Setting One Record Straight

Posted on by Denny Waxman

glass-of-water

An elderly client of mine who is having some issues recently received this e-mail from a well-meaning friend. I would like to comment on this misleading and potentially harmful advice. Below is a snippet from the e-mail:

“HEART ATTACKS AND WATER!

How many folks do you know who say they don’t want to drink anything before going to bed because they’ll have to get up during the night.

Heart Attack and Water – I never knew all of this ! Interesting…….

Something else I didn’t know … I asked my Doctor why people need to urinate so much at night time. Answer from my Cardiac Doctor – Gravity holds water in the lower part of your body when you are upright (legs swell). When you lie down and the lower body (legs and etc) seeks level with the kidneys, it is then that the kidneys remove the water because it is easier. This then ties in with the last statement!

I knew you need your minimum water to help flush the toxins out of your body, but this was news to me. Correct time to drink water…

Very Important. From A Cardiac Specialist!

Drinking water at a certain time maximizes its effectiveness on the body

2 glasses of water after waking up – helps activate internal organs

1 glass of water 30 minutes before a meal – helps digestion

1 glass of water before taking a bath – helps lower blood pressure

1 glass of water before going to bed – avoids stroke or heart attack

I can also add to this… My Physician told me that water at bed time will also help prevent night time leg cramps. Your leg muscles are seeking hydration when they cramp and wake you up with a Charlie Horse.”

 

According to Oriental medicine, different systems of the body are more active and adjust at certain times of the day to return to balance. The stomach and pancreas are most active after lunchtime. Our ideal lunchtime begins between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The stomach and pancreas become more active between 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sleepiness after lunch indicates either that our digestion is weak or we’re experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

 

The kidneys and bladder are active between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. and when we are in a horizontal position. The kidneys filter toxins from our blood and regulate our water and mineral balance while we sleep. We eliminate these toxins after we rise in the morning. As we age, we tend to become more dry and lose some of our natural flexibility. The lack of flexibility in the kidneys, bladder, and prostate (in a man’s case) causes us to wake up to urinate. The modern diet full of meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, and baked goods intensifies rigidity, as do iced drinks.

 

The most important source of water is in our food.  Water in food helps flexibility. Our bodies absorb water within food more effectively through digestion. Healthy foods such as cooked grains, beans, vegetables, salads, and fruits have a naturally high water content. A variety of these foods creates a healthy balance of minerals that helps avoid cramping at night. Compare the difference in water between a chip, a dry cereal, or a cracker with that of a boiled grain. Dry foods make it difficult to absorb water effectively, much like what happens when a potted plant dries out and is then watered. Furthermore, excess water interferes with deep, refreshing sleep. We ideally use drinks and fluids for our enjoyment and to satisfy thirst.

4 Comments | Tags: Macrobiotics

Bill Clinton’s Invitation to Macrobiotics

Posted on by Denny Waxman

A recent article in AARP The Magazine: “Bill Clinton Explains Why He Became A Vegan” caught my attention. The article explains President Clinton’s mostly vegan diet, and gives readers a glimpse of what he may eat on any given day. I have been in practice as a macrobiotic educator, seminar leader and counselor since the early ’70s, enabling people to rebuild their health when dealing with issues of weight loss, life threatening diseases, heart attacks and other maladies. I do this using food and lifestyle as the basis for health. Macrobiotics is an orderly approach to life where we learn how to make healthy, balanced choices in diet and lifestyle. I enjoy working with people who want to be empowered through their health by realizing the difference food can make in accomplishing this goal. I often see people when everything else they tried has failed and witness them regain and maintain wellness without the use of a vitamin or supplements. This is possible through learning what balances the body, and what it takes to establish the kind of homeostasis that builds health. Several of my cases were documented on the show The Incurables and in published books and articles.

 

The article on President Clinton brings into focus the transition to a vegan or vegetarian diet many people undergo in order to solve a health problem or improve overall wellness. However, I notice in some instances that the adoption of a vegetarian or vegan diet does not necessarily improve health and in some cases, worsens health. People are generally on the right road with this choice, but they simply need a bit more insight about food and lifestyle. Some people give up and go back to ill health and old habits when just a few small changes would have helped them to reach their goal. I witness time and again how the combination of eating habits and complete, balanced meals creates lasting health. It is my goal in this article to bring to light what makes a balanced and healthy plant-based meal and lifestyle.

 

Many now believe that a good diet is essential to health, but know little about what constitutes a good diet. In order to build and maintain health on a plant-based diet, balance is essential. A balanced diet in the practice of macrobiotics is one that is composed of complete meals. A complete meal in my approach to macrobiotic practice consists of a grain and a separate, seasonal, regional vegetable dish. For example, rice and separately steamed kale is a complete meal, whereas a vegetable cooked with rice (although a wonderful combination) is still a grain dish.

 

Let me explain further. There are three main categories of plant-based foods: grains (some cultures eat grains and beans together), vegetables, and soups. Anything prepared with a grain constitutes a grain dish. Anything cooked in soup constitutes a soup. This means, for example, that lentils, barley and vegetables can be cooked in soup, but it is still a soup. The diversity between the food categories promotes a dynamic interaction of the foods we prepare, which enhances the nutrition of each dish. It is like having a conversation; when different people join a conversation, it becomes richer and more dynamic. It is the same way with a meal. Because grains, beans and soups are powerful, they encompass the foods that accompany them; vegetables do not possess this same power.

 

We are led to think that we need to get complete chains of amino acids to be well nourished. Modern nutrition insinuates that these complete amino acid chains are primarily in animal and dairy foods, which is simply not true. A varied plant-based diet also provides complete proteins.

 

A grain is the seed and the fruit of a plant literally merged into one. Different types of vegetables complement the grain. The interaction between vegetables and grains provides the most complete balance of all nutrients, not limited to proteins. Beans are a further nutritional complement to grains and vegetables, which combine well with a lunch or a dinner and help us to feel more satisfied.

 

When dining out or away from home, Italian, Indian, and Middle Eastern restaurants usually serve meals and dishes that follow the format suggested. Italian food features soups as well as pasta and vegetable dishes. Middle Eastern food often features rice with lentils, or couscous, and vegetable dishes. Falafel with pickles and lettuce on a pita is a complete meal! Consider Mexican meals also without the meat or dairy; another good choice is a vegetarian burrito without the cheese. Whether at home or away, following this format is the most important, especially if we can integrate a bean dish or a soup as well. It is better to lower the standard on food quality than to compromise the format of complete and balanced meals. White rice and broccoli conform to the format of a complete meal. These formats for a meal are by far the healthiest and are the ways the world’s civilizations have been eating for thousands of years. My wife and I went out recently and had the following meal without a soup:

 -Grilled polenta with sautéed broccoli rabe

-Cannellini beans in a light tomato broth

-I had pappardelle pasta with porcini mushrooms

-And my wife had capellini pasta with broccoli rabe and a few fresh tomatoes

         This meal had a nice arrangement of grains, vegetables and bean dishes. The soup would have likely been too much! Polenta and pasta both grains, the broccoli rabe, the vegetable and the beans made the meal even more satisfying. We accompanied the meal with a nice red wine.

 

No doubt many are watching our former President as he embraces a new way of eating to enhance his heart health and longevity. I, for one, want to see him succeed! To our beloved former President Clinton and to all of those observing and embracing his diet, I would like to suggest the following additions and changes.   Because we live in a fast paced world, people often look for a quick and easy breakfast. The answer to this need is often a smoothie.  President Clinton(and many others) often starts the day with a smoothie. I do not recommend smoothies for a variety of reasons.

 

Smoothies weaken our health because our blood absorbs the sugars so quickly that they can upset our balance of blood sugar. By adding a protein supplement to a smoothie, we run a further risk of upsetting our nutritional balance since all foods in a balanced diet already contain the proper proportion of proteins.

 

Smoothies are not the best way to start the day because they weaken rather than strengthen digestion. Good digestion is crucial for good health, well-being, and energy. The fiber in whole foods such as grains, beans, and vegetables activates digestion through the process of chewing and moving through our digestive system. Liquefying the fiber in a food can have the opposite effect because it dulls the digestive process. The fiber in food promotes regularity, absorbs toxins, and helps cultivate beneficial bacteria. Additionally, I observe in my counseling that iced beverages can shock our kidneys and digestive system. I do not recommend cold drinks for this reason. Drinks are best at room temperature or warmer.

 

Remember, healthy, balanced meals are based around a whole grain and vegetable. An excellent breakfast: miso soup followed by oatmeal and steamed greens. Miso soup aids digestion, and furthermore strengthens and nourishes the body. Miso soup is one of the two most unique probiotics on the planet(the other being naturally fermented sauerkraut). Naturally fermented miso soup, prepared with wakame seaweed and vegetables, eaten often or daily, regulates and maintains healthy digestion. Substituting miso soup for a smoothie is better for a vegetarian diet in the long term. Miso soup followed by a grain and vegetable dish is not only delicious and satisfying, but it is the best way to receive the most nutrition possible. The soup can be made in a batch to last for a few days. It can then be heated and taken in a thermos to accommodate an on-the-go lifestyle.

 

You may not know that quinoa, although a wonderful food is a wild grass and not a grain– like that of rice or barley.  Although high in protein, quinoa does not provide the same nutritional balance within the body as do grains. So, eating and incorporating quinoa into a diet is healthy, but quinoa is no substitute for a vital whole grain. That is, it could be the base of a dish with other vegetables, but it does not complete the meal.

 

Apart from primarily focusing on what to eat, considering how and when we eat is equally important. Many clients report that one of the most profound and immediate effects–even from those without vegetarian diets– is that of having regular and consistent meal times. Our digestive system is not “on call” as our lifestyles may like it to be, but eating when the digestive system is most active helps us to be more satisfied.

 

Honoring the relationship between the body and mind by having meals at the same time everyday regulates digestion, hormones and stabilizes blood sugar. Starting breakfasts no later than 9 a.m., starting lunches no later than 1 p.m. and starting dinners no later than 7:30 p.m. works best and even accommodates a diverse or varied schedule. If we have a couple of hours after our last meal before we sleep, sleeping becomes easier too. Developing these habits promotes long-term health for the vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike. I have clients that have lost weight and improved their health simply by adhering to regular meal times and taking the time to eat slowly and chew until the food is liquid in their mouth and then swallowed.  This liquefying also helps to maintain or improve health.

 

For a vegetarian or vegan diet that promotes health, it is not simply a matter of eating vegetables and cutting out dairy and meat. It involves developing health-supporting habits. We get much more benefit from the habits we practice than the habits or behaviors we abstain from. In the short term, we benefit from avoiding animal and dairy foods, but the habits we form are what promote long-term health. My concern is that President Clinton’s current diet will not nourish his health and vitality in the long run, nor allow him to operate at full potential. I am concerned that he is using up his reserve nutrition to keep going and is not replenishing himself with meals that are complete and balanced nutritionally. I encourage President Clinton to start having grain and vegetable based meals while also trying to include a bean dish and a soup on a daily basis as well. Savory soups condition our digestive system and help to absorb the maximum nutrition from our foods. I believe smoothies compromise digestion and interfere with overall absorption of nutrients.

 

The combination and interaction of grains, beans, vegetables and soups not only satisfy more, but also nourish us much more deeply on all levels. Even just one meal a day with this combination will yield health-enhancing results in a short period of time–in a matter of days or weeks.

 

If you are choosing to become vegan or vegetarian in an effort to have optimal health, I want this blog to serve as an encouragement to you and provide the information to take you to the next step for optimal health. You have given up meat and dairy and I support this choice. I now invite you to embrace the right combination of plant-based foods to give you a healthy life with sustained energy, vitality and balance.  Take my challenge and try eating for one or two weeks based on the menus below. I promise you will feel wonderful, operate at full capacity and fulfill your destiny to eat healthy.

 

Compiled and designed by Susan Waxman, this sample menu is for those who enjoy cooking and demonstrates the variety of grains, vegetables and flavors possible in one week. There is further direction on how to use leftover dishes in future meals, whether incorporated or as a separate dish. If you follow a gluten free diet, there are minimal substitutions necessary to tailor the menu. The versatility within this week can also be modified to fit the pace of your lifestyle and modifications for vinegars or vegetables where appropriate. I’ve provided links to some of the foods that may be unfamiliar. Check out more recipes on Susan’s blog called “Taste with Integrity”. Have fun, enjoy, and let me hear about your experience of the challenge!

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Day 1

Breakfast                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 * Soft millet cooked with sweet vegetables - onions and cauliflower                                                                                                                                      

 * Quick steamed leafy greens (collards or kale) with fresh squeezed lemon juice

 

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

* Brown rice cooked with pearled barley

* Miso soup with naturally fermented miso  (wakame sea vegetable, dried shitake mushrooms, daikon radish, napa cabbage; finely chopped scallion garnish)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Sautéed and simmered sweet root vegetables using toasted sesame oil (carrot, onions; seasoned with shoyu(natural soy sauce),fresh grated ginger  juice)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Blanched vegetable salad (bok choy, broccoli, and red radishserved with brown rice/cider vinegar condiment)

 

Mid-afternoon snack -Fresh carrot, apple and celery juice

 

Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 * Farro with sautéed vegetables and white beans (red onions, baby kale and navy beans)                                                                                            

Steamed sweet potato

* Fresh arugula salad with tofu cheese

* Poached pear in a balsamic barley malt reduction

 Day 2

Breakfast                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 * Soft cooked rice and barley using the leftover rice

* Blanched vegetable salad (napa cabbage, broccoli and carrots)

 

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

* Leftover farro with sautéed vegetables and white beans

* Miso soup made with naturally fermented miso (wakame sea vegetable, onions, turnips and turnip greens; scallion garnish)                      

* Leftover steamed sweet potatoes

Quick-sautéed leafy greens (baby bok choy, and collards greens)

 

 Mid afternoon snack – Warm apple cider with fresh lemon

 

 Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Pan-fried millet croquettes using the left over millet and corn meal flour with vegan tartar sauce (tahini based with horseradish and fresh herbs)

* French lentils cooked with onions and leeks and fresh herbs

* Quick-steamed kale with fresh lemon

* Sauerkraut or kimchi

*Fresh fruit kanten(agar)

 Day 3

Breakfast                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

*Steel-cut oats with maple syrup

*Blanched vegetable salad(collards, green cabbage, and carrots)

 

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 *Brown rice cooked with sweet brown rice with a condiment of lightly toasted chopped walnuts                                                                                

*Miso soup made with naturally fermented miso(wakame sea vegetable,  dried hen-of-the-woods mushroom, onion and watercress)                  

*Leftover French lentils*Quick Steamed mustard greens with mustard dressing

 

Mid Afternoon snack -Fresh Carrot apple and orange juice

 

Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

*Udon style noodles with sautéed vegetables and creamy tofu sauce(onions, baby kale, feather like carrot matchsticks and tofu cream cheese)     

*Special Vegetable Dish – Nishime Style(long-steamed vegetables) cooking(onions, green cabbage, hard winter kabocha or buttercup squash, and parsnip)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

*Fresh salad(Hearts of Romaine lettuce, cucumbers and pickled red onion)Served with a light vinaigrette dressing

*Amasake lemon pudding

Day 4

Breakfast                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

*Leftover steel-cut oats with a condiment of ume-shiso sprinkles

*Quick-steamed napa cabbage

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 * Vegetable sushi roll using your leftover brown rice and sweet rice (fried tempeh, sauerkraut, blanched carrots and cucumber, or keep it simple using cucumber, fresh shiso leaves and umeboshi paste) Susan’s special sauce made with roasted tahini, umeboshi paste and mustard; wasabi is optional                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

* Leftover Nice

* Quick-sautéed leafy greens using extra virgin olive oil (baby bok choy and bok choy)

 

Mid – afternoon  Pick me up – Warmed apple cider with fresh lemon

 

Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Couscous with sautéed vegetables (red onion, carrot and green peas)                                                                                                                                

* Chickpea stew (onion, burdock root, sweet potato and spices)                                                                                                                                            

Fresh arugula and Belgium endive salad

* Red grape fruit kanten

Day 5

Breakfast                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

 * Steamed sourdough bread with apple butter or your favorite fruit spread

* Blanched vegetable salad (cabbage, kale and red radish)

 

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

* Leftover couscous

* Leftover chick pea stew

* Quick steamed collard greens with fresh lemon

* Quick pickles made with umeboshi vinegar

 

Mid-afternoon snack – fresh carrot and leafy greens juice

 

 Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 * Brown rice cooked with quinoa – toasted sesame seeds

* Leftover cream of cauliflower soup with fresh herb garnish

* Sautéed broccoli using olive oil

* Fresh iceberg lettuce and hearts of romaine salad (cucumber, radicchio and  tofu cheese)                                                                                                 

Leftover red grape canteen

 Day 6

Breakfast

* Soft corn grits (make extra, pour into a pyrex dish and let sit to use the next day)

* Water-sautéed baby kale

 

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

* Leftover brown rice and quinoa

* Miso soup (wakame sea vegetable, turnips, turnip greens and chopped scallions)                                                                                                         

* Arame sea-vegetables with onions, carrots, fresh tofu

* Quick-steamed collard greens with fresh lemon

 

Mid- afternoon snack – warmed and diluted amasake

 

Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Penne pasta with sautéed broccoli rabe and sun-dried tomatoes

* White beans with sautéed escarole

* Fresh arugula salad with pickled red radish, poached pears and toasted pine nuts

 

Day 7

Breakfast                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

* Soft rice porridge

* Quick-steamed watercress

 

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

* Pan fried polenta

* Leftover white beans

* Blanched vegetable salad (napa cabbage, broccoli)

* Quick umeboshi vinegar pickles

 

 Mid-afternoon pick me up – Fresh tangerines

 

Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

* Brown rice cooked with lentils and sautéed onions

* Miso soup (wakame sea vegetable, dried shitake mushrooms, daikon radish and leafy greens)

* Leftover Arame sea-vegetable dish

* Pressed salad with Tahini dressing (green cabbage, celery and cucumber and red radish)

* Baked apple stuffed with toasted walnuts and currants

To a great life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment | Tags: Articles and Research, Macrobiotics

Macrobiotics and Seasonal Health

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I recently read a blog called “A Season Pattern to Mental Health.”

Macrobiotics plays a large role in this pattern for a couple of reasons:

Our blood sugar follows the suns movement, thus it follows the seasons as well.  As humans, blood sugar should slowly start to rise after midnight so that we can wake up early in the morning ready for activity.  Gradually, it should start to fall shortly after lunch around 2pm so that we can fall sleep.

Unfortunately, the natural cycles seems uncommon.  The opposite of healthy blood sugar is called hypoglycemia.  In a hypoglycemic situation (hypo means low), our blood sugar doesn’t rise early enough so that we can get up and go in the mornings.  We need caffeine and sugar to wake us up.  Most often, eating too much sugar is an overreaction to our lower level of blood sugar in the mornings.  Our pancreas secretes insulin and once it is processed, our blood sugar falls rapidly so that we become useless in the afternoon.  We suffer from sleepiness, low energy, and slow thinking.  As blood sugar dips, we feel anxious and irritable until sometimes we reach a level of anger.  When this anger erupts, we can feel our heart rate rise which contributes to a  sudden spike in blood sugar.  After any sudden spike, we experience a drastic decline.  It is very common that blood sugar will fall so low that we feel restless.  At this stage, we actually need to raise it to be able go to reach a state of sleep.  Overnight we secrete insulin to lower our blood sugar, and when the sun rises we’re not ready to wake up.  The pattern goes on and on.

We all know we feel better in the summer, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  When the sun is out and the days are bright, it is much easier to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. When the days are shorter and darker, it makes it harder for our blood sugar to come up in the morning.  In the winters, to sustain healthier blood sugar, eating more cooked foods will ward off the urge to raise and lower blood sugar in an effort to gain energy.

In reference to the blog: Certain diseases and problems are much more common in the winter.  Depression, anxiety, and chronic pain have been documented as more prevalent during these darker  and shorter days.  This is exacerbated by a poor diet and chaotic eating habits.

The remedy to this blood sugar problem is simple: Eat quality food in an organized timely manner.  The most important meal in reseting this cycle is lunch.  Eat lunch every day between 12 and 1pm.  It resets the biological clock.  Also, walking outside can have this effect as well.  Get outside and enjoy yourself as often as possible, even in darker or gloomier days.  When these habits become part of your life, it will not take long to notice the change.  You’ll feel better physically, feel things deeper, and be more present in your life.   

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotics

Cooking Friend or Foe?

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Food is a touchy and personal subject. It affects us in so many ways and we often feel threatened by changes in our food choices and preparation. I hope to express these ideas with openness, curiosity and respect, as food is at the very core of our health and life.

We have grown up with so many mythologies surrounding food. Thanks to T. Collin Campbell and his ground breaking book, The China Study, it is finally becoming more widely known that plant protein is superior to animal and dairy protein in every way. I was so happy to find The China Study as it confirmed everything that I wrote in my book, The Great Life Diet.

Modern education about the importance of animal and dairy proteins has created far more harm than good throughout the world. Yet, most people still ask, “Where’s the protein?” The correct answer is that it is in all plant-based foods including grains, beans, vegetables, seeds, nuts and fruits, and not just animal and dairy foods.

At the same time we have been brought up to think that cooking destroys nutrition. That idea is also not completely accurate. It is far more accurate to say that cooking has the ability change nutrition for better or worse. Cooking can increase or decrease nutrients and their digestibility depending on the food, cooking style and length of cooking. Cooking also increases the taste and enjoyment of our food as well as giving us the ability to preserve it for long periods of time.

I have the greatest respect and appreciation for all plant based ways of eating and living. There is no doubt that these are all the way to a healthier future. At the same time I find Richard Wrangham’s research about the effects of cooking on nutrition compelling as it confirms my many years of macrobiotic practice, study and personal experience. Through my macrobiotic counseling practice, I have seen repeatedly that learning how to cook well is of central importance to creating long-lasting health and fulfillment.

The relationship between food choices, cooking and health has become my lifelong study since living in London from 1981 to 1983. At that time I was the director and main instructor of the Kushi Institute and had the experience of meeting so many people from all over eastern and western Europe that came to study there. The more that I talked with these people about their food traditions the more I began to realize that their food choices and cooking were the key to not only health but the uniqueness of the varying cultures and environments that they were from.

I like to refer to all methods of food preparation including raw, pickling and fermentation as cooking since they are all done with a specific purpose in mind. Skillful cooking has a number of advantages. It makes food more delicious and digestible. Cooking actually increases the bio-available nutrition in our foods. It also increases the energetic level of the food and provides more physical and mental energy. Think about eating a raw salad, steamed greens or a stir fry. The raw salad is the most relaxing, the steamed greens more soothing or settling and the stir fry is the most energizing.
Cooking also increases our ability to adapt to our environment by increasing our ability to disperse or maintain heat. Think about the differences of the cuisine from different parts of the world. Just compare Indian, Japanese, Mediterranean, British and German cuisine. It is easy to see that the cuisine of India is much more cooling than the cuisine of a colder climate such as Germany.

I find it interesting that most plant based approaches to eating and living are separating and polarizing rather than aligning these days. To me, the way to a healthier future personally, socially and environmentally will be fostered by combining raw foods, sprouting and juicing with a wide variety of cooked foods according our environment, desires and individual needs.

I will expand on this topic in my next blog including the use of oil in our foods.

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

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

A New Year’s Resolution That You Will Want to Keep

Posted on by Denny Waxman

My wife Susan wrote a blog today that inspired this blog. I was fortunate to discover a health practice many years ago and to adopt it into my life. This practice has become so much a part of my life that a day without it does not seem the same. If you do this practice in the morning your day goes better and if you do it at night you have deeper and more refreshing sleep. I am referring to something that I call the Body Rub or The Art of Skin Rejuvenation. It takes 10–15 minutes in the morning, night or both.

This is a traditional technique that has been practiced in various ways in different parts of the world to help improve the skin, lymph and general health. I originally learned it from my teacher, Michio Kushi, as the body scrub. It is generally recommended to scrub vigorously with a damp cloth, dry cloth or body brush to invigorate and exfoliate the skin and improve circulation.

After years of practicing the body rub in different ways, it occurred to me that a gentle rub is even more effective than a vigorous scrub in many ways. I would like to explain the reasons I have made this fundamental change to this long-standing practice.

Our skin renews itself every 28 days. As long as your skin can get oils, moisture, nourishment and oxygen from inside it will always be young, fresh and blemish free, at any age. This sounds too good to be true. but it is not. The body rub is a life changing technique. You can think of it as technique that literally winds back your biological clock.

A gentle rub with a hot damp cloth encourages our pores to open and allow fats and toxins stored in our skin to release. The harder we scrub, the more we seal our pores, preventing this release of toxins. I have observed for many years that people who do the body rub the way I recommend have skin that looks much clearer, brighter and fresher than others.

Simply fill your sink with hot water, dip in a folded cotton cloth, wring it out so that it is damp, and gently rub your skin. Try to cover your entire body. Do the body rub separate from the bath or shower. You can learn the specific details in my book, The Great Life Diet, or at an Intensive Seminar at The Strengthening Health Institute.

I am now going to make some more bold claims about the benefits of the body rub. The only way you will know if these claims are true is to do it faithfully everyday for three weeks. You can then determine if you want to incorporate this practice into your life. The body rub cleans your mind as much as it cleans your body. You will find it much easier to let go of worrying or irritating thoughts after doing the body rub. Day by day you will find that you become more aware of your body and will experience an improved self image. Make sure to rub the areas that you are not fond of. The body rub is also a mindfulness and spiritual practice. It is a deep expression of your self appreciation. I hope that you find the body rub to be an enjoyable and valuable addition to your life and a resolution worth keeping. This is your time, no kids, cell phones, iPods, etc. Just gently rub your skin and allow your mind to be free.

No Comments | Tags: 7 Steps, Exercise, 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

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

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