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

Ben Franklin, Creativity and Macrobiotics

Posted on by Denny Waxman

What good shall I do today?

Order and structure fosters health, vitality, and creativity. We can see from the recent Huffington Post article that various types of creative geniuses across cultures had specific routines for mealtimes, sleep, and work. Could it be that the structure of their lives was the key to their creativity?

Ben Franklin’s routine stood out the most for me because his meal and sleeping times closely parallels the schedule that I encourage in my book and seminars. The article does not go into the details of their diets, but Ben Franklin talks about his dietary habits in his autobiography. He became a vegetarian at the age of 16 and returned to his vegetarian practice throughout his life. He believed that grains promoted health and vitality. I also learned today that he was the first American to introduce tofu (tau-fu) to the Colonies by sending soybeans to John Bartram in Philadelphia in 1770.

Ben Franklin's Daily Schedule

Ben Franklin’s Daily Schedule

 

Creativity comes from nature. There is nothing more amazingly and wildly creative than nature itself. Our real creativity comes from aligning ourselves with nature, both with our food and daily schedule. Our approach to macrobiotic practice which encourages having a daily schedule may seem restrictive, but all of these creative people had one thing in common: a regular, daily schedule. We can see from Ben Franklin’s example that macrobiotic practice helps us get in touch with the creative spirit of nature.

 

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotic Philosophy

Setting One Record Straight

Posted on by Denny Waxman

glass-of-water

An elderly client of mine who is having some issues recently received this e-mail from a well-meaning friend. I would like to comment on this misleading and potentially harmful advice. Below is a snippet from the e-mail:

“HEART ATTACKS AND WATER!

How many folks do you know who say they don’t want to drink anything before going to bed because they’ll have to get up during the night.

Heart Attack and Water – I never knew all of this ! Interesting…….

Something else I didn’t know … I asked my Doctor why people need to urinate so much at night time. Answer from my Cardiac Doctor – Gravity holds water in the lower part of your body when you are upright (legs swell). When you lie down and the lower body (legs and etc) seeks level with the kidneys, it is then that the kidneys remove the water because it is easier. This then ties in with the last statement!

I knew you need your minimum water to help flush the toxins out of your body, but this was news to me. Correct time to drink water…

Very Important. From A Cardiac Specialist!

Drinking water at a certain time maximizes its effectiveness on the body

2 glasses of water after waking up – helps activate internal organs

1 glass of water 30 minutes before a meal – helps digestion

1 glass of water before taking a bath – helps lower blood pressure

1 glass of water before going to bed – avoids stroke or heart attack

I can also add to this… My Physician told me that water at bed time will also help prevent night time leg cramps. Your leg muscles are seeking hydration when they cramp and wake you up with a Charlie Horse.”

 

According to Oriental medicine, different systems of the body are more active and adjust at certain times of the day to return to balance. The stomach and pancreas are most active after lunchtime. Our ideal lunchtime begins between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The stomach and pancreas become more active between 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sleepiness after lunch indicates either that our digestion is weak or we’re experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

 

The kidneys and bladder are active between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. and when we are in a horizontal position. The kidneys filter toxins from our blood and regulate our water and mineral balance while we sleep. We eliminate these toxins after we rise in the morning. As we age, we tend to become more dry and lose some of our natural flexibility. The lack of flexibility in the kidneys, bladder, and prostate (in a man’s case) causes us to wake up to urinate. The modern diet full of meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, and baked goods intensifies rigidity, as do iced drinks.

 

The most important source of water is in our food.  Water in food helps flexibility. Our bodies absorb water within food more effectively through digestion. Healthy foods such as cooked grains, beans, vegetables, salads, and fruits have a naturally high water content. A variety of these foods creates a healthy balance of minerals that helps avoid cramping at night. Compare the difference in water between a chip, a dry cereal, or a cracker with that of a boiled grain. Dry foods make it difficult to absorb water effectively, much like what happens when a potted plant dries out and is then watered. Furthermore, excess water interferes with deep, refreshing sleep. We ideally use drinks and fluids for our enjoyment and to satisfy thirst.

5 Comments | Tags: Macrobiotics

Cravings, A Search For Balance

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I’d like to offer a physiological perspective on cravings and how to work with them. Cravings are a way our body communicates with us. They are a way we seek balance and align with nature. For example, warm, dry weather makes us thirsty.

There are two main types of cravings.

1)  Intense cravings. Unsatisfied intense cravings tend to disappear. These cravings often signify that we are eliminating that type of food from our body and we intensely crave it as it leaves. The best thing to do with these cravings is to take attention away from them and place our focus elsewhere. These cravings usually disappear quickly. If it is something our body needs, these cravings will persist.

 

2)  The other type of craving is that of a persistent or recurring craving, usually caused by an actual need. These are more complicated and try handling them in the following way.

         -You like chocolate, but you decide you don’t want to eat it anymore and so you cut it out.

        -Then, you crave chocolate.

        -Take a moment to consider what it is about the chocolate that you crave.

         -Chocolate is essentially concentrated fats and sweets.

        -You may just be craving more high-quality rich and sweet food in your diet.

        -Or your diet may be too simple.

During a chocolate craving, try substituting walnuts and raisins or make a dessert with tahini or a nut-butter and natural sweeteners. They will probably satisfy the craving and are healthier choices.

 

The best way to handle consistent cravings is to break the specific craving down into its components (taste and consistency) and then make a choice with healthier options.

 

Two Dynamics of Cravings

1)  Yin Yang. Sweet cravings (yin cravings), for many, are a result of eating too much animal foods, cheese, baked or toasted and salty foods (yang foods). Reducing or eliminating heavy yang foods will diminish much of the sweet craving.

2)  Crunchy foods create cravings for more crunchy foods. Sweets create cravings for sweets, caffeine for caffeine. Imbalances perpetuate themselves and it seems difficult recognizing this pattern. Fortunately though, balances also perpetuate themselves. Moving towards balance is the most effective way to overcome cravings.

 

Some Substitutions for Common Cravings

1) Crunchy

         -Add a healthy, crunchy food, such as blanched vegetables or carrot sticks

2) Poor-Quality Sweets

         -Add more grain and vegetable, quality sweets such as corn on the cob (naturally sweet) or cooked onions, carrots, squash or sweet potatoes (which become sweet with cooking). Pureed, sweet vegetable soups are even more satisfying. Rice syrup and barley malt are more natural sweeteners.

3) Fatty Foods

         -Use high-quality, unrefined sesame and olive oil (coconut oil is better suited for a tropical climate) in cooking and salads

4) Animal Proteins

         -Tofu, tempeh or seitan and other plant-based protein, matching the consistency and taste of the particular craving. For example, tempeh often satisfies chicken and cheese cravings.

 

Pregnancy Cravings

A baby begins to make demands and choices from the very beginning. Many women know they’re pregnant just from cravings. Babies first choose from the mother’s blood. If it is not present in her blood, they seek it out in her constitution (teeth, hair, bones). If what the baby seeks is not there either, babies call for take-out, which is a pregnancy craving.

 

My entire approach is not on avoiding cravings, but to help create a healthy, natural pattern of balance.

Chocolate, anyone?

4 Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet

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

Mona Schwartz Memorial

Posted on by Denny Waxman

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.

 

Mona and I in the '70s.

Mona and me in the ’70s.

 

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 Schwartz

 

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.

Mona at my 60th birthday party

Mona at my 60th birthday party

16 Comments | Tags: Uncategorized

Photo Tour of L.A.

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Susan and I just returned from a week in Santa Monica and Venice Beach to do some counseling and be with family. We spent our time going to all of the macrobiotic restaurants and other neat venues, but we never got a chance to contact all of our L.A. friends! Next time. In the meantime, enjoy some of the sights seen.

Starting the day off with a morning walk in Venice Beach.

Starting the day off with a morning walk in Venice Beach.

At Matador Beach. The week we visited was unusually chilly. It also began to warm as we left. Perhaps we brought some of the East Coast with us.

At El Matador Beach. The week we visited was unusually chilly. It also began to warm as we left. Perhaps we brought some of the East Coast with us.

A stunning slope of rocks, shrubs, and sky on El Matador Beach.

A stunning slope of rocks, shrubs, and sky on El Matador Beach.

The Ghandi Memorial at the Lake Shrine Meditation Gardens.

The Ghandi Memorial at the Lake Shrine Meditation Gardens

Lake Shrine at the Yogananda Retreat. A very peaceful space.
This body of water is fed by a natural spring. A very peaceful space.

Meditation Garden at the Yogananda Retreat.

Waiting happily for lunch

Declaration of macrobiotics at M Cafe

IMG_2061

At Inaka in La Brea, Los Angeles

At Inaka in La Brea, Los Angeles

A different iteration of macrobiotics, courtesy of Inaka.

A different iteration of macrobiotics, courtesy of Inaka.

Enjoyment. I enjoyed going to the different establishments and seeing their declarations. Though not pictured here, we also visited the Seed Cafe and Real Food Daily.

Enjoyment. I enjoyed going to the different establishments and seeing their declarations. Though not pictured here, we also visited the Seed Cafe and Real Food Daily.

On Santa Monica Beach with Susan and my daughter, Natasha. It was windy and chilly, but she is not concerned.

On Santa Monica Beach with Susan and my daughter, Natasha. It was windy and chilly, but she is not concerned.

 

 

No Comments | Tags: Events

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

A Second New Year; Get Ready for Spring!

Posted on by Denny Waxman

If you didn’t get a chance to make your resolutions stick since January 1st, you have another chance! And this new year also follows the course of nature. This new year, February 4th, is celebrated in Asia and traces of its western roots are in the celebration of Groundhog’s Day. Groundhog’s Day is a token reminder that Spring is coming, and is related to the Gaelic day of St. Brighid. This is the time of the year we get Spring fever, where we begin to yearn more strongly for warmer weather and the outdoors.

This is because nature’s energy begins to rise, causing us to shed the heaviness we have accumulated during the winter. The height of winter also happens to be the beginning of spring. A prime example of this is that the sap in trees begins to run again. We are actually moving into the time and feelings of spring.

The new year brings change and opportunities, and we can align ourselves with this new and changing energy by incorporating lighter things into our diets. Start to cook less, bake less and start to increase lightly cooked dishes and salads. It’s especially important to be cautious about introducing strong sweets and cold foods until warmer weather stabilizes. For example, baked squash and beans are great winter dishes whereas iced coffee and ice cream are best suited for the warm summer weather when we’d like to cool ourselves.

Now is a good time to observe how we can adjust our diet and activity to align with nature’s rising and warming energy.

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Events