefit. If you are a gourmet and want the most delicious and satisfying foods your taste buds will benefit. If you want to loose weight, look and feel better these foods will also help.

My approach to macrobiotic practice is based on adding and not taking away. You can be a one meal a week, one day a week or full time macrobiotic practitioner. We will all benefit from these additions. 


No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, Macrobiotic Diet, Weight

Seven Things I Believe In

Posted on by Denny Waxman

These are some things that I have been thinking about recently that I wanted to share with you.

1. Everyone has the right to health and happiness. Unfortunately in our country the majority of people do not enjoy these basic rights. There is a severe lack of the understanding of the basic principles that create strong and lasting health. So much of the information available is confusing, misleading or just plain wrong. Many people also do not have easy or affordable access to healthy food choices.

2. Your body wants to be healthy. Health is more natural than sickness. It takes about 10% to 15% of the time to return to health as it did to become sick. Even if we have spent a lifetime abusing our body and getting sick, our health starts to return quickly from dietary and lifestyle adjustments. As a macrobiotic consultant, my clients often tell me how amazed they are with their health improvements in a short time. Even after two to three weeks they report sleeping better, better bowel movements, more energy, more enjoyment and satisfaction from their meals and feeling more positive, motivated and inspired.

3. Health is a direction in life. Health or sickness is a direction not a state. Every day we are moving towards health or sickness. Health is not a static condition. It develops though our daily habits. Sickness is the same. The combination of a good diet and eating habits, activity and lifestyle practices over time move us towards health. We all have the ability to improve our health on all levels day by day through these lifestyle choices. It is unfortunate that most people are unnecessarily moving towards sickness each day due to a lack of understanding of these basic principles.

4. Health is simple. We do not need to do special or complicated things to be healthy. Good food, good activity and a good attitude are the basis of strong and lasting health. Good food means a varied plant based diet, local when possible. Good activity includes anything that is life-related; walking outside, taking the stairs, cleaning, dancing, yoga, mindfulness practice, meditation, outdoor recreational activities and sports for fun and self challenge, rather than professional sports. The Strengthening Health approach to macrobiotics helps create a good attitude. A good attitude means that we try to be positive and open to the possibility of change and creating lasting health. It also includes the development in the confidence of our ability to create our own health.

5. Lasting health is a spiritual condition. Spiritual health, the cultivation of endless appreciation for all of life, leads to mental, emotional and physical health. Health starts with a spiritual revolution that leads to changes in our daily habits and attitudes. This process does not work in the opposite direction. Physical training alone does not lead to mental and emotional development and refinement.

6. Your daily choices influence society, the climate and environment. What you do for yourself, you also do for others. The process of self love and caring through our daily choices, activities and attitudes also influence others. Eating a plant based diet ensures that there will be enough food for everyone on our planet. There is enough food when we eat the grains and beans directly rather than feed them mainly to animals. Eating a plant based diet preserves precious natural resources, especially water and land. It also greatly decreases pollution and green house gases that contribute to global warming. According to recent research most modern diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many common cancers are preventable or reversible with a plant based diet. There are many other benefits that I will discuss in the future.

7. Two important changes have occurred in the last couple years that will allow large-scale change to happen. I have wondered for many years if these ideas can become mainstream and start to create large-scale changes in our society. I have hoped I could see these changes in my lifetime but often doubted that I would. Due to recent changes in our attitudes I now believe that I will be able to see and experience these changes. The relation between diet and health has become mainstream. Recent research alone has shown that eating less meat alone can make a major difference in global warming. This is a social, environmental and health practice that is open to all of us. More and more people believe that they can make a difference through their daily lifestyle choices.

2 Comments | Tags: 7 Steps, Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, Macrobiotic Philosophy

Thoughts on Japanese Foods

Posted on by Denny Waxman

As part of the macrobiotic way of life, we have enjoyed a rich cultural, philosophical and spiritual heritage from Japan. This heritage has guided many aspects of our life from our approach to cooking and eating to our overall view of life. Some aspects of this way of life, from futons to tofu and miso soup, have become mainstream. Many of the ingredients we use such as miso, shoyu and umeboshi enable a moderate to good cook to produce outstanding meals.

We also have the challenge of developing a local practice of macrobiotics by reconnecting with our local foods and traditions. I think that many people within macrobiotics have been moving towards a more local practice over the years. At the same time, local food processing and seaweed harvesting have been increasing and great strides have been made in quality and taste. This is a natural progression that is necessary for us to grow and develop our capabilities more fully. It is also necessary if we want to align with the basic premise of macrobiotics that we are one with our environment.

In my experience, some of the foods produced in Japan still have a greater healing ability than the ones we produce here. I am confident that over time that will change. Many years ago, a long-time Japanese friend told me that America has already conquered Japan in terms of tofu. He thought that American made tofu was the best. What he said rang true for me. However, we can adjust the quality of tofu day by day. Miso, shoyu and umeboshi are a different story. It takes months or years to adjust them. The time it will take to perfect these products is much longer than for tofu. After all, these foods have been perfected over hundreds or even thousands of years in the Orient.

I find the contrast between the delicacy in taste and nourishing and strengthening qualities of many of the foods from Japan amazing. It is ironic that these same foods also give us the greatest protection from radiation and other environmental pollutants. These foods, including brown rice, Azuki beans, miso, umeboshi, seaweed and kukicha tea are truly unique and amazing in terms of taste, nourishment and health benefits.

I have always understood macrobiotics as a process of redefining and reinterpreting traditional practices to see if they are appropriate and beneficial for the future. This approach gives us the ability to take what is best from the past and develop it further for the present and future. It has been my long-time dream to preserve traditional food processing from both east and west. It would be wonderful to have some of these people in Japan, who have become masters of their craft, guide us in the production of these traditional foods on our own soil. I think that this collaboration and cooperation could lead to even more unique foods over time.

Because of a lack of accurate reporting from the media on both sides of the ocean, we do not really know the degree of pollution in our foods, land or water. I think it would be a big mistake to over-react and avoid foods coming from Japan completely. It is possible that we could be going from bad to worse by doing that. I have come to rely on certain people for high quality and safe foods in the same way that people rely on me to guide their health and that of their families. I am also trying to share this information openly so that we can all make informed choices.

I am not endorsing any one person or company. I am trying to keep an open mind and I will continue to study and research this situation. After regular conversations with my brother Howard Waxman of Essene,we have decided to continue to use both Japanese and local products. I have also been in contact with Michael Potter of Eden Foods. Please read the wonderful NY Times article about him and review the link to the Eden website for further information about Japanese food safety.

We know from this wonderful philosophy we have inherited that all challenges are opportunities. It is my hope that people with understanding and integrity will join together to maneuver through these difficult times. I firmly believe that an open and informed dialogue is the best approach to guide us into the future.

2 Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics

Holy Cow, Part 2

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I just finished reading Mark Bittman’s blog in the NY Times with great interest and I could not agree more with his conclusions about the downside of drinking cow’s milk. I am happy to know that this subject has been published in a source that is so widely respected and available. Many more people will now be aware of the various harmful aspects of drinking milk.

I agree that lifelong exercise and vitamin D are essential for healthy bones. However, I would like to add that it is also important to regularly consume the foods, especially leafy greens and beans, that nourish our overall health including building strong and healthy bones. For more details on the essential foods for bone health please see my previous blog, Holy Cow, Calcium From the Source!

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, Immune System

Sit Down to Regular Meals Every Day

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In the early 1990’s I formulated Ten Steps to Strengthening Health. My first step was: Sit Down to Regular Meals Every Day. In many ways it is the most important step because it sets the stage for everything that follows. Interesting enough, it is the most difficult step for many people to follow these days. We have lost the order of day and night and meal times in our society. Meals have become an inconvenience or after-thought for most of us.

When I formulated these steps I decided to not document them. I only wanted to speak in terms of common sense. I thought that the proof and research would naturally appear over time. Recently I came across this article on late night snacking.

In my latest book, The Great Life Diet, a practical guidebook to your macrobiotic practice, I further refined and clarified these ideas. Our digestive system is not on call 24 hours a day to process foods and absorb nutrition. There are certain times when we can digest foods efficiently. These are starting times for healthy meals. Try to begin your breakfast by 9 am, lunch by 1 pm and dinner by 7:30 pm. Earlier is better when possible.

I am using metabolism to mean a three stage process; our ability to digest our food, then absorb and process the nutrients, and finally to eliminate the unused excess. Starting our meals at these times activates our metabolism so that our bodies work more efficiently on all levels and develop the ability to naturally detoxify. When we start our meals at times later than these, it actually has the opposite effect of stagnating our digestion and metabolism. Skipping meals also stagnates our metabolism.

Sitting down to regular meals regulates all of our physical, emotional and mental processes and abilities. This sounds like a bold statement. The only way you will know if it is valid and true is to eat at regular times, in the time frames that I mentioned, regularly for three weeks. Keep notes on how you feel, your vitality, mental clarity, emotions and productivity. Then start to skip meals and eat at random times again and see if there is a difference.

It has been my long-time observation that how we eat is just as important as what we eat. Eating habits set the stage for better digestion and greater enjoyment and satisfaction from our meals. Sharing our meals with family and friends amplifies all of the benefits of eating healthy foods.

No Comments | Tags: 7 Steps, Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotic Diet