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

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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.

 

 

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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
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“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

Wishing You…

Posted on by Denny Waxman

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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Portrait of the Spreading of Joy & Health in 2014

Posted on by Denny Waxman
SHI-CCP Graduating Class 2013

SHI-CCP Graduating Class 2013

The portrait of health has been painted over and over again. People say that in order to look like the portrait that’s painted, you need to follow sets of procedures in order to be healthy and happy. You are probably familiar with those procedures: Eat well in this way, exercise in this way.

Achieving health shouldn’t seem full of obstacles. As we draw near to the holidays, here are five gentle, joyous reminders of health and encouragement for spreading the spirit of joy and health into and through the New Year.

 

Spiritual Health Guides Mental, Emotional and Physical Health.

Spiritual health, the cultivation of endless appreciation for all of life, leads to mental, emotional, and physical health. When we are positive, open and curious for everything around us, our vitality shines. Health starts with a spiritual revolution that leads to changes in our daily habits and attitudes. Physical training alone does not lead to mental, emotional, or spiritual development and refinement. So the process does not work in reverse.

 

Self-love and Self-care are of prime importance. The more you do and care for yourself, the more it spreads to others.

Care in our dietary choices and daily habits helps build a healthy community where we live. As we take care of ourselves, there is no separation from taking care of others at the same time. It can largely be said that our current mindset is one of self-interest that overlooks the needs of others in order to get what we want.  This also has broader, global implications for the health of the planet, the just treatment of all others, and our relationship to our communities. If we are caring for ourselves with spiritual health in our minds and hearts, the opposite begins to happen; we form healthier communities, we strengthen bonds, we nurture the environment and people in ways we may not even see.

 

Health is natural.

When nature is left alone to flourish and grow in its regular state, we see the abundance, diversity and beauty that results. This is a reflection of our natural state as well. Think of a healthy baby which is “unspoiled” or in a natural human state. We can’t help but be drawn to these children and share with them this joy as we remember and invoke our own natural states.

Consequently, it’s obvious to notice that health is more natural than sickness. It takes about 10% to 15% of the time to return to health as it did to become sick. Even if we have spent a lifetime abusing our body and getting sick, our health starts to return quickly from dietary and lifestyle adjustments.

 

Health is a direction not a fixed state.

Health is not a static condition. It develops though our daily habits. Sickness is the same. The combination of a good diet and eating habits, activity and lifestyle practices over time move us towards health. We all have the ability to improve our health on all levels day by day through these lifestyle choices. And since it is a direction, no matter where we are towards health or sickness, we always have the opportunity to move towards health, no matter the circumstances.

 

To create these changes, two things must happen.

We need more healthy friends. These changes become useful and habitual the more we share and practice them. Surrounding yourself around more people enjoying a healthy lifestyle is key. Change will only come when you use your voice and express yourself about what you are doing, experiencing and enjoying.

 

Remember that health craves health in every sense.  This holiday, share your health with as many people as you can. Celebrate!

2 Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Mental Health, Weight

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

Posted on by Denny Waxman
Earth as Viewed from Apollo 17

Earth as Viewed from Apollo 17

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

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

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

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

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

 

No Comments | Tags: Articles and Research

An Unobstructed, Natural Flow of Emotion

Posted on by Denny Waxman

A few weeks ago, I posted about a guiding image of health I refer to when considering a healthy body and mind and I touched lightly on emotions. In this post, I’d like to talk a bit more about how emotions are inseparable from our health.

A Sunset Sail in Key West

A Sunset Sail in Key West

 

Emotions specifically depend on liquids. Without liquid, we would have no emotion. Culturally, we can imagine it as: when are we more emotional? When do we visit bodies of water, and for what reasons? How does our language express the observation of emotions in others? What kinds of liquids do we use and for which purposes for expressing which emotions? Though these are all interesting questions to ask; I’ll follow up with some answers, as quickly as I can.

People tend to be more emotional during the full moon. People will contemplate beside a lake, follow the path of a stream to explore, bring a loved one or a friend to the bank of a river to watch it flow, or to intake the power of the ocean. When we talk about emotions, we can refer to an overly sentimental person as sappy, or wishy-washy and in the other extreme barren or dry. It is interesting that we drink beer at sporting events, wine for intimate evenings, tea or water to relax or calm down. Liquid carries these drinks into our bodies and the character of each one brings about different emotional states.

Water itself permeates every aspect of life, and the human body and the planet itself is composed mostly of water. Water is associated with the unconscious and is included in all types of ritual- be it something as simple as a celebration at a sporting event or a spiritual ceremony.  There are ponds and lakes–places where water gathers. And there are streams, rivers and oceans, which are places where water moves. This brings me back to the vision, or image, of health and the mountain stream’s emotional complement: healthy flow.

There are natural and healthy emotions.  Like a mountain stream in equilibrium, we associate streams with tranquility, curiosity, joy. This is our natural emotional state. Our natural emotions, when consistent, encourage a healthy flow in our body and mind together.  In an unnatural state, there is disruption. I am saying that emotions are not positive or negative, but that the state of our emotions is either natural and healthy, or disrupted.  In disrupted, unhealthy states, our liquid is either stagnant or surging.  Stagnancy, or lack of movement, can be expressed as desensitization, depression or numbness. And surges, which seem like “boiling over”, can be expressed as aggression or hysteria.

Emotions also depend upon temperature. Emotion expresses itself when liquid comes to the surface of the body and evaporates. This partially explains how people living in or visiting hotter climates express emotions more readily than in colder climates where we may need to be “warmed up” first. The use of more fire in cooking raises our temperature. Outdoor cooking, such as barbecue, brings out a lot of emotion. Other ways of raising our temperature is in the use spices, stimulants, and alcohol. The opposite, cold, interferes with our ability to express emotions smoothly. Cold affects our bodies through ice, out-of-climate foods and chemicals (especially artificial sweeteners). Extremes of both hot and cold have disruptive effects on our emotions and in turn, our physical and mental health.

It follows then that the state of our emotional health has the capacity to affect the course of our overall health, either in a more natural and healthy flow or into more disrupted and unhealthy flow. Because health craves health, a flowing and joyous emotional state helps us flow with healthy habits. This season is a perfect time while in the company of family or friends to return to our natural state of tranquility, curiosity, and joy.

 

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotic Philosophy, Mental Health