It’s becoming apparent that macrobiotics is the healthiest approach to diet and lifestyle. I’ve spent the past 43 years developing and refining the best possible ways to achieve the maximum benefits from this way of eating and living. A student of mine once said that no one can dispute that the practice of yoga is more than just a physical practice around movement and stretching. Yoga is based around a core of spiritual beliefs that guide the practice. The same can be said about macrobiotics. The development and cultivation of a deep sense of appreciation for food and all of life guides and completes the practice. In a practical sense, we emphasize an orderly and structured approach to eating and living.
The most important aspect of these practices grows from a desire to be healthy. The approach that we take helps people rediscover their natural appetite that leads to lasting health. We stress eating habits as much as food choices so we can experience deeper satisfaction from our meals and greater enjoyment of our food. I’ve compiled this list of things to keep in mind to move you in the direction of health. Use this guide as a primer for planning anything from meals, to menus, to outlining goals for transforming your lifestyle practices.
—good eating habits lead to healthier food choices and greater satisfaction
—orderliness and regularity with our eating habits leads to an increase in openness and variety
—balance perpetuates itself
—our sense of balance comes from aligning with nature’s orderly cycles
—indigenous and local foods create the strongest connection to the environment
—format meals around grains, beans, vegetables, and local, seasonal fruits at home or away
—have vegetable soup with one meal every day
—emphasize life-related activities (such as walking outside, cleaning, or taking the stairs)
—surround yourself with green plants in rooms where you spend time
—create a strong and nurturing support network
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Dr. John McDougall recently posted a blog about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy. Immediately after reading, I was so inspired to elaborate on some of his ideas. I admire Dr. McDougall because he presents research in understandable terms, but in experience with my clients I have seen that there are other necessary dietary recommendations that he failed to elaborate upon. He is rightfully one of the medical superstars in our popular culture.
I am aligned with him in thinking that although problems such as breast cancer are large and terrifying, and the solution can be far less difficult and far more enjoyable than it seems. My experience, through my business as a healthcare practitioner, is that health is natural. The body wants to be healthy. We need good food, good activity, and a good attitude, but people don’t know what this means. Too much information and too much unqualified instruction exists. I went back and found a testimonial from a client and remembered how much impact concise and correct information can do. After consulting with me about/for her diagnosis of breast cancer, her medical records now conclude she has had an unexplainable disappearance of cancer. This is why Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy concerns me. Woman make these types of decisions to drastically alter their body in order to prevent cancer. But according to the ground breaking research by T. Collin Campbell, there is another option. He proved that nutrition controls the nature of our health.
Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, proves that nutrition controls the way that genes express themselves by demonstrating that diet activates gene markers. In essence, we turn on the cancer genes by eating unhealthful foods. He even discovered an upper limit for animal and dairy protein as well, which is ten percent of the diet. When less than ten percent of the protein in our diet is animal and dairy based, we turn off our cancer genes. The confusion lies in, “What is healthy?” Most people think they are eating well, but they’re not practicing the right behavior to cultivate health.
Some of the foods that most consider harmful, are actually helpful. Traditional soy products such as miso, tofu and tempeh protect against harmful estrogen. Japanese woman have the one of the lowest rates of breast cancer in the world…What do they eat regularly? Tofu and miso soup.
The main culprit that turns on the genes necessary for breast cancer: cow’s dairy. This includes milk, cheese, butter, ice cream and especially yogurt which is so popular theses days. As infants we need our mother’s milk to promote growth, but as adults we’re not trying to grow at a rapid rate. Dairy confuses our system. From your own experience, you can probably relate to how dairy contributes to the severity of skin problems and allergies. When you stop eating dairy within a short time, you feel better.
In macrobiotics, we discuss emotional health as it parallels to nutrition. In my practice, the breast cancer victims have a commonality in that their underlying philosophy is to over nurture others at their own expense. Cancer is a disease of overdevelopment, not deficiency. So, this makes sense that the breast, an organ used for nurturing, would house cancer in over nurturing people. Alarm bells go off in my head when I hear parents say, “I need to do this for my children.” I help them to understand that the most lovable thing they can do it nurture themselves too. I tell them to put on their own oxygen mask FIRST.
People who take the time to nurture themselves through food and lifestyle become happier. I think this is because they experience control over their health.
So here are my suggestions on how gain some control back in preventing and recovering from breast cancer:
- Eat at regular times without skipping meals. Regular meals regulate all the body’s function, including the hormonal system.
- Center your diet on whole grain products, beans, vegetables, soups and other plant based foods. They nourish our body and mind properly on all levels. Humanity evolved through eating grains and plant based foods, why stop now?
- Lastly, eat local foods. Turn off your cancer genes by embracing your natural environment. If you live in a temperate climatic zone, then eat fruits that originate in this zone. For example: apples, peaches, pears, berries and melons.
One sidenote: If you are worried about developing breast cancer, avoid night shades like potatoes and tomatoes because they are highly acidifying. Acid weakens our blood, lymph system, and our ability to absorb nutrients.
Other foods and activity that are particularly helpful:
Eat our two most important grains: brown rice and millet. Try quickly steamed greens like kale, broccoli, and bok choy served with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Eat miso soup every day (even instant miso soup is great if you can’t find real miso easily). And be sure to walk outside. Walking is great for helping the body eradicate upper body complications. All natural and life-related exercise is helpful including gardening, cleaning and yoga. Begin this practice everyday: Rub the wrist, hands and fingers; feet, ankles and toes; face and neck. Use a warm cloth to activate the circulation and improve the movement of lymph. Peripheral stimulation activates lymph, so gently do this on your skin for at least ten minutes a day.
I’ve helped woman gain their health back after breast cancer. If you are interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject write
Your Name: Nutrition to Yield breast health.
Please also check out Susan Waxman’s blog for recipes and more information on breast health.
We all know the value of a good nights sleep. We are told about it from when we were young and the value of a good nights sleep just appeals to our common sense. Unfortunately, an ever increasing number of people have difficulty sleeping, difficulty waking up and getting out of bed or just not feeling refreshed and ready for the day upon waking. There is mounting evidence that our diet affects our sleep.
A lack of sleep is associated with an increased number of accidents while driving or at work, chronic degenerative illnesses and obesity. When we feel tired even our food does not taste the same and we are likely to eat foods that we would not think of eating when we are well rested. When we feel tired our memory is not as sharp, we get irritated more easily and often do not experience the same degree of appreciation for life as we usually do. Sleep affects all aspects of our life and well-being.
In Oriental medicine and diagnosis, which is the basis of my macrobiotic counseling practice for more than 40 years, opposites show each other. The day shows the night and the night shows the day. In other words, the combination of our diet and eating habits during the day regulate the quality of our sleep at night. One of the most common things that I hear from my clients is how much better they are sleeping from following my recommendations. They also report on better energy, mood and a sense of well-being.
Please follow these steps to steadily improve the quality of your sleep and overall well-being.
Eat at regular times without skipping meals. See my previous blog.
Stop eating three hours before getting into bed.
Eat a plant based diet including a variety of unrefined grains and grain products, beans, vegetables, soups and other foods. This will help even if your diet is not exclusively plant based.
Walk outside for at least a half hour a day. It can be a combined half hour. All outdoor activity is helpful especially when surrounded by nature.
If you have a sedentary job, take regular breaks from sitting to walk around and stretch.
Keep green plants in your bedroom.
Even small steps can start to make a difference in your sleep. Just get a start in the areas you are comfortable with.
I find it interesting that everything that I thought was healthy for more than forty years is now reported to be harmful or at least not beneficial to our health. These are the same things I have been consuming personally and recommending to my family, friends and clients during this time. I am not much of a conspiracy theorist, but this seems to be too much of a coincidence for my natural skepticism.
Grain is the most important food on the planet for so many reasons. I will not explore all the reasons at this time. All of the world’s long-standing civilizations developed around grain cultivation and are also synonymous with the grains that they ate. You cannot separate rice from Asia, corn from the Americas or bread from Europe, for example.
The gluten grains, wheat and barley, are two of two world’s principal grains and have been cultivated and consumed for more than 10,000 years. Now, an increasing number of people have gluten sensitivity or gluten allergies. More recently modern wheat has come under attack because it has been overly hybridized.
I cannot argue that many people have various types of reactions from eating these grains in many forms and feel better by avoiding them. It may be that these grains alone are not the problem. It is more likely that our food combinations and methods of preparation are the real causes of the reactions.
I have used these grains in my macrobiotic healing practice for many years with positive results. I have also witnessed many people loose their food sensitivities over time. It has been my long-time observation that the combination of dairy foods and fructose is behind most allergies. Any type of dairy from cheese to yogurt together with fructose in the form of concentrated fruit sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar or honey are the basis of these allergic reactions. Tropical fruits and animal foods, especially poultry, tuna and shell fish compound these problems. Cold dairy such as cold milk, yogurt and ice cream together with cold drinks also seem to worsen the harmful effects.
I have also found out that when these grains are refined, baked or toasted they cause stronger reactions than when they are consumed in their whole or cracked form. When grains, including whole grain products, are exposed to dry heat through baking or toasting they react more like simple sugars in our body and worsen the reaction from these grains. Many people with gluten sensitivity can eat whole wheat or barley without an allergic or inflammatory response if they are cooked together with brown rice.
It now turns out that brown rice, another of the worlds principal grains is not safe because of arsenic contamination. I have already published my thoughts on this in three previous blogs and I hope that you will continue to enjoy organic brown rice as part of your healthy way of eating.
Soy has been under attack for quite some time now and I will write more fully on this subject in a future blog. I have also regularly used the traditional soy products, miso, shoyu, tofu, tempeh and natto in my macrobiotic counseling practice with excellent results. These products actually have a balancing and protective effect on our hormonal systems. They protect against harmful estrogens. On the other hand, texturized vegetable protein (TVP) and other non-traditional soy products do not have these same benefits.
Finally, the Stanford study that claimed organic foods are not more beneficial than commercial foods has been discredited. Common sense tells us that foods grown naturally in healthy soil are beneficial to those not yet born, babies, children, adults, animals, plants and the environment.
It is my hope that common sense and collective human experience will guide science in the coming years and that respect for local and sustainable practices will continue to grow and prosper.
I just finished reading a blog that was very hard for me to read for so many reasons. It is beyond my belief how many woman suffer from breast cancer with no end in sight. The fact that this situation, despite all of the time and money spent and lives lost, has not improved in 25 years, defies all reason and common sense. My frustration is hard to contain that so few laypeople and medical people alike are willing to look at recent recent research and discoveries that align with our common sense and can reverse this debilitating crisis.
T. Collin Campbell in his groundbreaking book, The China Study, presents his research and discoveries in a clear, readable and concise manner. His research documents every word I say in my book, The Great Life Diet. My book is the practical handbook for applying and implementing Dr. Campbell’s research in your daily life.
According to Dr. Campbell, the consumption of animal and dairy protein are the main cause of our epidemic of degenerative diseases including cancer. His research is compelling. When the combination of animal and dairy protein reaches 10 per cent or more of our diet, cancer genes are turned on. When we decrease the consumption of these foods below 10 percent, these same markers are turned off. Casein, or dairy protein present in cheese, milk and their products is the most harmful. In other words, diet can cause or reverse cancer, all types of cancer, not just breast cancer. The main cause of our epidemic of degenerative diseases is on our dinner plates and most of us just simply choose to ignore this fact. The dietary causes of breast cancer are also within our ability to control.
Health is natural. It is not the result of science or medicine. Health is the natural result of a healthy diet, activity and attitude. A healthy diet is plant based together with good eating habits. Healthy activity means a variety enjoyable and challenging activities. It includes all life related activities, such as walking or carrying things, especially outdoor activities. A healthy attitude is open, curious and full of gratitude.
From the macrobiotic viewpoint, cancer is caused by a chronic imbalance in our diet and activity. Our attitudes and even our view of life affect our daily choices. It is the combination of these factors that can change our direction towards health or sickness. I have used this multifaceted approach of diet, activity and attitude, with my clients over many years with great success.
I think it is time to take a new and open approach to our ever increasing number of health problems. It is time to do the things on a daily basis whether our choice is to include modern medicine or not. A healthier diet and activity together with an open, flexible and appreciative mind will support all areas of our health and life.
I just finished reading this blog on metabolism and it brought a number of things to mind for me. I have heard many people’s stories about exercising on a regular basis and loosing little to no weight. I have also heard stories about personal trainers who could not loose the bulge in their mid-section. There seems to be a contradiction here or maybe something is missing. In most cases, exercise alone is not enough to regulate our weight or trim our waist lines. If this is due to our sluggish metabolism then how can we remedy the situation and maintain a healthy weight?
Having a problem with our weight is a symptom of an imbalance in our diet and activity. Carrying excess weight is not the problem, it is the symptom of an overall imbalance. We have created this imbalance because of a lack of understanding about the relationship between diet, eating habits and activity in our life. This is why attempts to loose weight do not work in most cases. Weight loss techniques or methods are temporary at best for most people.
A healthy metabolism, our ability to digest foods, absorb their nutrition and eliminate the excess efficiently, is the key to maintaing a healthy weight. Diet is the missing link. Our metabolism is regulated by the two factors, the time we start our meals and what we eat. In addition to a healthy diet and eating habits, exercise helps as long as it does not make us overeat or crave more rich foods and sweets. The wrong exercise or pushing to hard can backfire and actually make us gain weight. I like to encourage a variety in daily activities before implementing a structured exercise program.
Through my macrobiotic counseling practice, I have helped many hundreds of people loose weigh and keep it off with these simple health practices. Finding a healthy, satisfying way of eating is the key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. I would like to make a few suggestions that can help you solve your weight problems once and for all.
Plan your meals around cooked whole grains and vegetable dishes.
Eat a serving of steamed greens daily.
Sit down to eat your meals or snacks without working, TV or reading.
Start eating your breakfast by 9 am at the latest.
Stop eating 3 hours before going to bed.
Walk outside for at least 30 minutes a day.
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.
I am a recent convert to yoga. It has been a little over a year since I attended my first class. I resisted practicing yoga for many years for some reason that is still not clear to me. It seems that since my 60th birthday has passed, I have found a new openness to many things that did not interest me before.
Last spring my wife Susan came home after attending a yoga class near our house. She started to talk about the class and the teacher. Her excitement peaked my interest and I joined her for the next class. I was hooked after my first class! It was an Anusara yoga class and the instructor was Sarah Robinson. I was immediately impressed by her warmth and expertise and have continued to attend classes whenever possible. At a recent class Sarah excitedly talked about an inspiring Youtube she had seen titled, Never, Ever Give Up. Arthur’s Inspirational Transformation! It is a Youtube about hope and the power of a yoga practice. I found the video to be highly inspiring and definitely worth the nearly five minutes it takes to watch it. Sarah was amazed at how many yoga instructors turned this gentleman away without even trying to help him. After watching the video I shared her amazement.
Macrobiotics is also about hope. It gave me hope when I needed to change my life. Before starting my macrobiotic journey I was not physically ill, I had a far more serious problem. I was lost and could not find any meaning in life. From the time I was a young teenager I was aimlessly searching for a meaningful direction in life. Reading George Ohsawa’s books, attending a Michio Kushi lecture and improving my way of eating gave me hope. these changes also gave me the clarity, vitality and confidence I was searching for to live a more meaningful life. Now, as a macrobiotic counselor, I experience the power and importance of hope in a different way. I can see my clients transform before my eyes when I tell them that they can recover from their problems if they are willing to practice this healthy diet and lifestyle.
I have also found that hope alone is usually not enough for a total transformation. Hope needs to be combined with beneficial lifestyle practices. In my macrobiotic healing practice over many years I have found that the combination of diet, orderly lifestyle practice and activity have the most powerful results.
Miso is a unique food. It is a fermented soybean paste often made with brown rice or barley as well. It is used as a seasoning in various types of sauces, spreads, soups, and for pickling other foods such as vegetables, tofu or fish. Miso soup has become very popular in recent years. A good bowl of miso soup leaves you with a wonderfully satisfied feeling that is soothing, calming and strengthening at the same time. Miso is a very nourishing food that aids digestion and strengthens our blood.
Miso soup made with wakame seaweed and leafy green vegetables is a wonderful source of high quality protein, B-vitamins, calcium and other minerals. It also provides protection from environmental pollution from the air, heavy metals and even radiation. In Oriental medicine, it is used to promote digestive and reproductive health.
There are many types of miso to choose from. In macrobiotics we use three main types of miso for maintaing health and for healing: soybean/Hatcho miso, barley miso or brown rice miso. The two that I recommend most in my counseling practice are barley and brown rice miso. Hatcho miso seems to be too strong for regular use.
From a macrobiotic perspective Hatcho miso is the most strengthening. Barley miso also has a more deeply nourishing and strengthening effect on our health, though not quite as strong as Hatcho. Brown rice miso is the most relaxing and soothing. It depends on our health and desires to decide which miso is best for regular use.
We can use the principle of yin and yang to understand the nature of each. Soybeans are the most yin food of the group followed by barley and then brown rice. Since soybeans are by far the most yin they have the ability to absorb more yang and become stronger and more yang over time. Barley is more yin than brown rice. Using the same principle, barley miso has the capacity to become substantially more yang than brown rice miso over time. All types of miso have a strong polarity of yin and yang elements, which gives them the ability to balance out extremes. Miso can balance out the harmful effects from animal foods, dairy foods, sweets, alcohol and many pollutants.
It is easy to think that a stronger miso is a better choice. This is not the case. We are after balance. If we move to either extreme too strongly, we can harm our health. For people that ate too many animal foods, well-cooked and salty foods, brown rice miso may be the best choice to help lighten their condition. The sweet richness of brown rice miso can effectively balance out the harmful effects from meat, hard-salty cheese and baked foods. It has a more relaxing, calming and soothing effect on us. If we became depleted from too many sweets, alcohol or other weakening foods, barley miso may be the better choice. It is more deeply nourishing and strengthening and can more easily cancel out excesses and extremes of yin. Simply speaking, barley miso for strength, warmth and activity, and brown rice miso for relaxation and unwinding.
Experiment with the various types of miso and try to observe their effects on your digestion, vitality and overall feeling of well being. You can also blend two types of miso for a unique effect.
Didn’t get the chance to participate in last week’s Twitter contest to win $100 off a macrobiotic consultation? Never fear, you have a second chance this week.
Here’s what you do:
Follow @dennywaxman on Twitter and “Like” Denny Waxman on Facebook, if you’re not doing so already. Next, answer the question, @dennywaxman why do you love macrobiotics? between 8 am and 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, February 29, 2012. Be sure to include @dennywaxman and the hashtag #strengtheninghealthmacrobiotics in your response.
What do you win? One lucky person will win $100 off a macrobiotic consultation with Denny Waxman. The winner will be announced via Twitter. See rules here: http://dennywaxman.com/blog/index.php/2012/02/20/twitter-wednesdays/