A Good Night’s Sleep

Posted on by Denny Waxman

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.

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotic Counseling, Macrobiotic Diet, Uncategorized

The Importance of Eating on Time

Posted on by Denny Waxman

When I was writing my book, The Great Life Diet, I made a conscious decision to only speak in terms of common sense and not try to validate anything I said scientifically. I wanted to speak from my long-time experience and understanding about the connection between diet and health. These observations and the understanding that followed were developed over years of working with clients, together with my personal experience. I knew intuitively that over time that science would confirm and validate my understanding and observations.

I just read a blog on mealtimes and weight loss that again confirms my personal experience and observations. Our weight is as strongly influenced by the time we start our meals as it is by what and how much we eat. We cannot discount calories, but they are not the main factor that regulates our weight. Our food choices and the amount we eat are regulated by the time we start our meals.

When we eat at the proper times our metabolism becomes more active. When we eat in between meals our metabolism stagnates. I see metabolism as our ability to digest, process our food and eliminate efficiently.

Everyone knows people who eat plenty and do not gain weight even without excessive exercise or workouts. You probably also know people who do not need to eat much to start gaining weight. Both of these situations are very common. This means that other factors regulate how we use and metabolize the calories we consume.

Our digestive system is not on-call 24 hours a day to receive and process nutrition. It is only active at certain times. These times have come to be known as mealtimes and have a consistency throughout the world in similar climates.

Mealtimes align us with the rising and falling of nature’s energy and also regulate our blood sugar. Our blood sugar follows the sun’s movement. Blood sugar rises in the morning so that we can be active and gently falls in the afternoon so that we can settle down in the evening. Simply speaking, hypoglycemia means that our blood sugar cannot rise properly in the morning and falls too quickly in the afternoon. This hypoglycemic condition causes us to crave more sweet and rich foods. It imbalances our natural appetite.

Lunch is the meal that has the greatest effect on regulating our blood sugar. When we start our lunch no later than 1:00 pm our blood sugar starts to find it’s natural rhythm. The later we start our lunch the lower our blood sugar dips and the more sluggish our metabolism becomes. The same foods eaten mid afternoon cause us to gain more weight than if we would have eaten them earlier.

Please do not take my word on this. Experiment for yourself. Start your lunch everyday for at least three weeks no later than 1:00 pm. For the next three weeks start your lunch at 3:00 or 4:00 pm. Keep a record of you energy, emotions and weight and see if there is a difference. To make this experiment stronger, start you breakfast by 9:00 am and dinner by 7:30 pm consistently day by day. Try not to skip meals. Eating at the proper times activates your metabolism. Eating late and skipping meals stagnates your metabolism.

I hope these suggestions have you looking and feeling good for the spring and summer.

1 Comment | Tags: 7 Steps, Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotic Diet

Pick Me Up Vegetables

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I just read a blog about the importance of eating green and orange vegetables that I wanted to share with you. In my book, The Great Life Diet, which is a practical guide to a macrobiotic lifestyle, I define the meaning of a meal as a cooked grain or grain product and a separate vegetable dish. This includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The interaction of the grain and the separate vegetable dish provide the most complete and balanced nutrition available and consequently help us to feel the most satisfied. Grains and grain products include, brown rice, millet, barley, polenta, oatmeal, couscous, pasta, etc. You get more energy and nourishment from a vegetable when you eat it together with a grain at the same meal. The grain or grain product forms the basis of a healthy and satisfying meal and the vegetable dish creates completeness, balance and satisfaction. This combination is different from eating a grain and a vegetable cooked together in the same dish. Try them both ways at several meals to start to understand the difference.

When we have a conversation with someone each person brings something interesting out from the other person. Our conversations, topics, energy and content change with different people. It is the same with the interaction of grains and vegetables. Different combinations of these foods bring out different nutrients, energy and satisfaction.

Greens such as kale, collards, Chinese cabbage, bok choy and watercress are more uplifting and refreshing mentally and emotionally. Orange and yellow vegetables such as winter squash, carrots and sweet potatoes are more deeply satisfying and give us a consoled feeling.

Cooking styles further effect and enhance the energy and nourishment we get from our meals. Steaming is more settling, oil sautéing is more energizing and raw is more refreshing. Experiment with different cooking styles, preparations and combinations and take notice how you feel physically and mentally after each meal and at the end of the day.

During the winter cooking is more important than in the summer. During the summer we get more energy from the sun and environment. During the winter we do not have this same energy available and cooking can make up for the difference. I hope these suggestions help you get through the winter more enjoyably and ease your spring fever.

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics

Year End 2012

Posted on by Denny Waxman

At the end of every year I like to write a list of the ten most important social, environmental and personal events of that year. It is a practice that I learned from my teacher, Michio Kushi, many years ago and have found it to be a valuable practice. It serves as a basis for personal and social reflection and helps us clarify a direction for the future. The second part of this practice is to write your own list of goals for 2013.

Interestingly, nature had different plans for me this year. I was under the weather with a cold or flu for nearly three weeks. This was very unusual for me considering if I ever get sick it is for two to three days, not weeks. As a result I missed the holidays and years end for the most part. Most of these year end events remain clouded in mist for me. It is only now, a week into the new year, that I am trying to catch up and regain some clarity in my life.

The events that come to mind immediately are a bit staggering, Super Storm Sandy, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and California Proposition 37 that called for mandatory labeling of GMO foods.

In Oriental Diagnosis, which is an integral part of my healing practice, the small or part shows the large or whole. Our hands, feet, eyes or tongue can show great detail about our overall health condition and direction. This principle applies to social and environmental situations as well. I think that Super Storm Sandy and Sandy Hook Elementary School are indications of the conditions brewing socially and environmentally. It is unfortunate that these type situations will probably worsen for the foreseeable future, as they have continued to in our recent past.

I also find it amazing that Proposition 37 almost passed despite enourmous opposition from Monsanto and related companies. This indicates a change in society that will become an enourmous power over the next several years. Our right to know and our ability to choose health will become paramount.

The most important change that I have observed in society is not limited to 2012. These ideas became more observable a few years earlier and now are in the mainstream. I am referring to the relationship between diet and health. It is now widely accepted that our diet is the number one factor affecting our health and now trumps environmental and genetic factors. The second change is the relationship between food and the environment. It is finally becoming known that our daily choices in diet and lifestyle have an enourmous affect on society and the environment. The power of change is in our hands with every meal.

What is not widely known is that these ideas developed out of Boston, Mass from the macrobiotic teachings of Michio and Aveline Kushi. These ideas of local, organic, unrefined and plant based foods combined with having the ability to create our own health changed and fueled my life since 1969. They are more relevant today that ever. Now that 2012 is behind us we can start to live the lives we would like to see with renewed passion in 2013.

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics

My Most Important Discovery of 2012

Posted on by Denny Waxman

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.

No Comments | Tags: Allergies, Immune System, Macrobiotic Counseling, Macrobiotic Diet

Ending Breast Cancer, Part 2

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Yet another blog has got my attention. It is amazing how many doctors choose to ignore or disregard current and life-saving research. In this case, the dangers of serious harm caused by early detection for breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.

The end of breast cancer can be in sight with the Strengthening Health Institute taking the lead. It is widely known and accepted that cancer, including breast cancer, is diet related. The combination of diet and varied activity or healthy lifestyle practices is even more powerful. When these factors are combined with an open and positive attitude the results are even better. Give yourself the gift of health and life by attending an Intensive Seminar at the Strengthening Health Institute. Under the direction of Denny and Susan Waxman, you will begin a journey towards health. This is a life-enhancing seminar that will give you the tools and inspiration to create lasting health for you and your family. It is a perfect gift for this time of year.

No Comments | Tags: Cancer, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics and Medicine

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

Further Thoughts on Brown Rice and Arsenic

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I just read Chuck Lowery’s response to my thoughts on arsenic in brown rice with great interest. I can understand his points and also wonder if he is underestimating the power of brown rice. I have no desire to start a long debate on the merits or limitations of brown rice within macrobiotics or any healthy lifestyle. My desire is only to express my personal reasons for continuing to eat brown rice and why I also continue to recommend it to my family, friends and clients. At home we have implemented the recommendations from my blog except that we still use the soaking water from the brown rice.

Brown rice has a number of qualities that I find endlessly fascinating. From my personal experience brown rice is the only whole grain that we can eat on a regular or daily basis and never get tired of it. In my early macrobiotic days I tried eating a number of other grains exclusively without any brown rice and found that I grew tired of them quickly and could not wait to get back to my brown rice. When I cook any of these other grains with brown rice I never get tired of them. The other grains I tried eating exclusively included barley, millet, bulgur and oats.

Brown rice can grow in both water and dry land. When including short, medium and long grain rice, it also grows in a wide variety of different climates.

Anything that you cook with brown rice cooks in about the same time as the rice, even if that food takes a much longer time to cook on its own. For example chickpeas can take up to three hours to cook on their own and cook in about an hour with brown rice. It seems that most other foods align with brown rice. It is not the same with other grains.

More importantly, brown rice enhances the taste of all other foods. This is completely unique. Any other food cooked with brown rice tastes good. Brown rice combines well with all other grains, beans, vegetables, seeds, nuts, fresh or dried fruits, sugar, rice syrup, maple syrup and other sweeteners, poultry, eggs, fish or shellfish, cheese and other dairy products, herbs, spices and seasonings. In all of my years in practice, I have not been able to find an exception, though some are likely to exist. Brown rice has the ability to complement, embrace and harmonize with all foods and seasonings. I find this truly amazing!

It has been my observation over many years that eating brown rice gives us the ability to see the relationship between the part and the whole and to understand how they relate to each other. This relationship between part and whole is the basis of macrobiotic cooking, healing and lifestyle.

It seems natural that we would receive these unique qualities by eating brown rice on a regular basis. The situation with arsenic in brown rice is not new. I find it concerning that many people may choose to stop eating brown rice out of fear without understanding the situation fully.

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy

Eating Day and Night

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I just finished reading a blog about many people needing to eat at night. I wanted to express my thoughts to help create more of an understanding to help people overcome this growing problem. There is a natural order between day and night. Under normal circumstances we eat and are physically active during the day. At night we settle down and while we sleep we use the food we ate during the day to clean, maintain and repair our bodies. After rising in the morning, we eliminate the physical and energetic excess gathered during the night through our morning routine of stretching, washing, urination and bowel movement, etc. Then, we are fully ready for the day.

We can have the best activity during the day while the sun is up and the deepest and most refreshing sleep during the night when the stars are out. Our digestive system is not on-call 24 hours a day as we would like. It is only fully ready to receive nourishment at certain times. These times have come to be know as meal times, breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we eat at regular meal times our digestion is quick and efficient. For example, if you start eating your dinner at 5 pm you digest your meal very quickly. The same meal takes a little longer to digest if eaten at 6 or 7 pm. If we start dinner at 8 or 9 pm it takes even longer to digest. When we eat in between meals as in brunch, it has the opposite effect and actually stagnates our digestion. The purpose of brunch is to be able to lounge around all day and accomplish very little. When we get up early and have a simple breakfast we are ready to be active and accomplish something. It is not very easy to lounge around.

This concept may make more sense when we look at it from the sleep perspective. If you sleep for six hours from midnight until 6 am, you can accomplish a lot even if you may want a little more sleep. However, if you sleep six hours from 3 am to 9 am you do not get the same restful and replenishing sleep. You wake up feeling groggy and do not feel motivated to accomplish much. The time you sleep determines the quality of your sleep in the same way the time you start you meals determines how well you digest and feel satisfied from your food.

Our blood sugar follows the sun’s movement. After noon, our blood sugar starts to gradually fall so that we can settle down in the evening and go to sleep before midnight. After midnight our blood sugar stars to gradually rise so that we can get up quickly and easily in the early morning. Eating our meals at the proper times helps to regulate and stabilize our blood sugar. Lunch is the controlling factor. It is important to start eating you lunch no later than 1 pm to stabilize your blood sugar.

When we eat grain, bean and vegetable based meals at the recommended times, we do not want to eat before bed or at night when we should be sleeping. When we eat two or three satisfying meals at the proper times we do not desire to eat after dinner because this late night eating makes us feel worse and not better. When we eat chaotically or eat unhealthy foods at the wrong times our blood sugar looses it’s natural balance. If our blood sugar is too low or too high, we cannot fall asleep easily. If our blood sugar is too low when we are sleeping, we need to wake up and eat to raise our blood sugar enough to sleep.

These ideas are tried and true and are based on my approach to macrobiotics. One of the most common comments I hear from my clients is how well they have been sleeping and how easily they get up in the morning after implementing my recommendations.

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics

Ending Breast Cancer

Posted on by Denny Waxman

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.

No Comments | Tags: Cancer, Macrobiotic Counseling, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics