Body, Mind and Spirit

Posted on by Denny Waxman

It seems common sense to me that food nourishes us on many levels including our mind, and that a healthy body and mind are the prerequisites for developing a strong and effective educational system. There has been a lot in the media recently about how Americans are comparing unfavorably with many other nations in both health and education. There has been a steady decline over the years in these areas. The decline seems to reflect our poor diets and lack of natural outdoor activity. We hear about and can even see the alarming rates of overweight, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. I find our decline painful to watch in so many ways.

Food is energy or spirit. When we eat physical food it breaks down to liquid and then energy. Most of the food we eat goes to nourish our energy on physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual levels, rather than maintenance and repair of our bodies. If this does not make sense to you, try meditating after eating a meal of brown rice, miso soup and sautéed vegetables. Then try the same meditation the next day after eating fried chicken or pizza and a soda. Doesn’t it seem that there would be a difference in these two meditations. Would you even want to or be able to meditate after the fried chicken or pizza meals?

I was a terrible student growing up. I had no interest in school other than recess. I was also a total junk food eater with a steadily declining diet. It was only after I discovered macrobiotics and started to eat a primarily grain, bean and vegetable based diet that I wanted to sit down and read books. As time went on I wanted to know about and study everything! I became a wonderful, self-motivated student on my own. When my body was open to real nourishment, so was my mind. My children are all interested in education, the children of my friends and clients are as well. The common point is healthy foods create a healthy body and mind. Health craves health on every level, diet, activity and education.

The combination of a healthy diet and healthy activity helps us to develop a strong nervous system and a powerful memory that enables us to understand and figure things out. Healthy food gives us this kind of mental clarity. This sounds like a bold statement, however, it is based on my observation of myself, friends and clients over many years. A plant based diet helps us create connections. It naturally encourages us to connect with each other, nature, the environment and most importantly our life dreams.

It is time to realize the connections between body, mind, spirit, society, nature and environment and that the solutions my be right in front of us, on our dinner plates.

No Comments | Tags: Cancer, Diabetes, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics, Uncategorized

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.

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

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

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

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

Macrobiotics and Yoga

Posted on by Denny Waxman

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.

No Comments | Tags: Circulation, Exercise, Macrobiotic Counseling, Macrobiotic Diet, Mental Health

Achieving Your Ideal Weight

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I find it alarming that we are gaining so much weight as a society and that this weight gain is starting at younger and younger ages. More than one-third of adults, age 20 years and over, are obese and about the same percentage are overweight. In addition, nearly 20 percent of children, aged 12 to 19 are obese. At my daughters high school graduation recently, I found it hard to accept that so many of our young people are starting off life in this way.

These massive overweight conditions are contributing to heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. According to a New York Times blog last month, nearly one in four teenagers are being diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes. I wonder how we be able to function as society in coming years.

Over the years I have helped thousands of people loose weight successfully and more importantly, keep it off. There is not doubt that the modern diet and our sedentary lifestyle are the cause of this weight and health epidemic. It is easy to observe that all cultures that adopt our dietary and lifestyle practices, gain weight the same as we do. The problem with weight loss is that there is a lack of understanding about the underlying causes of the weight gain in the first place. Weight gain is a symptom of an imbalance in diet, activity and lifestyle practices.

Weight loss programs that are based on restriction and unhealthy foods are doomed to failure. Restriction inevitably leads to excess. Eating less causes you to eat more of the wrong foods. Foods that do not satisfy our basic biological need for health do not lead to long-term weight loss either. It is not so much what we eat that makes us gain weight, it is what our body cannot eliminate. If our metabolism is healthy and active, we naturally eliminate more than we consume. We never have to think about our weight. By metabolism I mean our ability to digest and process the food, absorb the nutrition and eliminate the excess. If we eat the proper foods at the proper times, without skipping meals, our weight adjusts itself properly. Please read my book, The Great Life Diet for more specific details proper meal time and what constitutes a healthy, balanced meal.

When we eat the modern diet chaotically, we start to gain weight. The more we try to eliminate or restrict the foods that are fattening, the more we fuel our appetite for those foods. When we skip meals or eat at random times, we stagnate our metabolism and gain weight. When we do too much strenuous exercise to loose weight, we naturally want to reward ourselves with unhealthy foods. We end up gaining rather than loosing weight. Here are a few suggestions that can help you loose weight successfully and help your life in many other ways as well;

Try to eat a comfortable amount of plant based, whole and unrefined foods, including grains, beans, vegetables and soups. Sit down to eat without reading, watching TV, talking on the phone or driving your car. You will reestablish a connection with your food that will leave you feeling more satisfied with less food. This automatically leads to healthier food choices. Eat quickly steamed green once or twice a day. Walk outside for at least thirty minutes a day. Try to sit less and be active more. Find activities, sports or hobbies that satisfy you more than food. Good luck on your new adventure!

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

Fermented Reflections on Philly Beer Week

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Beer Week in Philly has caused me to reflect on the history and nature of beer and other alcoholic beverages. I did not like to drink beer or any other alcoholic beverages until after I started to practice macrobiotics. As a teenager I preferred sweets and ice cream to alcohol. Over the years of eating grains, and other complex carbohydrates, I gradually developed a taste and appreciation for well crafted beer, sake or wine as well as miso, sauerkraut and other similar foods. It seems that naturally pickled and fermented foods, whether they contain an appreciable amount of alcohol or not, complement a diet based on grains, beans, vegetables and other complex carbohydrates.

After changing to a healthier diet and lifestyle I became intensely interested in the history of food and it’s various methods of preparation. My studies revealed that pickled and fermented foods are the most unique methods of food preparation in the world. For example, sauerkraut is much more than cabbage and sea salt. In the fermenting and pickling process unique and beneficial enzymes, bacteria, vitamins and other nutrients are formed that were not there before. The preparation and regular consumption of sauerkraut has been an important family tradition throughout China and Europe for more than a thousand years. People have know about it’s wide variety of health benefits for a long time.

Fermented beverages date back to the beginning of recorded history. These beverages have played an important role in religious and cultural ceremonies. There is also a lot of controversy about the the benefits or harms of alcohol consumption from religious and cultural or social viewpoints. When I lived in Japan, while out drinking sake, I often heard that sake is thought of as the king of one-hundred medicines. Later I heard the second and maybe more important part of this saying, sake is also the king of one-thousand poisons. Maybe this is the key to this controversy. It is unfortunate that our nature often leads us to excesses that can prove harmful.

After World War II, naturally pickled and fermented foods have almost entirely disappeared due to the use of modern food preservation techniques. Modern preservation techniques leave us with dead rather than living foods. The action of beneficial enzymes, bacteria and yeasts are destroyed rather than encouraged, the way they are in traditional food processing.

Slowly over the years naturally pickled and fermented foods have reappeared due to the work of the Kushi’s, Aihara’s and other macrobiotic teachers. Pickling and fermentation have been an important part of macrobiotic education since the 1960’s. The introduction of naturally produced and fermented miso, soy sauce, umeboshi plums and sauerkraut has slowly sparked new industries.

Since the 1970’s local micro-brewed beers that are naturally produced and unpasteurized have slowly reached the mainstream. In the same time there has also been an explosion in organic, unpasteurized sauerkraut and other naturally pickled vegetables and foods including miso. It is my hope that these new industries will also create an renewed interest in healthier foods. I hope you enjoy your local micro-brews sensibly this week with healthy vegetarian snacks.

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

Holy Cow, Calcium From the Source!

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I just finished reading the NY Times blog on the dangers of taking calcium supplements. This was very predictable because so many things recommended as being healthy or necessary by the medical profession end up causing more harm than good. It turns out that taking calcium supplements can increase your risk of having a heart attack. What will also most likely come out in the future is that calcium from supplements causes brittle bones that break easily. Strong, flexible bones, come from plant sources of calcium. What I found most disappointing about the blog is that there no healthy sources of calcium were recommended. Dairy foods and mineral waters are not healthy sources of calcium.

Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in the earth’s crust. Plants take minerals from the earth as their food. Cows accumulate great amounts of calcium in their milk through eating grass. Doctors and registered dietician’s tell us to drink cow’s milk and eat cheese in order to get calcium. This is second hand calcium and does not produce strong and healthy bones. Dairy foods also contribute to many of our modern health problems.

I find it interesting that people who have the highest calcium consumption from dairy products, also have the highest rates of osteoporosis. On the other hand, people who get their calcium from plant sources do not develop these problems. I have counseled many people throughout the years on how to remineralize their bones. Many of my clients have been frail, elderly women. Some of these women have had serious falls and have not broken bones. In every case, these women were shocked that they did not break bones from their falls. In situations where they did break bones, the fractures usually healed in about half the expected times. This also was completely predictable because plant sources of calcium build the strongest bones.

Now I would like to make you an expert on building strong bones. There are four main plant sources of calcium: green leafy vegetables; beans, especially white beans; toasted sesame seeds and miso soup. Eat a variety of leafy greens on a daily basis, including, kale, collards, bok choy and others. Eat a serving of beans often or daily. Use toasted sesame seeds as a condiment on your foods. Make miso soup with wakame seaweed and leafy greens and consume it often. To absorb the calcium and other minerals from these sources you need to use some vegetable oil in your cooking. A few or several times a week use sesame or olive oil in cooking your greens and beans. You can also cook greens and beans together sometimes. You do not need to go overboard on any of these these things. Good nutrition is natural. Just try to vary your diet with these healthy foods.

Natural exercise is also important. To make sure the calcium gets into your bones, walk outside on a daily basis to get fresh air and sunshine. Take the stairs when possible and get a variety of other life-related exercises. You will find that these recommendations benefit other areas of your life physically and mentally.

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

Sleep, Eat, Lose Weight

Posted on by Denny Waxman

When I wrote my book, The Great Life Diet, I decided to speak from my experience and not try to document anything I said. I knew in time the documentation would appear to me. The most important documentation in recent times has been The China Study by T. Collin Campbell. His research complements the common sense and practical approach of my book. The China Study is a must read for anyone interested in better health be it personal, social or environmental.

I just finished reading this interesting study correlating that late bedtimes and late mealtimes can lead to less healthful diets and to weight gain.

Over the years I discovered that there is a direct connection between how and what we eat. Regulating our sleep and meal times regulates our metabolism; our ability to digest, absorb and eliminate the unused excess from our food. When we sleep, our body cleans and repairs itself. We also gather physical and energetic excess to be eliminated in the morning when we rise. The healthier our diet and activity, the deeper we sleep and also need less time to be refreshed. We can get the most refreshing and healthful sleep when we are in deep sleep by midnight. We also have the greatest ability to eliminate excess close to sunrise. The later we sleep into the day, the more sluggish our metabolism becomes. Most people know this from experience. When you get up late you feel more sluggish and the day does not go the same. During the day we are nourished by solid and liquid foods, at night we are nourished by more subtle vibrational energy from the celestial world. Our body does not have the ability to process the more coarse energy from the sun when we are horizontal. The sun’s energy makes us feel more physically active. This is why we feel sluggish from eating and drinking too much and from sleeping ‘in’ too late.

If our metabolism is healthy, we never need to think about our weight. Being overweight is a symptom of an imbalance in diet and activity. When we adjust our diet, activity and daily schedule, our natural weight and health follow without effort.

Here is a checklist for losing weigh naturally, and of course for maintaing or improving your health. Please check my book for additional details.

Sit down to eat without reading, watching TV or driving.

Sleep before midnight and rise by 7 am.

Eat you meals at regular times, without skipping meals: breakfast by 9 am, lunch by 1 pm and dinner by 7:30 pm

Stop eating three hours before bedtime.

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