Regulating Thyroid Issues Naturally

Posted on by Denny Waxman

A recent article in the New York Times discusses a link between psychiatric troubles and imbalances in thyroid hormones. Quite often subtle imbalances in thyroid hormones can create depression, anxiety and other psychiatric problems.

From a macrobiotic or energetic point of view, the thyroid is the balancing point between the pituitary and adrenal glands or, you could say, mind and body. The pituitary gland at the base of the brain is the major endocrine gland that regulates all others. The adrenal glands, just above the kidneys, help regulate vitality, metabolism, and help us deal with stress. The thyroid shows an overall balance between mind and body. Problems in the throat region can also be related to difficulty in expressing ourselves or in accepting situations.

Many of my clients express how much more positive, energetic and calm they feel, even after one visit. When we add balance into our diet, activity and lifestyle practices, our hormonal system including these major glands naturally rebalance themselves. The adrenals like beans and root vegetables and the thyroid likes leafy greens and the natural sweetness of vegetables such as onions, carrots and squash. Walking outside also helps all upper body problems.

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Good Parenting Before Birth

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In a recent article in the Chicago Tribune five threats to a healthy pregnancy were listed:
poor nutrition in the womb, air pollution, Bisphenol A (BPA) found in many plastic bottles and the lining of soda and soup cans, depression and viruses. Out of this list we have the most control over our diets. A healthy diet also has the greatest ability to nourish and give protection to the developing fetus from environmental pollutants.

We recently completed a weekend in our year-long course at the Strengthening Health Institute where we discussed embryonic education. This has been a traditional understanding in the orient that has been passed down over the generations.

Embryonic education, which takes place before we are even born, is actually the most important education in our life. It sets our tendencies for health or sickness as well as our tastes in food, music and physical activity. This is consistent with the view of the fetal origins theory, which has been studied in recent years, where diet during pregnancy and infancy sets the future pattern for physical and mental health or illness. There are three main areas of this education: diet, activity and mental-spiritual practices. The dietary recommendations are based on grains and vegetables and include foods that are nourishing, strengthening and protective to the developing fetus. These include brown rice and other whole grains such as barley and millet, a variety of hard, fibrous vegetables, naturally pickled vegetables such as sauerkraut, beans especially azuki and lentils, miso soup and a variety of other foods.

Walking, cleaning and other daily, life-related activities are also important for the developing baby. Pregnancy is natural to life and activity and hard work are important to have a strong baby.

In a world filled with violence it is important to try and read or watch movies and TV shows that are peaceful and inspiring and to avoid shows and books that are violent, negative and overly sexually stimulating.

In my personal counseling practice I have guided many women through pregnancy. Many women who have followed these guidelines have expressed how happy they were that they discovered this understanding in time.

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A Response to Dr. John McDougall’s Article “Why Did Steve Jobs Die?”

Posted on by Denny Waxman

John McDougall’s latest newsletter is titled, Why Did Steve Jobs Die? I read this issue with great interest the moment I received it to see Dr. McDougall’s insight into a question that has many people wondering. Would Steve Jobs’ life have been extended if he had surgery for pancreatic cancer 9 months earlier? John McDougall answers this question with an emphatic no. He further goes on to say that his vegan lifestyle, which has been questioned, actually extended his life by slowing the development of his cancer. Dr. McDougall further suggests that chemical exposure and bad luck caused his cancer. This may well be the case but I think there are additional factors to consider.

Throughout my years of macrobiotic counseling I have observed that our digestive system, especially the pancreas and intestines, thrive on order. The pancreas has two functions: one aids digestive and the other regulates blood sugar. Our blood sugar level follows the rising and setting of the sun. In the morning blood sugar rises so that we can wake and be active. At night it lowers so that we can settle down and sleep, Orderly meal times, along with regular sleep and waking times, help to regulate the healthy functioning of our digestive system and pancreas. On the other hand, extremes in diet and lifestyle stress the pancreas, compromising digestion and making blood sugar erratic. Steve Jobs is famous for extremes in his diet, lifestyle and temperament.

The content of meals is also important to healthy digestion. Our body runs on glucose, a simple sugar. The ideal source of glucose is the complex sugars found in whole grains, beans and vegetables that break down slowly through the digestive process. Fructose, found in fruit and many common sweeteners, is another simple sugar that stresses the pancreas. A UCLA study published in the Washington Post states that pancreatic cancer cells proliferate on fructose and not on glucose. Could it be that Steve Job’s episodes of fruitarianism together with his extreme lifestyle promoted his cancer?

My book, The Great Life Diet, is a practical guidebook to creating healthy, balanced meals and lifestyle practices. It is one of my great regrets that I did not have the opportunity to guide Steve Job’s in these simple and life-altering health practices.

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Eight Glasses of Water a Day?

Posted on by Denny Waxman

An article in Scientific American has raised the question as to whether drinking eight glasses of water a day is fact or fiction. I would like to offer some insights into this. Originally George Ohsawa recommended limiting liquid consumption. This recommendation was changed years ago by Michio Kushi to drinking a comfortable amount to satisfy your thirst.

In the modern American diet almost everything is dry. Meat, chicken, cheese, pizza, bagels and chips are all dry. Coffee, alcohol and caffeinated drinks are dehydrating. When you have a plant that is too dry, water runs right through, even though the water is what it needs most. It takes time until the plant can accept and utilize the water. It is a similar situation with the modern diet. When we consume so many dry foods, liquids tend to run through us. We have more of a need to drink continually as see all the time these days.

In traditional diets as well as the macrobiotic way of eating most foods are wet. Cooked grains, beans, vegetables, soups, salads, fruits, etc. all have a high water content. The most important liquid we consume is through our food, especially when well chewed. This liquid does not just pass through us. When we drink some water or mild tea we easily become well hydrated.

In order to stay well-hydrated, try to consume a variety of cooked foods that are naturally moist and refreshing in addition to drinking a comfortable amount of liquid.

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Sleeping Throughout the Night- Without Sleeping Pills!

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In Oriental medicine and diagnosis opposites show and regulate each other. The night or sleep is a reflection of the quality our diet and activity during the day. Our ability to experience deep and refreshing sleep is an important condition of good health.

A recent article published in the New York Times stated that an increasing number of women are turning to medications to help them sleep. This approach tends to take its toll on our health over time. There are healthier and more natural ways to have a good nights sleep than taking medications. A good diet and eating habits together with a balance of physical and mental activity leads to deep and nourishing sleep.

There are three main types of sleep problems. The first is difficulty falling asleep, especially before midnight. This is usually caused by drinking excess liquids or eating too many watery foods or sweets. The second type where you can fall asleep and then wake after midnight is the opposite. It is caused by eating too many animal foods, well cooked and hard-baked or dry foods.
Finally, there is a third type where you wake around 4 or 5 am. This is a combination of the first two types.

In “The Great Life Diet” I discuss the essentials of creating a healthy diet, eating habits and activity. These practices will help you get the deep and refreshing sleep we all desire.

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How to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Exercise or should I say activity is important for our health. In recent years activity and structured exercise have become confused. We are meant to be active physically and mentally throughout the day. This is what we did before we spent so much time in front of computers and the TV. It was also before we had the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and cancer. Our diet and eating habits have also changed dramatically in recent years. Fast foods have taken the place of real cooked foods and home cooked meals.

We can think of activity as a pump that circulates the energy that is derived from the food we eat. A recent article published on MSNBC stated that, sitting down for long periods may be increasing your cancer risk. This makes perfect sense when you think about it. Doesn’t it make even more sense that eating a healthier diet along with increased activity and less sitting would further reduce our cancer risk.

At the Strengthening Health Institute we recommend a diet centered around whole grains and vegetables that includes a variety of soups, beans, seeds, nuts, fruits, salads, good quality sweets, desserts and fish if desired. We also recommend making your daily life active and including a 30 minute walk outside everyday.

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Some Thoughts on Dietary Supplements

Posted on by Denny Waxman

There has been a lot of controversy about the possible harms of dietary supplements over the years. The October 17 report on NPR has raised this question yet again.

http://www.npr.org/2011/10/17/141411363/americans-urged-to-reconsider-use-of-dietary-supplements

The last time I heard T. Collin Campbell (“The China Study”) speak, he stated that his research showed that it was the food and not the nutrient that gave the benefit and that the results of supplement use were unpredictable.

Common sense and experience tells us that a varied plant based diet along with life-related activity and a positive attitude are the basis of sound and lasting health. I recommend having a grain and a separate vegetable dish with every meal and making sure that you are trying to have regular variety in your diet. Brown rice and steamed kale with every meal do not count as variety—don’t be afraid to mix it up! More details can be found in my book “The Great Life Diet.”

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Risks: Acid Reflux Drugs Tied to Bone Fractures

Posted on by Denny Waxman

A new analysis adds to growing evidence that people using proton pump inhibitors to control symptoms of acid reflux are more likely to fracture bones than those who do not. Read article

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Mother’s diet during pregnancy alters baby’s DNA

Posted on by Denny Waxman

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

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Crazy for coconut? Enjoy it – carefully

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Here are my comments about coconut oil in a recent article in the Phildelphia Daily News.

Crazy for coconut? Enjoy it – carefully
April 21, 2011|By Maria Zankey

Coconut Oil and Carrot Cake. DON’T FEEL too guilty as you crack open that coconut-cream Easter egg, though you might want to save half for later. After nearly two decades of being considered “forbidden” in a healthy diet, coconut and products made with it are being viewed in a new light by some scientists, health nuts and chefs.

Coconut – be it oil, meat, water or milk – has gone from being a cholesterol criminal to an antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal “super food.”

Monica Glass, dessert chef at 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge by Eric Ripert in the Ritz-Carlton, said she inadvertently stumbled upon coconut oil as a potential cooking fat when Googling cholesterol-friendly recipes about two years ago.

“Coconut oil was showing up in a lot of gluten-free recipes,” the West Chester native said. “Bad cholesterol runs in my family, so that was really my main reason for trying it.”

Now, Glass said, she frequently uses a tablespoon “here or there” while cooking at home – mainly in granola bars or her favorite gluten-free muffins. “It makes a very good substitute for sautéing carrots or other vegetables, mainly because it can be liquid or sit firmer like butter. If you use enough of it, you can definitely taste the coconut flavor in your baked goods.”

Glass said her next venture in the kitchen with coconut oil will be using it as a key ingredient to conquer a gluten-free pie or tart crust.

But neighbors haven’t been knocking on doors for a cup of coconut for very long.
The public uproar over coconuts, namely coconut oil, began in the mid-’80s when advertising campaigns funded by the American Soybean Association and the National Health Savers Association brought tropical oils’ high levels of saturated fats to light: 86 grams compared with just 36 grams in lard.

The tropical oils terror was further drawn out in the mid-’90s when the Center for Science in the Public Interest released data revealing that most movie theater concession stands popped their corn in coconut oil because of its ability to cook at a high temperature without smoking. A large tub of popcorn popped in coconut oil, the CSPI said, bulged with nearly 1,600 calories and four days’ worth of saturated fat, double that of a serving of fettuccine Alfredo.

But apparently, comparing oils and saturated fats can be like comparing apples and oranges. The refined coconut oil used in those movie theaters in the ’90s is not the same as the unprocessed virgin coconut oil found in health food stores today.

Coconut oil that has been hydrogenated, a process that makes liquid fats solid to increase shelf life, contains trans fats, which can compromise cardiovascular health, according to the American Dietetic Association.

While virgin coconut oil is trans-fat free, it contains high levels of saturated fat. But the saturated fats in coconut oil are composed of as much as 57 percent lauric acid, a component also found to be an immunity booster in breast milk. And while lauric acid saturated fats do raise overall cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins, it’s not significant enough to make an impact, according to a study released by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In layman’s terms, coconut oil is perfectly safe to use in moderation but perhaps to replace other oils rather than being added to the diet.

Denny Waxman, who co-founded Philly natural food store Essene Market in 1969 and has since moved on to health counseling, has seen similar food “scares” and crazes come and go. His brother Howard Waxman owns the 4th Street store now.

“I just like to sit back and watch any time a new super food comes out,” Denny Waxman said. “We’re always looking for the next ‘wonder food,’ the next thing that’s going to transform us. Whatever it is, it never turns out to be what people thought it was.”

Waxman is a longtime practitioner of macrobiotics, a diet that suggests choosing foods indigenous to your or similar climactic zones yields maximum health benefits. So while Waxman prefers sesame and olive oil, he said, coconut oil is not the health villain it had been made out to be.

And for vegans or gluten-free dieters, coconut oil can be a miracle ingredient. With the ability to take on both liquid and solid states depending on its temperature, it’s been used to replace butter or other trans-fatty oils. It’s also appreciated for its nutty, sweetening flavor.

“The [dietary] purpose of oil is to make food more digestible, absorb minerals, fat-soluble vitamins and calcium,” Waxman said. “Cooking with oil steps up the ability to get more energy from food. But whether you’re using sesame or olive or coconut oil, we should use it more sparingly than liberally.”

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