Natural pickling and fermentation are the most unique, traditional forms of food preservation that enhances the quality of the foods. Fermentation is an external, predigestion process that converts complex nutrients to simpler ones. Common fermented foods and beverages include sourdough, vinegar, and wine. Pickling is a type of controlled fermentation using salt. Examples of pickled products are miso, sauerkraut, and olives.
Modern preservation techniques stop the changes in foods. In essence, these foods become sterile. Natural pickling and fermentation facilitates continuous, ongoing transformation and enhancement of certain aspects of foods. For example, pressed apples (apple cider), if unpasteurized, over time ferments into hard apple cider, an alcoholic beverage. If left to further ferment, hard apple cider turns into apple cider vinegar. Each product is unique, and in some ways, mimics the aging process in human beings. Although the fresh, bright aspects may decline as we lose youth, our deeper, essential qualities become enhanced as we age.
-For healthy digestion, we need both prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are the fibers in whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits.
-Pickled and fermented foods, commonly now referred to as sources of probiotics, when combined with prebiotics, help create the healthiest environment for gut microbes to flourish.
-We have a second nervous system called the enteric nervous system in our gut. It is composed of the same types of cells that make up our central nervous system. Pickled and fermented foods bolster and support the connection between the cells that are shared between these two nervous systems.
-We also have two digestive systems. Mental, emotional, and digestive health are interrelated and affected by the foods we eat. Our digestive system processes liquids whereas the brain and nervous system process thoughts, ideas, and vibrations.
-Naturally pickled and fermented foods support the development of gut microbes which prevents unhealthy microbes from developing and flourishing.
-Pickled and fermented foods help develop a natural, efficient immune response, and also suppresses inflammatory response often associated with allergies, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
-Pickled and fermented foods best express the qualities of a particular climate. Wine, beer, and miso are common examples of how microclimates affect the quality of a fermented product. If we want to assimilate to another environment, eating or drinking native, naturally pickled and fermented foods help us adapt more easily to that climate.
-The basis of a healthy plant-based diet are grains, beans, vegetables and fruits. The most important probiotics for this way of eating are miso (grain and bean), sauerkraut (vegetable), and umeboshi plum (fruit).
-Pickled and fermented foods aid the digestive process and our ability to absorb and utilize nutrients.
-It is the interaction of foods that provides the greatest benefit. Pickled and fermented foods should be eaten in combination with other foods during a meal. Having miso soup, sauerkraut or a glass of wine during a meal provides the fullest benefit.
Kimberly, a nutritional therapy student in the UK, recently posted on her blog “The Little Plantation” about miso soup and her experience with macrobiotics. I wish to thank her for encouraging people to read “The Complete Macrobiotic Diet.” I’d also like to compliment her for recognizing that our style of macrobiotic practice is an orderly approach to life that connects us with our environment and brings us to better overall health.
It is clear that modern society does not prioritize health. When we begin macrobiotic practice, it takes effort to create an orderly, daily schedule and to carve out time for meals. However, over time, these health-supporting habits become second nature. The way in which we practice macrobiotics influences and determines our overall health. Because health is a direction, and not a fixed state, any efforts we make to improve our dietary and lifestyle practice moves us in the direction of health.
When I began my practice, I also thought that macrobiotics was based on a traditional Japanese diet. However, over time I began to realize this way of eating and living was common to the world’s long standing civilizations. With few exceptions, traditional diets from our ancestors around the world were based around a variety of grains, beans, vegetables, soups, pickled and fermented foods, seeds, nuts, and fruits. Not only that, but it is also common that our ancestors had lifestyles that aligned with nature’s orderly cycles.
Each civilization has made significant contributions that have become a part of our personal practice. For example, we eat a variety of whole grains and their products from temperate climatic zones. Not only do we eat brown rice, we also include pasta, polenta, unyeasted sourdough bread, and oatmeal. We tried to illustrate the global influence in our practice in the recipe section of “The Complete Macrobiotic Diet,” which serves as a reference point for those interested in integrating global cuisines. The future of modern macrobiotic practice is in embracing the contributions of these cuisines, which includes the traditional Japanese diet from which macrobiotics was originally based.
Thanks Kimberly for sharing with your readership what you have been learning and for helping to dispel some of the misconceptions about modern macrobiotic practice. As time goes on, macrobiotic, vegetarian, and vegan practices will align more closely as we focus more on planning our meals around grains, beans, and vegetables.
I recently viewed this talk by Dan Buettner on the Blue Zones. The Blue Zones are the places in the world with the highest concentrations of centenarians–the people who live to be 100 or beyond. He compiled research about their eating habits and food choices over the course of three years. It came as no surprise to me that what he discovered about people who live long, healthy lives, shares striking similarities to what we’ve been recommending to our clients for over forty years.
I’d like to emphasize the common points of our mutual recommendations, as well as bring to light some things he briefly mentioned. He noted that people in the Blue Zones have a plant-based diet centered around grains, beans, and vegetables, and supplemented by seeds, nuts, and fruits. This is consistent with our recommendations. He also spoke about the significant difference between yeasted bread and naturally fermented sourdough bread and its effects on our blood sugar. All naturally pickled and fermented foods help regulate the digestion and absorption of nutrients as well as help regulate blood sugar. Although he mentioned sourdough bread and red wine, he did not get into other equally important pickled and fermented products (such as naturally made miso soup and sauerkraut) which aid in healthy digestion and enhance our ability to absorb all nutrients. We also share the observation that it is the combination and interaction of different foods within a meal which promotes the greatest health and longevity.
Longevity is a measure of the past more than the present. Someone who is 100 today was born in 1915 when the diet and lifestyle of people was much simpler– mainly organically-grown, simply processed, home-cooked, and plant-based food. People in the Blue Zones have maintained this pattern of eating. Although the Blue Zones are currently being affected by changes in the global diet, the centenarians today were raised with this simple, wholesome pattern. Time will only tell how modern, refined, highly-processed, chemicalized foods will affect our health and longevity.
History is our reality check. We’ve inherited the same pattern of dietary and lifestyle practices from all of the world’s long-standing civilizations, as can be observed today in the remaining Blue Zones. It is now time to re-establish the worldwide pattern for health and longevity that we’ve inherited from our ancestors. We also hope that this pattern will become a model for scientific research and inquiry.
On December 28th around 8 p.m., Susan and I were in a restaurant having dinner with some friends. There was a call on my cell phone from Norio Kushi. Norio and I have been close friends for many years. He wanted to let me know personally that his father had passed away that morning. He wanted to give me the details before the news went public. Knowing this day would come did not lessen the shock.
Michio and Aveline Kushi were my spiritual parents. They invited me into their family shortly after we met. Even though I am dedicating this memorial to Michio, it is difficult for me to think of and remember him without also appreciating and acknowledging Aveline.
I met Michio in February, 1969 when he came to lecture in Philadelphia before we opened our store, Essene. I got to the lecture early simply so I could ask him a question. I told him I was opening a macrobiotic store, and asked him if he had any advice for me. His words were: “Keep it clean. If it isn’t clean, it isn’t macrobiotic.” These words stuck with me forever, and I think his words were one of the keys to our success. The same effort we put into keeping the store spotless, we put into the quality of our food and the quality of service to our customers.
At 19, I was lost and confused, and had no idea about how I wanted to live my life. The one thing I knew for certain was that I didn’t want to follow in the suggested path set by society. I had recently read George Ohsawa’s books that talked about a brighter future and how we could create our health and happiness, but I needed more. At the lectures, Michio spoke of everything under the sun, from the meaning of life, to how to cure cancer, to world peace. One, peaceful world was the central theme to Michio’s message. He taught that world peace can only be achieved through healthy people.
On the second day of Michio’s lectures in Philadelphia, I was invited to the home of Rod and Peggy House with about twenty others. At this gathering, Michio said that he didn’t want many friends. The statement startled me. Michio followed by saying he only wanted just a handful of friends who could really understand this way, and together we could change the world. At that moment, I knew I wanted to be one of those friends. Meeting Michio changed my life.
He had an amazing and indomitable spirit. In the early 70s, when I tried to expand the Essene distribution company too quickly, we ran into serious financial difficulties. As we were walking out the door on the way to a lecture, Michio paused and told me not to worry. He said that even if I lost everything, we would simply start again from my own home. This struck me deeply yet again, and demonstrated to me how clear and penetrating Michio’s insight and advice was in all areas of life. Incidentally, we were able to reach a settlement, close the distribution company, and save the store.
No one could keep up with Michio; he was relentless in the pursuit of his dream to change this world. He often talked about lighting fires as he endlessly travelled the world to inspire people and ignite them into action. Michio taught me that anything was possible and I always admired his vitality. His endless spirit continues to inspire my life and my own approach to healing. “The Book of Macrobiotics” largely sums up the heart of his teachings. I wanted to move to Boston to study with Michio, but Essene, being in Philadelphia, kept me there.
I went back and forth between Boston and Philadelphia to continue my studies and maintain my connection with Michio. Michio popularized study houses, which were houses run by individuals or couples where we could live, practice, and study together. The study houses made macrobiotic education both affordable and practical. I attended Michio’s leadership seminar for two months in 1973. In addition, I stayed at different study houses for two weeks twice a year. I also attended every new seminar that Michio created and sponsored his visits to Philadelphia. Through these regular visits, my friendship and mentorship with Aveline began to grow and became a crucial part of my life. During this time, it became apparent to me how Aveline was both a powerful stabilizing factor for Michio as well as a driving force for the entire macrobiotic movement.
In 1981, during my twelfth year of practice, Michio asked me if I ever doubted macrobiotics. When I replied “No,” he told me that now I could change the entire world. I was very blessed to have met Michio at such a young stage of my life. He told me on a few occasions that he was born too early to see the fruits of his labors, but that I would, and I took that to heart. He also told me that the macrobiotic movement would follow the development of this country, where the ideas started in Boston, but were enacted in Philadelphia. This is also part of the reason why I have chosen to remain in Philadelphia.
Michio had a powerful psychic ability that he used in his counseling. He had an amazing ability to see not only people’s specific health, but even certain foods they had eaten on certain days. I was often self-conscious that he would be able to tell I had been eating something he may not have approved of. His long term predictions were amazingly accurate. He painted a picture for society more than forty years ago that I would say that today, are precise. He saw in the 60s that we would continue down a path towards increasing degenerative illness, social unrest, over medication, and the further destruction of the environment. The vast scope of his teachings demonstrated very clearly the relationships and connections between diet, health, environment, and spiritual development.
The last time I saw Michio was August 3rd, 2013 at the Kushi Summer Conference in New Jersey. Michio scolded me among my peers for recommending sardines to a shared client. He asked me if I could help the client with plant-based recommendations alone, and if I was following up regularly to tell them to stop the sardines when they were no longer needed. The scolding was relentless and beyond intimidating and I did my best to remain calm and stand by my recommendations. I finally said “You know, Michio, that not everyone practices the way we like them to,” and that changed the tone. There was a running joke among the teachers about sardines for the rest of the conference. It was an experience that I am sure I will ponder for the rest of my life.
The last time I spoke with Michio was this past October. I called him just before Susan and I left for the teachers’ meeting in Lisbon to ask him if he had any messages for the group. He asked me to give his and his wife’s, Midori, regards and he hoped that everyone would study well together. These were the last words we exchanged. I always called on January 3rd or 4th to wish him and his family a happy new year, so I was very glad to have called him then. Otherwise, we would not have spoken.
There was no stone he left unturned regarding the education about all of health and all of life. Michio had a powerful presence and magnetism; people wanted to be around him. He had an amazing ability to inspire people and encourage them to pursue their dreams. People would travel great distances just to see him, and would also pay large sums of money for his counsel and guidance. He constantly tried to help people see and realize their full potential in both health and life.
It is my hope that the depth and scope of Michio’s contributions will be more fully understood. Before Michio, there was no natural foods movement because there were practically no natural foods. He encouraged the development of local, natural food producers and processors, food stores, restaurants, educational, publishing, and distribution centers. High-quality, natural foods as well as pickled and fermented foods are now widely available and sought after. He was largely responsible for introducing futons, the practice of acupuncture, shiatsu massage and making the work of Masanobu Fukuoka (the author of “One Straw Revolution”) known. His teachings have influenced people from all walks of life, across the entire range of professional and artistic fields.
We are on the cusp of a nutritional and biological revolution which is laying the groundwork for the age of macrobiotics. The future of macrobiotics is with those who can understand, reinterpret, and express the teachings of Michio, Aveline, and their associates for our times. Now that both Michio and Aveline have passed, I find it more important than ever to dedicate the next part of my life to mentoring the new generation of macrobiotic teachers and leaders. I want to align with those who are like-minded so that our combined expression conveys the attractiveness and timeliness of the spirit and teachings of macrobiotics.
It is hard to express the loss and sadness of Michio’s passing. I find it unfortunate that his work is not more widely acknowledged and recognized today, despite how many lives have been transformed by his life. However, I feel that recognition of Michio’s contributions to society will continue to grow, as will his memory. It is my hope that we as his students and associates can bring honor to the teachings that he and Aveline gave to us.
There will be a memorial service followed by a reception in Boston on January 31, 2015 to honor and celebrate Michio Kushi.
I invite you to take the MACRO leap.
Macrobiotics is not a fad diet; it is humanity’s original way of eating. Perhaps most importantly, macrobiotics is a lifestyle for everyone. The practice is all-inclusive because it is a constant journey of adding healthy, balanced practices into daily life. Practicing macrobiotics is flexible and adaptable to anywhere we happen to be.
This way of life is based on the dietary and lifestyle traditions of all of the world’s long-standing civilizations. These civilizations learned to create health and longevity through adapting to their climate and specific conditions. Each culture contributed to our global culture through its cuisine, history, arts, and sciences.
Our nutrition comes from plant-based foods either directly or indirectly. We receive second-hand and inferior nourishment from animals who have eaten these foods. Grains, beans, and vegetables enable us to make a direct connection to nature and the environment. Choosing local and indigenous foods makes the strongest and most direct connection to where we live. Grains, beans, and vegetables alone also provide enough food to feed and sustain a global population.
Macrobiotics is an empowering practice that awakens and deepens our confidence in our own ability to create and maintain lasting health. We can start immediately with just one meal, and expand and develop our practice over time. As we move in the direction of health, we experience a deeper connection with our own source of life and nature. We begin to move towards fuller physical and emotional well-being, and our fears and anxieties melt away.
The macrobiotic diet has many things in common across cultures, such as the cultivation of grains, beans and vegetables, as well as the natural preservation practices of pickling, fermenting, smoking, salting, and drying foods. Along with an appreciation of broader, universal patterns, there is also an appreciation of unique connections to locality. There is no one “Chinese food,” “French food,” or “Italian food,” but different regional cuisines that express a people’s harmonious relationship with a locality or region. Macrobiotic practice helps us to develop an orderly rhythm to life and a deep resonance with our unique circumstances.
Pickling and fermenting foods using traditional methods naturally preserves the foods. Secondly these methods enhance the taste and nutritional qualities of the food. This transforms the life of the food by inviting bacteria, microbes and oxygen to derive nourishment from the food and transform it into something new. The most unique and enjoyable foods and beverages in the world come from a simple principle of inviting life in. This is one of the core messages of macrobiotics: let life in.
From this, everyone can learn to make health-supporting choices, no matter the circumstance. The orderly practice of macrobiotics supports the transformation of healthy choices into healthy habits. Our health and environmental health are related. The environment is a direct reflection of our collective state of health. The macro leap embraces the outwardly spiraling journey towards health, for with health, there is life. Are you in for the macro leap?
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.
Walking helps all aspects of our body, emotions, and mind in children and adults alike. Walking aids our digestion and improves circulation. It harmonizes the left and right sides of our body including the intestines, liver and spleen, kidneys, lungs, two chambers of our heart, left and right sides of our brain, and two branches of our autonomic nervous system. Walking helps all of these organs and systems work more harmonious and efficiently. It also stimulates bone metabolism and enhances flexibility.
In Oriental medicine, the digestive system and mind are considered front and back. They are one system. The digestive system processes liquid and the brain and nervous system process vibrations. Healthy digestion leads to a healthy mind, thinking, and learning ability. All natural, life-related activity increases our ability to think and figure things out. When you combine healthy eating with healthy activity you have the best of both worlds. These simple practices are all part of my 7 Steps to a Great Life.
Walking outside makes us feel better in every way– it clears and refreshes the mind and lifts the emotions.
In a recent 60 Minutes interview, Walter Isaacson claimed that Steve Jobs tried to heal himself through alternative healing practices, including “various ways of doing it macrobiotically.” As a macrobiotic teacher and counselor for 40 years, I was disturbed by the light in which macrobiotics was presented in this segment. Furthermore, it does not seem that Steve Jobs’ diet or lifestyle were reflective of a macrobiotic practice.
Introduced to the United States by George Ohsawa and Michio Kushi, and advanced by people like myself, macrobiotics has its roots in traditional Oriental medicine. It is an ever-evolving orderly approach to diet and lifestyle, which does not preclude the use of Western medicine. Macrobiotics is not opposed to surgery or other medical treatments when necessary. Unfortunately, there are many diets that claim to have the efficacy of macrobiotics, but show a true lack of understanding of macrobiotic principles, and therefore often fail. I disagree with Isaacson’s use of the adjective “macrobiotic” in describing Steve Jobs’ diet, as there is no evidence that Steve Jobs sought macrobiotic counseling or practiced a macrobiotic lifestyle.
It is reported that Dr. Dean Ornish advised Mr. Jobs during his illness. While I applaud Dr. Ornish for his holistic approach to health, which includes a low-fat, mostly vegan diet and regular exercise, his plan is not the same as a macrobiotic approach. Macrobiotics is similar to the Ornish plan in that one eats brown rice and vegetables in both diets. However, there are many differences beyond that.
To properly heal oneself of a terminal illness through macrobiotic practice, one must take responsibility for one’s own health, learn the principles, and adapt one’s diet and lifestyle to allow healing to take place. There are no short cuts and everyone has to discover their own path to health. It is also extremely important to seek the guidance of an experienced macrobiotic counselor who will be able to understand your health condition and make proper recommendations.
Regardless of the path chosen, there are no guarantees, and so for Mr. Isaacson to imply that Mr. Jobs would still be alive had he chosen surgery earlier is pure speculation for which there is little or no basis.
Steve Jobs decided on a course of healing that ultimately failed him. Macrobiotics however, did not, as he neither studied nor practiced it.
I thought that everyone would be interested in this New York Times piece about Kris Carr and the rebuttal that Jeff Silberman wrote.
“Every Cancer Has a Silver Lining”
I was interested to read Mireille Silcoff’s article on Kris Carr in the New York Times magazine (8/14/11) as my wife had recently cured herself of breast cancer through her macrobiotic practice (medically documented) in roughly six months while being counseled by Denny Waxman, one of the foremost authorities on Macrobiotics, who has been counseling people to health for almost 40 years based upon a science that is almost 3,000 years old.
So I found it curious when Ms. Carr said that she “flirted” with Macrobiotics for a year, which by anybody’s standard is a long time to flirt (many people consummate and end relationships in that period of time), and to use the term “freakier” in the same sentence seemed both disingenuous and disrespectful. Rather than giving kudos to an ancient science and those dedicated practitioners who were happy to share this knowledge with her, she invents a “freaky” drink (almond butter, cucumber, romaine, kale, ginger and two pears?) or two as the cherry on top of a macrobiotic pie and sells the whole thing as her own invention.
Ms. Carr didn’t invent a plan from which to deal with her cancer all on her own. She enrolled in a year long program with Denny and Susan Waxman at their Strengthening Health Institute in Philadelphia. Before that she met with the Godfather of Macrobiotics, Michio Kushi, in Boston. She received macrobiotic counseling from Warren Kramer, ate macrobiotic food prepared by Kezia Snyder in New York City for 6 months (often the period of time it takes for the macrobiotic diet to rid the body of disease) and she was treated by Shiatsu practitioners Patrick Riley and David Sergel.
Ms. Carr interviewed and filmed Mr. Waxman on several occasions for her movie,”Crazy, Sexy Cancer”, but did not include any of his segments when he refused to sign a waiver which would prohibit him from any input on how his segments were edited.
While Ms. Carr is selling (very well I might add) her “sexy” cancer, she is doing so on the backs of those dedicated people who shared with her their time, skills, knowledge, wisdom and compassion and who brought her back from the abyss. She should know that gratitude and appreciation are also basic tenants of health and healing.
A mother’s diet during pregnancy can alter the DNA of her child and increase the risk of obesity, according to researchers. The study, to be published in the journal Diabetes, showed that eating low levels of carbohydrate changed bits of DNA. Read article