You may want to check out Colin Campbell’s review of the film “Fed Up”.
I would like to add some thoughts about singling out sugar as the cause of our health problems. Historically, the Industrial Revolution was the beginning of large-scale nutritional imbalance through the disruption of eating patterns and increased, large-scale food refining. Animal food, dairy and sugar consumption have increased since that time, together with the rise in degenerative illness.
Trying to stop something is rarely successful; the weight-loss industry demonstrates this. The only approach that can produce long-lasting heath is a varied and satisfying whole food plant-based diet combined with good eating habits and lifestyle practices.
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Mona Schwartz passed on Jan 2, 2014. She was 78 and had spent the last 30 years of her life in Derha Dun, India where she was known as “Mona Organic Schwartz”, a local hero. She was one of those people who was truly larger than life.
Mona was my first true counseling client. She wandered into Essene in the mid-‘70s looking for me in the hopes that I could help her recover her health through macrobiotic practice. We had a mutual friend who referred her. Mona, among other illnesses, had idiopathic edema (a.k.a. swelling from an unknown origin) a debilitating health concern that doctors were unable to help. Her body would swell to amazing proportions. At the time, I did not know that it was the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship. I would help her regain her health and she would become my very dear friend, advisor, and mentor.
I was not an experienced counselor at that time and I knew this would be my first real challenge and a valuable lesson as well. When she was standing there before me I had the first real test of my diagnosis; was she yin or yang? I told her that she was too yang and I could help her if she could follow my directions. She told me she thought that I was right because her sodium was too high. I guessed she must have read a George Ohsawa book and had some insight into yin and yang. Michio Kushi told me that if I wanted to understand the healing process, I had to follow one client from beginning to end. I thought to myself that Mona would be that person and I told her that she would have access to me 24/7 for one year. Mona took full advantage of that year and felt free to call on me day or night during that period.
Mona always seemed to have a life or death crisis of pain, swelling or difficulty breathing. Some of them may have been life threatening, but I just took each crisis as another day with Mona. Mona followed my advice to the letter. She almost never varied from what I recommended and tried to implement it to the best of her ability. The few occasions when she wandered out on her own and ate something outside of my recommendations, the pain she suffered put an end to that until I eventually gave her the okay.
She was a very social person and always wanted to be part of the tightly knit macrobiotic community that was in Philadelphia at the time. When we went to a restaurant Mona insisted on going along. I told her that there was nothing she could eat there but she didn’t care, she just wanted to be part of the group and enjoy the conversation and celebration. Mona would take a small piece of what everyone ordered and put it on her plate. She never touched a bite of it and was happy as could be just to see other people enjoying. It was indicative of her deep enjoyment of all of life. She knew her time would come when she would be able to enjoy the food without sacrifice to her health. Mona’s health steadily improved as the year was drawing to a close. Little by little, I told Mona she could enjoy certain dishes when she joined our outings. When I finally told her she was well enough to continue on her own, our relationship began to change.
Mona was at my house when Dr. Anthony Satillaro first came. Dr. Satillaro was the president of Methodist hospital and had terminal prostate cancer. I would help him together with my wife Judy, at the time, and most of the extensive Philadlephia macrobiotic community. After he left, she very strongly told me to look after him the same way as I had done for her. I told Mona that I wanted to see if he was really interested first. After a week or so it became apparent that he was serious. He would come to Essene everyday, shop and ask questions. At that point, I followed Mona’s advice and invited the doctor to start eating at my house. It was one of my first experiences with her powerful intuition and our changing roles.
Mona was starting to become my mentor. Of course Mona was always at the house as well. These dinners gave me the opportunity to subtly adjust Satillaro’s dietary recommendations daily and speed his recovery. It also gave me the opportunity to refine and gain a deeper confidence in my own healing ability. Around this time, Mona started to broaden her macrobiotic experience and spend more time studying and working with Michio and Aveline Kushi. She then spent time in Boston with Michio and Aveline and later moved to Miami to run the macrobiotic center there under their direction.
Throughout the years, we kept close contact whether she was in Boston, Miami or India. I do not recall the year she went on a trip to India, but she instantly fell in love and decided to move there. India was Mona’s pay back, her love, and her passion. She wanted to give back to the ancient civilization of India that has given us so much that we draw on in macrobiotic practice and philosophy. She would go on to start farmer’s markets, train chefs and teachers in macrobiotics and re-introduce brown rice. There is a wonderful obituary that I came across that will convey more of her spirit and accomplishments.
Over the years, Mona told me that I was not emphasizing something very important in my teachings. In her words, when you are sick you can take all of the help you need to recover. However, once you recover you need to pay it back ten thousand fold. This is the way of nature and the true spirit of macrobiotics that George Ohsawa taught. Of course I talked about this in my teaching, but I did not emphasize it and drive it home in the way I should have. It was a shortcoming that she constantly drew to my attention. Here is a Youtube video of Mona talking about her experience with macrobiotics.
Mona was a fellow traveler along the macrobiotic path. She’s a true example of transforming poor health into a great, exciting life. She first came to me for dietary advice. Though many recover with a macrobiotic way of eating and lifestyle, many do not continue to follow the spirit of health by giving back according to nature’s model. Mona’s transformation lead her to begin to spread and teach what she had learned. And then she decided to go to India to endlessly perpetuate the bounty she received from macrobiotics in its spiritual homeland.
In later and more recent years, Mona would always tell me it is up to me to change macrobiotics and make it more mainstream. She would scold me in her loving way and tell me that I need to make macrobiotics more spiritual and re-emphasize the aspects of personal and social transformation.
It is now a unique time for macrobiotics and its place in the world. Macrobiotics is a hub that can unify the whole-food plant-based movements and help them reach their true potential. I am sure that Mona will still be at the table with us enjoying our food and wine and discussing and strategizing the best way towards a brighter and happier future for all.
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In the photo here, Susan and I are getting into the holiday spirit. Meet Ichi, who is probably dreaming of sardines (his favorite food).
Susan and I would like to thank our families, friends and all of life’s challenges.
We would also like to thank those of you for your continued support of us and SHI. It is through you that we are able to continue the growth of sharing and advancing health.
We wish you all the best of health, happiness and prosperity in the coming year!
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I’ve recently received this story from a woman, Sheron, in response to my previous entry about T. Colin Campbell and her take on The Great Life Diet. Thank you, Sheron! She writes:
“There is nothing better than the balance of a Macrobiotic diet and lifestyle. I am committed to following Macrobiotics for the rest of my life even if I have to spend every minute of it in the kitchen. And, the most helpful book to come along in a long time is your The Great Life Diet. […] So, I do agree with you that The China Study has the supportive nutritional facts, and you have the way to put it all together. You seem to have a way of expressing the facts of a balanced diet and lifestyle in an uncomplicated way. Of all the teachers I studied with, and those whose books I have read, your understanding and presentation of Macrobiotics is the one that I can easily understand and apply.”
I am glad hearing six years after its publication that The Great Life Diet still applies to people’s lives today, despite how quickly popular opinion seems to change regarding eating. My intention in writing the book was to offer timeless, practical and accessible advice to those seeking diet and lifestyle guidance in a way that most other diet and lifestyle books cannot offer. It is now a time when the principles set forth in The Great Life Diet can come into more scientific consideration.
I’m just going to share some simple things with you in certain circumstances to help you get started on issues related to health and diet.
For those of you who are not going to change your diet, but have interest in improving overall health, consider:
1. Taking Time For Meals. Pause the activities of the day when you sit down to food.
2. Take Meals At the Same Time Everyday, Especially Lunch(which should begin no later than 1p.m.)
3.Get At Least a ½ Hour Of Activity Everyday(something as simple as walking suffices)
And for those of you just beginning the transition to a macrobiotic diet, here are two things that help to do immediately:
1. Plan Meals Around a Grain and a Vegetable
2. Start Eating Soup
I would like to thank Sheron again for offering such a heartfelt and honest response to my query regarding The China Study and its potential to provide the impetus to empirically explore the wisdom I have been sharing.
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American society has a general notion that we are neither in control of our genes nor the environmental factors which cause disease. Under this assumption, many may be throwing up their hands and wondering: What’s the use of trying to prevent disease when it is inevitable?
A current medical assumption is that early detection of a disease in fact prevents disease from killing us. But does it? Unfortunately, this approach in western medicine does not save lives. In my experience, it merely prolongs life of lower quality. A nutritional biochemist, who I both admire and follow, by the name of T. Colin Campbell authored The China Study in 2005, explicating discoveries that could alter our way of life.
Two points(there are many!) contained in the book are ones I would like to relay to you most as they give evidence contrary to the current American diet and furthermore provide scientific support for the practice of a macrobiotic way of eating.
1. Diet can cause, or reverse, the majority of contemporary degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Epigenetics is the study of genetic expression, that is the study of mechanisms outside of our DNA that can cause a particular gene to express itself. The genetic propensity an individual has for a particular disease can, on a chemical level, be “turned on” or “kept off”. How can we control the expression of our genes?
Hopefully, you guessed that we have an enormous amount of personal control with our diets. The China Study proposes that although cancer is a result of many things, including toxic external environmental influences, the cancer gene that we may have in our DNA is likely to be “turned on” as a result of what we eat.
T. Colin Campbell made this discovery through experiments involving rats and the dairy protein casein, concluding that it was a very prevalent and potent carcinogen in our society. When animal and dairy protein comprises 10% or more of our diets, our genetic markers for cancer activate. When our intake of those proteins falls below 10%, those same markers deactivate.
2. Eating whole foods facilitates the absorption of nutrients, not isolated dietary supplements.
Mr. Campbell’s research shows that while taking a dietary supplement may have an unpredictable effect, a whole food works within the body to foster a better environment in which to absorb nutrients. In the book, he uses a case involving beta-carotene and Vitamin A in relation to lung cancer. It was discovered previously that people with higher levels of these nutrients in their blood were less likely to develop lung cancer, even if they were smokers. The results of a controlled experiment involving supplements with these nutrients shocked many.
Those taking the supplements actually developed lung cancer at a higher rate. This is because we cannot assume to know how the body will take in and distribute nutrients because the body takes care of itself in a healthy digestive system. The conclusion was that when integrating particular vitamins and minerals into one’s diet, a whole food(an example being a vegetable or whole grain) must be eaten to ensure the healthy, balanced absorption of nutrients.
A conclusion of The China Study is to transition to a whole food, plant-based diet. It is rare to see mainstream nutritional research promote such healthy habits. T. Colin Campbell’s contribution to the evidence of the efficacy and healthiness of a plant based diet gives so much credence to macrobiotics. Whereas science and research can offer proof or conclude something, there isn’t much in the book guiding people or offering methods of how to switch or change diet and lifestyle.
I find it is here where his research and my life work complement each other. If I can’t provide the evidence on why our current diet standards are so imbalanced and unhealthy, The China Study does. And if The China Study does not offer suggestions or guidance to a reader about eating healthy or practicing a healthy lifestyle, I can.
As contemporary society, we have a lot to be thankful for and a lot that we have inherited, both culturally and genetically. We have the developments and technologies of modern science that has greatly informed and changed our methods of observing the world around us. We also have a cultural history that spans at least 10,000 years around the globe, which also includes a vast knowledge and history of practicing health, mindfulness and awareness. It behooves me in my own practice to honor the insights given to us by the past as well as to integrate and utilize the techniques that technology offers to insure our health for both today and future generations.
I am interested in hearing your opinions and responses on this topic.
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I’ve written two blogs about breast cancer, both describing what things to do in order to greatly decrease your risk of developing it. In Shining Light on Breast Cancer Prevention, I explained what lifestyle habits to practice, and in Pertinent Info. about your Health and Breast Cancer, I correlated the spiritual, emotional, and physical factors that contribute to the start of breast cancer. Today I am giving you the Top 5 Risk Factors in conclusion. Now you have more concrete tools in working towards avoiding breast cancer:
Top Five Risk Factors:
1) Irregular Menstruation & Constipation or Irregular Bowel Movements
Most women with breast cancer have either or both of these issues. When the body cannot eliminate excess and detoxify through the kidneys, intestines or reproductive organs, this accumulation may try to eliminate through the lungs or breast. This can set the stage for the development of cancer. Cancer can be developed through deficiency as well as excess. To be safe from breast cancer, keep your cycles in your ovaries and bowels on a healthy schedule.
2) Eating Dairy Foods (especially with refined sugar)
Eating diary, and I’m emphasizing yogurt because I see that many people overeat yogurt. According to Colin Campbell, casein, which is dairy protein, is one of the most potent carcinogens on the planet.
3) Excessive Emotions
The heart chakra regulates energy metabolism and circulation in the chest region. Excessive emotion creates a pathway for inflammation. This inflammation can be manifested in the development of cancer.
4) Lack of Emotional Expression
Since the heart chakra regulates energy, when someone shuts down due to grief, loss, and depression allows stagnation to build up in the area. A person cannot express how they feel, therefore they cannot renew the energy locked up in their chest region.
5) Not walking outside regularly
Walking helps because it settles strengthens digestion, calms the nervous system and rebalances the body on many levels.
If you show signs of these risks factors and harbor deep concern about developing breast cancer, I can help. Please set up a consultation with me so that I can show you how to dampen your fear of this disease.
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Photo Credits to my vibrant wife: Susan Waxman.
Again, we appreciate the chance to meet and work with all of you this past month. Please keep in touch and we hope to see you soon at SHI.
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Susan and I just returned from a trip to San Diego and Seattle. It was my first time in both cities. People have told me that San Diego has a similar relationship to LA as Philadelphia to New York. I was totally able to relate to this analogy, well except for the beaches and weather of course.
In San Diego we got a chance to visit and stay with our two daughters who live there, Natasha and Madeline and our future son-in-law Ivan. That was actually our inspiration for planning our first West coast teaching and counseling tour in years. We had a number of meals and held our classes and counseling at the San Diego Casa de Luz, a macrobiotic restaurant and educational center. We had been to the original Casa de Luz in Austin in the past and it was fun to see their expansion. A big THANK YOU! goes to Kathy Swasey for her generosity, kindness, and friendship in helping Susan and me. The trip would not have been the success it was without you.
We also had a chance meet and renew some friendships. Gordon Saxe, M.D. is a long-time friend from Baltimore originally. He heads an Integrative Medical Center at UCSD. They have great plans for spreading macrobiotic education and practice. Gordon’s project is truly groundbreaking. As far as I know it is the only hospital based Integrative Medical center based on macrobiotic principles. I was very happy to learn from Gordon the effect that I and macrobiotics had on his medical career. It was also good to reminisce about the Mid-Atlantic Summer Camp that ended in the mid eighty’s.
We also had a chance to meet with Jean Richardson, the owner of Gold Mine Natural Foods. It was great to see that she and her business are doing well. Jean also sponsored nine of her employees to attend my lectures and Susan cooking classes. It was rewarding to see a business owner sponsor macrobiotic education for her employees. Jennie, Jean’s daughter assisted Susan in her cooking class and took extensive photos.
Our next stop was Seattle, a truly beautiful city. We were totally inspired by the natural beauty within and around Seattle. They told us not to tell anyone that we didn’t see a drop of rain while we were there. I came back with a tan! We were sponsored by our good friends Sophie and Pavel Dolezel in three lectures, two cooking classes, and a packed counseling schedule. We also had a chance to reconnect with some old friends.
This was an amazing trip for us to see new cities, make many new friends, and to spread our open and adaptable style of macrobiotic practice. I am excited to see many new people at our seminars at the Strengthening Health Institute.
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In my last post, I was trying to help others understand about Macrobiotics and disease. The recent news of Angelina Jolie’s preventive double mastectomy concerned me because women look to her and could repeat this procedure. I hope that someday everyone can understand that there is another way to prevent disease, especially breast cancer. I see illness as direction, rather than a static state. Diet and lifestyle lead us towards health or sickness, and as we can see, the modern diet and lifestyle together lead the majority of our population towards sickness. Breast cancer is becoming an epidemic and effecting younger and younger women, and the same is true for diabetes. I believe the answer is our open and flexible approach to Macrobiotics, as a lifestyle, not just a dietary change.
Most people who develop serious illness have already made an attempt to improve their diet and lifestyle, which makes it even more shocking that they end up with disease. I often have the opposite opinion as the mainstream on how behaviors and food contribute to health, and how to prevent problems. Just about all cancer relates to our diet. Cancer may lie in our DNA, but it will not activate or express itself unless we tell it to with our diet and lifestyle. We have the power to increase health IF we know what to do.
Breast cancer is another result of deteriorating health. From my research and experience, I have listed below what factors contribute to illness in the breast.
Irregular menstruation and digestive issues including irregular bowels, indigestion, constipation, and irregular periods. When we have a healthy hormonal balance, we will eliminate effectively through urination and our bowel movements, and women through menstruation. In oriental medicine, our body is seen as complimentary systems. The intestines are complimentary to the lungs (and the breasts). This is the connection between bowel health and breast cancer. Making sure that these two systems eliminate excess promotes a positive direction for breast health.
Emotional and Spiritual Factors:
The heart chakra is our center of emotion. We give and receive feelings from a passionate center in our chest. Too much passion can be dangerous as well as the lack of emotion and the inability to create expression. Both can create stagnation and difficulty connecting to emotions. Many people, especially women, perform their lives under high stress because they do not live a lifestyle that allows for healthy limits of passion. When we operate on stress, we move in the direction of disease, which can manifest in our body as breast cancer. When I think about this spiritually, I think of breast cancer as a disease of excess located in the fourth chakra. Since this is our center of passion, I don’t find it difficult to draw the connection that most of my breast cancer clients tend to over nurture others.
OK- What can we do about it?
Regular meals are crucial to maintain regularity in the body. Try to sit down and eat at regular times. Please stop what you’re doing to allow space for self-reflection. Eating can help us to readjust our minds in the same way that meditation allows us to create space and become more open. Also of immense importance: WALK OUTSIDE. It settles the energy down, balancing both sides of our body, and creating healing vibration through the reproductive and digestive organs. Spiritually, a steady and comfortable walk allows us to eliminate any energy imbalance we harbor inside.
Other tips: Try rolling a ball on the bottom of your foot and walking barefoot through the grass. If you can, take a stroll at the edge of the ocean just where the sand and ocean meet. These habits further allow us to settle our energy down and eliminate what we don’t use.
*Please remember that if you do the right things for health, your body will naturally respond with health. This is where a practical understanding of diet, lifestyle, and health becomes important. Regular meals and walking needs to be an active member is your team of healthcare modalities.