Pilates Glossy Interview

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I was recently interviewed for a Pilates Glossy in The Netherlands. Thank you Marjolein van Sonsbeek, for reaching out over the ocean and sharing macrobiotics with your audience.

Here is the transcript of the interview:

 

A class with Susan and me, photo courtesy of Susan

A Strengthening Health Intensive Seminar with Susan and me, photo courtesy of Susan


Do you have a company related to macrobiotics?

The Strengthening Health Institute is a 501 c3 non-profit educational center based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the SHI, we offer educational courses for both personal study and professional training with our unique approach to macrobiotics. I also have a personal counseling practice in both Philadelphia and New York City, and recently online via Skype. My ability is to do what medicine can’t and I help many people with serious illnesses recover and create lasting health. I also counsel healthy people to live long, productive, healthy lives.
 

What made you live by the rules of Macrobiotics?

I do not really consider macrobiotic practice to be a set of rules to follow. Rather, we do have guidelines that we can use to create an orderly approach to life. These guidelines help us make healthy choices in diet, activity, and lifestyle practices. When I was younger, George Ohsawa’s message about personally creating the health and life that you want started me on the macrobiotic path. His message was dramatically different from trying to fit yourself into a mold.
 

How is your way of life different now than it used to be?

Before I became macrobiotic, I was not a happy camper. I found no satisfaction from food or life. Now I wake up each day wondering about what I can do, what I can learn, what I can discover; how I can live more and more fully each day.
 

Have you changed a lot about the way you live?

I have been practicing for forty-five years now. My life is now more about making conscious choices about how I want to live and being more aware of how my choices impact my family, society, and the environment.
 

What part of macrobiotics do you find the hardest?

There are certain changes in lifestyle that may be perceived of as difficult, such as buying food and finding somewhere for dining out, which requires a bit more forethought. These considerations are a deterrent for some. But overall, I find many peoples’ attitude towards macrobiotics and lack of acceptance (or the unwillingness to give the practice a chance) to be the most challenging thing as a practitioner. Even though macrobiotics is the longest-standing way of eating and lifestyle practice, it is also still the most progressive at the same time.
 
Do you live a 100% plant-based lifestyle? If so, does that extend to your clothing and shoes and such?

My life style is primarily plant-based, but I occasionally eat fish, and wear leather shoes and belts. Considerations such as quality and sustainability always factor into any decision.
 

Who was your inspiration?

Originally, my inspiration was to seek a more meaningful life. I did not want to go to Vietnam, so I began reading from various authors (such as Herman Hesse and Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi”). All of the practices and philosophies however, said that a teacher or mentor was necessary and I did not have a relationship with one, and had no way of finding one. Yet, George Ohsawa taught that we as individuals could create our own health and happiness as well as provided the guidelines to make that possible. That was a revelation for me.
 

What do you eat on an average day? Are there certain things you miss in particular?

I try to base all of my meals around grains and vegetables with a variety of local and indigenous foods. The most substantial meal of the day is lunch, which is more grain and vegetable based, and dinner is a lighter meal, usually with more Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, or Mexican influence. My practice is dynamic and has evolved over the years, and is usually based on the needs of our clients and students. My practice has expanded to include more choices and varieties of cuisines. My experience and observation is that eating healthy food becomes more and more satisfying over time.
 

A Macrobiotic salad, photo by Susan Waxman

A Macrobiotic salad, photo by Susan Waxman


How has macrobiotics changed you physically and mentally? Can you give us an example?

I still weight the same as I had when I was 16, and I am still relatively flexible. I find that as I age, my thinking has become more clear and open as the years go on, which is in contrast to the idea that as we age, our minds deteriorate.
 

Can you tell our readers your view on macrobiotics?

My view on macrobiotics is that it is the practice of expressing and living the spirit of gratitude and having an endless appreciation for all of life. The spirit of Macrobiotics is based on Nature’s model; one grain naturally produces 10,000. In practice, I find it to be the most embracing and open way of life. This is why I have dedicated my life to exploring and sharing the spirit of macrobiotics since I was nineteen years old.
 

Macrobiotics had quite a hippie image for a while. Do you think that’s still the case?

Originally, macrobiotics appealed to hippies, who helped develop the practice. I believe though that the practice appeals to innovators. In the 60s, macrobiotics became more widely available in the West through the work of the author, William Dufty, who translated “You Are All Sanpaku” and authored “Lady Sings the Blues”. Historically, some of the world’s most prolific contributors were primarily grain and vegetable eaters, from Ben Franklin to Albert Einstein. Macrobiotics appeals to young people and to those on the cutting edge of their fields: be they scientists, musicians, architects, etc.
 

Are there less enjoyable side effects to macrobiotics?

Some individuals experience uncomfortable transitional symptoms when they begin to detox. Yet others feel really good from day one.

 

Have you done courses in macrobiotics? If so, where?

I offer lectures and courses around Philadelphia. We also offer all of our courses at The Strengthening Health Institute online. I have also taught throughout the United States, Eastern and Western Europe, the UK, Scandinavia, as well as in parts of Asia, mostly in Japan and Taiwan.
 

Are you (still) studying macrobiotics? If so, what are your latest eye-openers?

I study macrobiotics everyday; it is a never-ending exploration. Lately, I am excited about the recent, large-scale acceptance of the important relationship between individual food choices and overall health, even if there are no unanimous agreements on which approach is the healthiest. Scientific research has, for some years now, slowly been validating the major premises and lifestyle practices of macrobiotics. Now, I see the potential that macrobiotics has with verifying trends to current nutritional scientific theories.
 

Is there a sport that you practice? If so, can you tell me more about it?

I was never one much for sports, but I was a gymnast as a teenager. Now I find Yoga to be a good complement to my lifestyle and activities.
 

Have you done pilates before? If so, what did you think?

I have not had the experience of Pilates yet.
 

What is your dream/goal in life? How are you going to make sure you achieve that or have you already achieved it?

My dream has always been to create and experience large-scale social change. I have been working to share and bring into the mainstream our Strengthening Health Approach to macrobiotic practice because it is open and flexible and can be combined with other approaches to a plant-based lifestyle.
I believe that the combination of our knowledge and understanding of history and tradition together with science can develop into a medicine for the future. I’m currently working on making macrobiotic education available online to more people and trying to establish networks with like-minded, interesting individuals and groups who are constantly looking to play the game of health.
 

Did you write a book? If so, can you tell something about it?

I wrote “The Great Life Diet” as the handbook for our style of macrobiotic practice. My wife, Susan, and I have recently updated and expanded the book to twice the length of the original. “The Complete Macrobiotic Diet” Is available online and at retail bookstores countrywide; it includes the spiritual philosophy underlying the practice as well as recipes and menu plans developed by Susan. Our hope is that “The Complete Macrobiotic Diet” helps to change the image and perception of macrobiotic practice so that it is more acceptable for the modern audience. We are very happy to have received endorsements from T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Neal Barnard (founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), two forerunners in the medical field who have dedicated much of their career to promoting the benefits of a whole-foods, plant-based diet.

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

Do you soak your grain?

Posted on by Denny Waxman
Rice growing in the fields of Blue Moon Acres Farm.

Rice growing in the fields of Blue Moon Acres Farm.

A number of my longtime clients are elderly women who have come to me with a variety of health concerns.  I have counseled these women over many years regarding their diet and lifestyle practices according to macrobiotic principles.  Some of these women have had serious falls where you would except them to break a bone,  and surprisingly they have not.  I attribute their strong bones and quick recovery to their macrobiotic practice.  Even those of my clients that have experienced broken bones, have healed in about half the time expected.  This would not be the case if they had osteoporosis.

 

In addition, my longtime observation is that children who were born and raised following the macrobiotic diet and lifestyle have stronger and thicker bones than their peers.   This is something I have found to be true around the world.  Both of these situations lead me to believe that there is not a problem with phytic acid and mineral absorption from the amount of grain we eat as part of our macrobiotic practice.

 

There is a general consensus that soaking grains is desirable for taste and digestibility; however there is not a general agreement on the best method for soaking grains.  I found the information in the blog post from macrosano.com very interesting and helpful.  I would like to inform you of the way we recommend soaking grains.  Experiment and see which way you like best.  The only way to really know is to try a specific way for weeks or months and try to see which method is more suitable.  If you are not sure, you can always vary your soaking method.

 

This is our method for soaking and cooking rice.  We recommend rinsing the rice in cold water two or three times.  Measure out the water for cooking and soak overnight or longer, basically between 8-22 hours.  Overnight soaking is more beneficial.  When ready to cook the rice, add a pinch of sea salt or a half inch square piece of kombu and then boil or pressure cook as normal.

We’ve been soaking grains in this way for many years and feel very comfortable in it.  Brown rice is the most sensitive food to our intentions, feelings and emotions; it is uniquely sensitive to our own condition.  Taking time to properly prepare rice in this manner ensures a happy and satisfying meal.  Soaking and cooking rice in this manner is not an afterthought; it is an act that conveys respect and appreciation.

Rice drying at Blue Moon Acres Farm

Rice drying at Blue Moon Acres Farm

4 Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, grains, Macrobiotics, osteoporosis, plant-based diet

Diet is Related to More Than Personal Health

Posted on by Denny Waxman

It’s no longer a personal choice of whether to eat animal or dairy foods or not. Our planet can only support the production of animal and dairy foods for a limited number of people. At the same time, the environmental effects of animal and dairy foods is devastating. Take a look at this graph that shows the differences of impact from a vegan diet, a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, and an omnivorous diet*.

Environmental Impact from Various Diets from MDPI study

Environmental Impact from Various Diets from MDPI study

Whether we like it or not, everything we do impacts climate, society and the environment. It is becoming more clear that eating and raising animals is the most devastating thing we are doing to the environment.

So it’s no longer a question about what the healthiest diet is. Raising grains, beans, and vegetables and eating them directly nourishes us at the most basic level. You can feed the entire planet on grains and beans and the agriculture devoted to the cultivation of grains and beans is in turn nurturing and sustaining to the planet. Understanding this connection means that we can all do our part to restore and help the environment we live in to heal.

*Baroni, L.; Berati, M.; Candilera, M.; Tettamanti, M. Total Environmental Impact of Three Main Dietary Patterns in Relation to the Content of Animal and Plant Food. Foods 20143, 443-460.

No Comments | Tags: Articles and Research

Amberwaves, Elizabeth Karaman, and macrobiotics

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Good morning,

I would like to share with you an informative and entertaining article by my friend Elizabeth Karaman about the trials of therapy, extreme work-outs, and macrobiotics. This article will be published by Amberwaves later this summer. Enjoy!

Below is a PDF of the article that you may want to share.

Acupuncture With A Fork – 6-8-14

 

ACUPUNCTURE WITH A FORK

Elizabeth Karaman

 

Reprinted from Amberwaves, Summer 2014

 

My best friend, a shrink, has a patient she calls grouchy girl due to her reactions to suggestions made to her during their sessions. Every range of emotion is expressed, from sullen anger to stomping on the floor while raging against her plight in life and her (imagined) beleaguered state. After her visit, grouchy girl feels compelled to work out her perceived unhappy existence at a gym where she pedals away on a bike in a frenzy. Or alternatively she attends a boot-camp session taught by a former navy seal.  Despite her tremendous effort to silence her angry inner voice, she is still left emotionally frustrated. Her volatility gets temporarily anesthetized, but still ripples throughout her being.

Extreme workouts are the latest trend for burning body fat and for emulsifying a jagged brain chemistry. High-Intensity Training is the name of this current workout craze to be found at selected gyms throughout the country. It’s no longer enough to lift some weights and follow that with a thirty-minute aerobic session. All of a sudden, this routine is shunned—it seems the extreme workout people believe it’s no longer adequate to remove all the body fat found on most Americans now. Speed running or intense cycling for short bursts of time are what’s required, they say. I guess none of these athletic connoisseurs have ever seen the star macrobiotic counselor Denny Waxman or the vegan doctor John McDougall, both of whom possess trim bodies despite their supposedly no-no diet of 80 percent carbohydrates, ten percent protein, and 10 percent fat. They do exercise, but moderately, and their diet is currently reviled by the paleo-enthusiasts and the gluten-free mavens.

At a gym, a lot of these people pay more than $100.00 an hour to get as sleek as a jaguar, but unfortunately for them, their jungle physiques have yet to be attained. Instead, they acquire a lot of muscle and stamina on top of their fat stomachs filled with big pharma’s medications to lower stubbornly high cholesterol levels, off-the-charts high blood pressure, and borderline elevated glucose. These rigid people wouldn’t dare eat a single kernel of any wholegrain food. Instead they eat bison or buffalo meat, along with the standard beef, chicken, fish staples, combined with salads loaded with olive oil. Protein is the key component of their supposedly healthy regimen. What they’re not being told is that places like MD Anderson Cancer Centers and the Salk Institute, among others, have learned that animal protein fuels the growth of cancer cells, in addition to contributing enough plaque to the cardiovascular system to cause a heart attack.

Accompanying 100-mile runs, double-spinning classes, and boot camps, body detox centers have arrived to provide the latest choice of purges.

Take your pick:

  • Drink enough saltwater to induce vomiting—this supposedly cleanses the contents of the stomach;
  • Drink water with epsom salts to induce diarrhea and further rid the body of toxins.

But wait, that’s not enough…

  • Also offered are extended juice fasts, colonics, and wheat-grass rectal infusions.
  • If more cleansing is in order, chelation therapy, ozone therapy, or bloodletting can be offered to satisfy the most fastidious customers.

In the 1970s, I visited China where I saw skinny yet muscular Chinese slurp down a bowl of noodles and then scamper up a palm tree as if it were a flight of stairs. Their diet contained tons of white rice along with a lot of Chinese vegetables and condiment-size portions of animal protein. They all had low body fat, tons of hair, clear skin, and flat stomachs. I was told that many of the men fathered children at an age when most men in America were reaching for Cialis to get their hydraulic system to work.

During the mid-eighties, my husband and I ran so low on money while vacationing in Florida that we were forced to forego such treats as ice cream, exotic, costly tropical fruits, expensive cheeses, and any animal food from land or sea in order to save enough money to get home. Instead we dined on the basic components of a macrobiotic diet. In my kitchen there, I still had brown rice, tofu, seaweed, lentils, cabbage, and collard greens—our splurge was on a bakery loaf of bread and rolled oats. In one week, my husband lost eight pounds and  I lost five, but we gained an inner calm and natural energy. All this for a few dollars, compared to the thousands it would have cost to join a gym or go to a detox spa.

Basically, macrobiotics is nothing more than acupuncture with a fork, which manages to balance the body without employing extreme measures. Give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised and like what you find.

6 Comments | Tags: Articles and Research

Give Youths Back Their Health

Posted on by Denny Waxman
Play, or mischief?

Play, or mischief?

The Wellness section of The New York Times recently published a blog about the climbing numbers of sedentary youth in the country. Despite all claims that we as a country are making advances in health, it is clear that our health is declining and longevity is falling. Young people are at risk for developing degenerative illness, especially cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as cancer. In addition, 1/3 of our children between the ages of 6-19 are overweight or obese. There is a great concern that the U.S. is falling behind in education as well. There is a clear connection between being sedentary and a lack of interest or inability to learn.

 

Healthy people like to be active, challenge themselves, and learn. Throughout history, throughout the world, children have played outside without our involvement from morning until night, summer through winter. Why is it that our children no longer want to play? Being sedentary is a very clear indicator of poor overall health.

 

The article blames parents for not helping their children to exercise. That is not the solution. Healthy parents who are active and curious about life usually have children that grow up and foster similar attitudes and approaches. Health is a family issue. We learn about health through eating healthy foods at mealtimes. When healthy foods are reinforced at school, it becomes easier for children to make healthy choices.

 

Large quantities of poor-quality food do not encourage us to be active or foster an interest in learning.  We also have total access to unhealthy foods, but we have to seek out and make an effort to find high-quality, healthy foods.  Proper education about the long-lasting benefits of a plant-based diet and increasing access to healthy foods is the best solution for our youth and our future.

 

Michio and Aveline Kushi started the natural foods movement in the 60s by creating access to whole, natural, and organic foods. They encouraged the development of natural food stores and educational centers to make the food available and to teach people how to incorporate these foods into their daily lives. Now is a good time to make macrobiotic-style education more widely available so that a new generation of healthy children are better equipped to create a healthy future.

 

3 Comments | Tags: Articles and Research

Mom was always right

Posted on by Denny Waxman
The Atlantic recently published an article about broccoli sprout tea:
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables have similar effects on mitigating air pollution.
Chemo-prevention is much better than chemo-therapy.

No Comments | Tags: Articles and Research, Uncategorized

Obesity in the U.S.

Posted on by Denny Waxman

The U.S. Leads the way again! Unfortunately, it is individual obesity rate.

 

City Lab Obesity Report

 

How many people do you know practicing macrobiotics or other plant-based diets have issues with being overweight or obese?

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

The Importance of Sunlight in the Morning

Posted on by Denny Waxman

There was a slideshow from weather.com called “7 Signs You Need More Sunlight– and Don’t Know It.” The morning sun helps many emotional and physical discomforts.

 

We have the greatest ability to release unneeded excess in the early morning hours close to sunrise. It happens as soon as our feet literally hit the ground. The sun rises with a burst of energy that evaporates the dew. This evaporation refreshes everything. The rising sun affects us similarly. This explains why it is more difficult to get started on a rainy or cloudy day. However, whether we can see the sun or not, we still have the best ability to clean and refresh ourselves early in the morning. If we go out and become directly exposed to the early morning sun, we are even more fully charged with its energy.

Philadelphia Dawn Covered with Fog and Dew

 

It’s also important to understand the overall rhythm of the day and night. We eat during the day and are active. At night we utilize the food we ate during the day to maintain and repair ourselves. We recharge our brain, nervous system and organs during the night. The activity during the day charges us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Furthermore, during the night with deep sleep, the inactivity allows us to be nourished by the celestial energies that are blocked by the sun during the day. Before we wake, we gather the physical and energetic excess to release upon rising. Upon rising, we reset our biological clocks and activate our metabolism for the day.

 

This relationship is a bit like breathing. When we breathe in more deeply, we breathe out more deeply. We connect more with our ourselves through this breathing, and receive more air and oxygen. The day for us is breathing in and gathering, and the night like breathing out and releasing. When we start the day earlier, we are able to “breathe” the day more deeply and in turn, become more nourished.

 

4 Comments | Tags: Articles and Research, Macrobiotics, Mental Health

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