Confused About Protein? Don’t be!

Posted on by Denny Waxman

 

Food can be just as addictive as cigarettes.

Food can be just as addictive as cigarettes.

Article from the Telegraph UK: “High-Protein Diet ‘as bad for health as smoking’”

To paraphrase T. Colin Campbell, epigenetics controls genetics and food controls epigenetics, or how our genes are turned on or off and express themselves. According to Neal Barnard, M.D. genes are merely a suggestion. This gets to the root of many things, which also offers another powerful testament to ourselves: we are ultimately in control of the switches than can determine health or sickness. This article demonstrates a lot of the confusion created between researchers and doctors within the field of medicine.

A poor diet is more harmful than smoking; more people die of diet-related illness than do from smoking. Everyone now knows that tobacco is highly addictive and has been manufactured to become more addictive overtime, and the same thing can be said for food and food manufacturers. The sad thing is that although health craves health, it works the same way with sickness.

The problem with the article, besides the conflicting reports of analysis between researchers and doctors, was in the conclusion. After all the research about protein, the types of proteins and the types of intakes at different ages within a research population, “British experts agreed that cutting down on red meat had been proven to lower the risk of cancer but said a balanced diet was still the best option,” saying nothing about what constitutes a balanced diet!

Plant-based diets using a variety of cooking methods that include grains, beans and vegetables and other plant-based foods provides the proper balance of minerals, proteins and carbohydrates that we need to operate at optimum health and efficiency. This proper balance of protein within a plant-based diet is suitable for all ages in life, from young to old.

2 Comments | Tags: Articles and Research, Cancer

Can Food and Learning Be Separate?

Posted on by Denny Waxman
Bound for college after a family meal.

Bound for college after a family meal.

I’ve recently come upon a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published in November 2013. The article discusses the results of a survey conducted in four European countries concerning the effect that food has on learning and mental performance in primary school children. The survey participants were all parents. The results of the survey are interesting, as they reflect the opinions and perceptions of an array of parents regarding the connections they associate with how food, biology, the school environment, social factors, psychological factors and physical factors affect a child’s ability to learn. The study broke up “mental performance” into four main elements: attention, learning, mood, and behavior.

Unanimously across the four countries, the parents felt that sleep and activity as well as mood and behavior were more important factors affecting learning than food. Parents agreed that the regularity of meals had the most powerful perceived effect of food on mental performance. I was surprised that there was no correlation made between how food affects activity and sleep and also mood and behavior. Simply put, if we eat whole-food, plant-based meals, we naturally become more active with an agreeable and even mood.

Healthy children are naturally curious. Healthy food fosters natural curiosity and a desire to learn. Healthy food and good eating habits strengthens digestion, which helps develops stronger thinking ability and memory. This is because our digestive system is our body’s second nervous system made up of the same types of cells. A useful thing to remember is that healthy digestion promotes healthy thinking.

It was also interesting to me that family meals were not part of this study in relation to food or social aspects to learning.  A family meal is a time where we eat and talk together without distraction. Recent research has indicated that family meals reduce the risk of obesity and substance abuse. Family meals encourage children to think about the future in the company of supportive, engaged family members.

As studies such as these begin to publish with more regularity, I feel as if “The Great Life Diet” would be a great educational tool for children and parents alike.

 

 

4 Comments | Tags: Articles and Research

Nature’s View of the Night Shift

Posted on by Denny Waxman
<a href='http://fineartamerica.com/featured/camping-under-the-stars-quincy-dein.html' size='20'><img src='http://fineartamerica.com/displayartwork.html?id=3613901&width=249&height=166' alt='Photography Prints' title='Photography Prints' style='border: none;'></a>

“Camping Under the Stars” by Quincy Dein

 

The BBC recently published an article about the effects on the body as a result of working the night shift. It is no surprise that the overall conclusion was that it is not good for us, but one result of the research was that the “speed and severity of damage caused by being awake at night was a surprise.”

 

Night shift workers are a more extreme example of what happens when we move away from natural cycles, which have developed with the rhythms of the sun. All of life moves according to the sun’s movement. The most harmonious order for our health is to rise early, eat at regular times, settle down in the evening, and sleep deeply at night. We have the best ability to get deep, refreshing sleep between midnight and four, which correlates with the time when the most stars are visible.

 

Our natural rhythm is of intake and discharge. During the day, our bodies take in for activity and at night, our organs and nervous system recharge, repair, and gather excess, which is eliminated in the morning. Upon rising, we go to the bathroom and do our morning routine.

 

According to Oriental Medicine, different parts of our body are nourished at different times of the day. The activation of our organs also follows a rhythm. Our kidneys and bladder– the seat of vitality, balance, and elimination– are most active at night when we are in a horizontal position. Our liver and gallbladder are more active in the morning to do the job of fat metabolism and detoxification.  The heart and small intestine is activated by being upright and vertical around noon. A nourishing lunch starting before 1 p.m. activates our lymph and immune systems, harmonizes our blood sugar and resets our biological clock. Walking outside during a lunch break is a very heart healthy practice. Settling down in the evening helps to regulate our lungs and large intestine. Our various organ systems work in accord with natural cycles daily as well as seasonally.

 

Another result of some studies was that “shift workers getting too little sleep at the wrong time of day may be increasing their risk of type-2 diabetes and obesity.” We have the greatest ability to release excess early in the morning and at night our body repairs itself. When we are awake at night and continuously taking in during these hours, we accumulate and are unable to normally release the accumulated excess. If we sleep during the day, our organs get out of sync. If we take a nap sometime after lunch, however, we align with the receding energy of the day.

 

For ex-night shift workers or the sleeping impaired, the best thing you can do to re-align with natural cycles is to start rising by 7 a.m. and eat a regular lunch by 1 p.m. A daily walk outside helps us to reconnect with nature as well.

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

Al Gore Goes Vegan-It’s Not Stopping Meat, It’s How You Stop It

Posted on by Denny Waxman
Earth as Viewed from Apollo 17

Earth as Viewed from Apollo 17

Food choices, diets and our relationship to the production of food are becoming more and more prevalent in national discussions. People are becoming more openly aware of food personally, socially and environmentally.  A recent article in The Washington Post about Al Gore’s choice to become vegan came out a couple of weeks ago. Eliminating meat is the most environmentally healthy decision an individual can make. I’d like to congratulate Al Gore on making this decision and reinforcing his dedication and practice as an environmentalist. I hope that as a result, people will better understand the urgency necessary to make a dietary choice in relation to personal and environmental health.  At the same time, however, I believe there is a right way to move forward in the direction towards sustainability regarding diet and lifestyle.

With recent insights and evidence mounting in support of a whole-food plant-based diet as demonstrated by T. Colin Campbell, I believe it is important to go beyond looking at what we eat as a single, mechanically separated facet of our lives, and begin to consider food as an integral part of our entire lifestyle and approach to life. Learning how to make informed, dietary choices and developing healthy habits that will last over the course of a lifetime is a real kind of sustainability that is attainable by every individual who makes the choice to lessen or stop meat.

As our modern environments are largely unhealthy, it is up to individuals to take the initiative to create environments where health thrives. Health craves health and as we develop habits that foster healthier and healthier choices, the environment will reflect that. Our relationship with our environment and health are reflections of each other that in turn affect each other exponentially.

The most basic and real sustainability that we have control over is in our food choices. In order for food choices to be sustainable for our health and well-being, they must be delicious and satisfying. Although this may require from us the time and dedication to learn to cook, prepare and eat, as our knowledge of the food grows, so does our satisfaction over time.  Furthermore, we also have the ability to learn how to make better food choices in restaurants or in any other circumstance. And over time, these skills and habits we form with our food become easy in the long run, when we look at the scale of a lifetime.  Our food choices should center around what nourishes us and in turn, brings out our best. Most often, these foods happen to be those that are indigenous to our unique climates and ecosystems. Although eating “local” is important, eating foods native to our climatic zones fosters the connection we have to the environments where we live. For example, eating local foods in season helps make us more aware of the changes of the seasons themselves, for starters.

There is more to changing one’s diet than lessening/stopping meat; it is how you go about it. As the topics of the sources of our food and seed, our agricultural practices, our environments and our dietary/health patterns become more prominent in our cultural awareness, it would not be surprising to me if more and more people decide to lessen or stop their consumption of meat.  As much as I support this choice, I would also like those to be aware of the enormous potential to drastically change the course and quality of one’s life this kind of choice has. The potential to become in control of one’s direction towards health, towards a lifestyle that fosters sustainable and local communities and nourishes both the body and the mind.

 

No Comments | Tags: Articles and Research

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 – 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

Seven Things I Believe In

Posted on by Denny Waxman

These are some things that I have been thinking about recently that I wanted to share with you.

1. Everyone has the right to health and happiness. Unfortunately in our country the majority of people do not enjoy these basic rights. There is a severe lack of the understanding of the basic principles that create strong and lasting health. So much of the information available is confusing, misleading or just plain wrong. Many people also do not have easy or affordable access to healthy food choices.

2. Your body wants to be healthy. Health is more natural than sickness. It takes about 10% to 15% of the time to return to health as it did to become sick. Even if we have spent a lifetime abusing our body and getting sick, our health starts to return quickly from dietary and lifestyle adjustments. As a macrobiotic consultant, my clients often tell me how amazed they are with their health improvements in a short time. Even after two to three weeks they report sleeping better, better bowel movements, more energy, more enjoyment and satisfaction from their meals and feeling more positive, motivated and inspired.

3. Health is a direction in life. Health or sickness is a direction not a state. Every day we are moving towards health or sickness. Health is not a static condition. It develops though our daily habits. Sickness is the same. The combination of a good diet and eating habits, activity and lifestyle practices over time move us towards health. We all have the ability to improve our health on all levels day by day through these lifestyle choices. It is unfortunate that most people are unnecessarily moving towards sickness each day due to a lack of understanding of these basic principles.

4. Health is simple. We do not need to do special or complicated things to be healthy. Good food, good activity and a good attitude are the basis of strong and lasting health. Good food means a varied plant based diet, local when possible. Good activity includes anything that is life-related; walking outside, taking the stairs, cleaning, dancing, yoga, mindfulness practice, meditation, outdoor recreational activities and sports for fun and self challenge, rather than professional sports. The Strengthening Health approach to macrobiotics helps create a good attitude. A good attitude means that we try to be positive and open to the possibility of change and creating lasting health. It also includes the development in the confidence of our ability to create our own health.

5. Lasting health is a spiritual condition. Spiritual health, the cultivation of endless appreciation for all of life, leads to mental, emotional and physical health. Health starts with a spiritual revolution that leads to changes in our daily habits and attitudes. This process does not work in the opposite direction. Physical training alone does not lead to mental and emotional development and refinement.

6. Your daily choices influence society, the climate and environment. What you do for yourself, you also do for others. The process of self love and caring through our daily choices, activities and attitudes also influence others. Eating a plant based diet ensures that there will be enough food for everyone on our planet. There is enough food when we eat the grains and beans directly rather than feed them mainly to animals. Eating a plant based diet preserves precious natural resources, especially water and land. It also greatly decreases pollution and green house gases that contribute to global warming. According to recent research most modern diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many common cancers are preventable or reversible with a plant based diet. There are many other benefits that I will discuss in the future.

7. Two important changes have occurred in the last couple years that will allow large-scale change to happen. I have wondered for many years if these ideas can become mainstream and start to create large-scale changes in our society. I have hoped I could see these changes in my lifetime but often doubted that I would. Due to recent changes in our attitudes I now believe that I will be able to see and experience these changes. The relation between diet and health has become mainstream. Recent research alone has shown that eating less meat alone can make a major difference in global warming. This is a social, environmental and health practice that is open to all of us. More and more people believe that they can make a difference through their daily lifestyle choices.

2 Comments | Tags: 7 Steps, Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, Macrobiotic Philosophy

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

Holy Cow, Part 2

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I just finished reading Mark Bittman’s blog in the NY Times with great interest and I could not agree more with his conclusions about the downside of drinking cow’s milk. I am happy to know that this subject has been published in a source that is so widely respected and available. Many more people will now be aware of the various harmful aspects of drinking milk.

I agree that lifelong exercise and vitamin D are essential for healthy bones. However, I would like to add that it is also important to regularly consume the foods, especially leafy greens and beans, that nourish our overall health including building strong and healthy bones. For more details on the essential foods for bone health please see my previous blog, Holy Cow, Calcium From the Source!

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, Immune System

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