Cabbage, a traditional staple in Europe and Asia, is valued for its mild, crisp texture and natural sweet taste. Its balanced energy are particularly good for the pancreas, spleen, and stomach. As an external remedy, cabbage leaves will reduce fever, neutralize inflammation, or relieve burns and bruises.
• Chlorophyll Plaster - In his book on home remedies, educator Michio Kushi explains the traditional use of cabbage and other green leafy vegetables to prepare a Chlorophyll Plaster to help relieve inflammations, fever, and burns.
Source: Michio Kushi, Basic Home Remedies (Becket, MA: One Peaceful World Press, 1994).
• Cabbage and Other Brassica Vegetables Protect Against Cancer - Brassica vegetables, including cabbage, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, are protective against cancer, according to a review of seven cohort and 87 case-control studies. Researchers in the Netherlands reported that cabbage had the strongest anticancer effect of all the brassica vegetables. Protective effects were strongest for lung, stomach, colon, and rectal cancer.
Source: D. T. Verhoeven et al., “Epidemiological Studies on Brassica Vegetables and Cancer Risk,” Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention 5(9):733-48, 1996.
Caffeine, the active ingredient in coffee, tea, soft drinks, cocoa, chocolate, and 2000 nonprescription drugs, is the world’s most consumed drug. Eighty percent of adults in the U.S. consume it daily in one form or another. Globally, tea is the world’s most popular beverage, followed by coffee and soft drinks. One cup of tea contains about half as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. A 12-ounce can of Coke or Pepsi contains about as much caffeine as a cup of tea or half a cup of coffee. See Coffee, Infectious Disease, Tea.
• Multiple Effects of Caffeine - Caffeine is not a direct stimulant, reports health researcher Stephen Braun. “Instead, it works indirectly by interfering with one of the brain’s main chemical ‘brakes.’ Like a car with a sticky brake pedal, the brain speeds up because it can’t slow down.”
Metabolically, it takes the liver about 5 hours to break down half a given amount of caffeine. Absorbed quickly in the intestine, caffeine crosses all cell membranes and is rapidly diffused into the saliva, semen, breast milk, and amniotic fluid. Caffeine revs up the brain, stimulating mental focus, productivity, and physical performance.
However, in large amounts, caffeine produces the opposite effect, inhibiting neuron firing and acting as a depressant. Caffeine causes the heart to beat more rapidly, constricts some blood vessels and dilates others, and stimulates some muscles to contract and others to expand. Caffeine can curb the appetite, cause weight loss, and serve as a laxative. It increases urine production and can stress the kidneys.
While caffeine releases fat stored in cells, “caffeine may actually make it harder to eat a balanced, healthy diet.” In medical studies, it is associated with increased binge eating, premenstrual syndrome, and possible birth defects and impaired development of children.
Decaf, meanwhile, is weakly linked with raising cholesterol, and the solvent processing method, using strong chemicals like methylene chloride or ethyl acetate, may pose risks, though it has been approved by the FDA.
Habitual coffee drinkers commonly suffer from withdrawal symptoms, including tiredness, irritability, and grogginess in the morning before they have their first cup of coffee. Caffeine dependence, withdrawal, and addiction were not recognized until recently.
In writing his book, Braun concludes that he has become more conscious of caffeine’s strong, potentially harmful effects. While he still drinks coffee, he is more mindful and takes periodic “caffeine holidays” of one or two weeks at a time.
Source: Stephen Braun, Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).
Calcium is a major mineral constituent of teeth and bones. In addition to dairy products, green leafy vegetables such as collards, kale, and turnip greens, as well as beans, sea vegetables, seeds and nuts, and other plant quality foods are high in this mineral. Current medical research suggests that calcium from animal sources is processed differently in the body than that from plant sources. The relation between dietary calcium and the calcium in bones appears to be the result of many synergetic factors, so that simply taking in more calcium, especially from dairy products and calcium supplements, may not strengthen the skeletal structure and, in fact, may weaken it. See Dental Health, Kale, Osteoporosis, Protein, Vitamin D.
• Calcium Intake Unrelated to Bone Development - Calcium intake is not linked to strong bones, according to British researchers. In a study of mothers in England and Gambia, scientists found that the Africans, who ate a diet low in calcium and had as many as ten babies and breast-fed each one, had comparable bone masses as English mothers who ate a high calcium diet and had had on average two children and breast-fed them little or not at all. The researchers found that the En-glish women on a high-calcium diet, from dairy foods, were more likely to get osteoporosis later in life than the Gambians. Calcium supplements proved useless in boosting the bone mass of women of childbearing age.
Source: T. J. Aspray et al., “Low Bone Mineral Content Is Common But Osteoporotic Fractures Are Rare in Elderly Rural Gambian Women,” Journal of Bone Mineral Research 11(7):1019-25, 1996.
The word “cancer” comes from the Greek term karkinos, which means crab. Hippocrates, who first applied it to medicine, evidently likened tumors to the crablike properties or spread of the disease. He taught a dietary approach to cancer, and through the ages there have been many reported recoveries using natural means.
In the modern era, health reformers have linked cancer with diet since the early 1800s. Modern medicine, however, generally ignored this relationship until the 1970s. One of the 20th century pioneers in nutritional research was Dr. Albert Tannebaum, director of the department of cancer research at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. In an address before the American Association for the Advancement of Science on August 4, 1944, he stated: “At the present time there is widespread interest in the relationship of nutrition to tumors . . . It is likely that a natural diet contains a more adequate quality, quantity, and balance of essential components than our present day synthetic diets. Nutritionists are beginning to believe that synthetic diets may give effects quite different from natural diets. Fundamentally, it is the natural diet that is of interest in human nutrition and disease.”
See Brain Tumors, Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer, Leukemia, Lung Cancer, Lymphoma, Pancreatic Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Stomach Cancer.
See American Cancer Society, Carotenoids, Carrots, Chewing, Ginger, Green Tea, Hiziki, Immune Function, Japanese Diet, Lentils, Macrobiotics, Microwave, Millet, Miso, Natto, Phytochemicals, Phytoestrogens, Rice, Sea Vegetables, Shiitake, Soy Foods, Sugar, Tempeh, Vegetables, Vegetarians, War-Restricted Diet, Water, Whole Grains, World Health Organization.
• Protective Mechanisms of Plant-Quality Foods - In a review of the epidemiological data, including both cohort and case-control studies, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle reported that plant-quality foods have preventive potential at all cancer sites and that consumption of the following groups and types of vegetables and fruits is lower in those who subsequently develop cancer: raw and fresh vegetables, leafy green vegetables, Cruciferous vegetables, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, and raw and fresh fruit, including citrus fruit and tomatoes.
Foods high in phytoestrogens, particularly soybean foods (high in isoflavones) or grains and fibrous vegetables high in precursor compounds that can be metabolized by bacteria in the intestines into active agents are associated with a lower risk of sex-hormone-related cancers.
Biologically, plant foods may slow or prevent the appearance of cancer because of anticarcinogenic substances including: carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, dietary fiber (and its components), dithiolthiones, isothiocyanates, indoles, phenols, protease inhibitors, allium compounds, plant sterols, and limonene.
“At almost every one of the stages of the cancer process, identified phytochemicals are known to be able to alter the likelihood of carcinogenesis,” the researchers concluded. “For example, glucosinolates and indoles, thiocyanates and isothiocyanates, phenols, and coumarins can induce a multiplicity of phase II (solubilizing and usually inactivating) enzymes; ascorbate and phenols block the formation of carcinogens such as nitrosamines; flavonoids and carotenoids act as antioxidants, essentially disabling the carcin-ogenic potential of specific compounds; lipid-soluble compounds such as carotenoids and sterols may alter membrane structure or integrity; some sulphur-containing compounds suppress DNA and protein synthesis; carotenoids can suppress DNA synthesis and enhance differentiation; and phytoestrogens compete with estradiol for estrogen receptors in a way that is generally antiproliferative.”
“Consumption of diets low in plant foods results in a reduced intake of a wide variety of those substances that can plausibly lower cancer risk,” the researchers concluded. “In the presence of a diet and lifestyle high in potential carcinogens (whether derived from fungal contamination, cooking, or tobacco) or high in promoters (such as salt and alcohol), overall risk of cancer at many epithelial sites is elevated. Plant foods appear to exert a general risk-lowering effect; the patterns of exposure to cancer initiators and promoters and of genetic susceptibility may determine the variations in the site-specific risks of cancer seen across populations.”
Source: J. D. Potter et al., “Vegetables, Fruit, and Phytoestrogens as Preventive Agents,” IARC Science Publications 139:61-90, 1996.
• The Cancer Prevention Diet - In The Cancer-Prevention Diet, Michio Kushi introduces the macrobiotic approach to cancer, including complete dietary and way of life guidelines for 25 major types of malignancies. The book includes summaries of hundreds of nutritionally oriented medical studies, including many dietary observations from the Renaissance through the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as contemporary recovery stories.
“From the macrobiotic view, cancer is the final stage in a sequence of events in an illness through which individuals in the modern world tend to pass because they fail to appreciate the beneficial nature of disease symptoms. A healthy organism can deal with a limited amount of excess nutrients or toxic materials taken in the form of daily food. This imbalance can be naturally eliminated through daily activity, sweating, urination, bowel movement, or other means. However, if the person continues to overconsume, the body begins to fall back upon abnormal measures for elimination including colds, fever, coughing, skin disease, and other symptoms. From the macrobiotic perspective, such sickness is a natural adjustment, the result of the wisdom of the body trying to keep us in natural balance.
“However, in modern society these symptoms are generally suppressed or controlled with drugs, surgery, and other methods which separate people from the natural workings of their own bodies. If minor ailments are treated in this symptomatic way with no adjustment in what we eat, the excess held in the body eventually begins to accumulate in the form of fatty-acid deposits and chronically troublesome mucus, and manifests in vaginal discharges, breast or ovarian cysts, kidney stones, or other worrisome conditions. In this state, the body is still able to localize the excess and toxins consumed. By gathering the unwanted material in local areas, the rest of the body is maintained in a relatively clean and smooth functioning condition. From the macrobiotic view, the process of localization is part of our natural healing power, saving us from complete break-down. In contrast, the modern view looks on those localizations as invasive enemies that have to be destroyed and removed.
“As long as excess continues to accumulate and exceeds the body's normal or abnormal discharge ability, it must be stored somewhere. These storage depots gradually grow and become tumors, and when they are filled they spread and overflow into new areas, or what are called metastases.
“As long as we continue to take in excessive nutrients, chemicals, and other factors that serve no purpose in the body, they must continue to accumulate somewhere in order to continue our normal living functions. If we don't allow them to accumulate in limited areas and form tumors, they will spread throughout the body, resulting in a total collapse of our vital functions and death by toxemia. Cancer is only the terminal stage of a long process. Cancer is the body's healthy attempt to isolate toxins ingested and accumulated through years of eating the modern unnatural diet and living in an artificial environment. Cancer is the body's last drastic effort to prolong life, even a few more months or years.”
Source: Michio Kushi with Alex Jack, The Cancer-Prevention Diet, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993).
• Diet Linked to 30% of Cancers -
In a report on diet, lifestyle, and cancer, a Harvard School of Public Health study attributed 30 percent of cancer deaths to diet and obesity, 30 percent to smoking, and 5 percent to lack of exercise. Carcinogens in the workplace, family history of cancer, and viruses were responsible for 5 percent of cancer deaths, while alcohol, socioeconomic status, and reproductive factors each were associated with 3 percent. The report recommended eating more vegetables and fruits to reduce the risk of cancer of the lungs, esophagus, and larynx; eating more beans and grains to reduce cancer of the stomach and pancreas; eating less red meat to prevent colorectal cancers; eating less animal fat which is associated with prostate cancer; exercising daily and avoiding ultraviolet light from the sun.
Source: “Harvard Report on Cancer Prevention, “ Cancer Causes & Control 7 Supplement 1:S7-9, 1996.
• Diet vs. Conventional Treatment - The National Cancer Institute reported that radiation therapy and chemotherapy were ineffective and in some cases produced toxic side-effects as follow-ups to surgery in the treatment of cancer. “Except possibly in selected patients with cancer of the stomach, there has been no demonstrated improvement in the survival of patients with the ten most common cancers when radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or both have been added to surgical resection.”
In an autopsy study, researchers reported that 44 percent of 250 cancers examined had been undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and 57 percent of the people with the missed diagnoses died as a result of the malignancy or its complications.
Source: Steven A. Rosenberg, “Combined-Modality Therapy of Cancer,” New England Journal of Medicine 312:1512-14; Elizabeth C. Burton, M.D., et al, “Autopsy Diagnoses of Malignant Neoplasms,” Journal of the American Medical Association 280:1245-48, 1998.
• Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Reduces Cancer Risk - In a review of 200 studies that examined the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and cancer at selected sites, researchers found that consumption of these foods offered a significantly protective effect in 128 of 156 dietary studies in which results were expressed in terms of relative risk. For lung cancer, these foods were protective in 24 of 25 studies after control for smoking in most instances. Fruit was protective for tumors of the esophagus, oral cavity, and larynx in 28 of 29 studies. Vegetables and fruit were protective in 26 of 30 studies for the pancreas and stomach, as well as in colorectal and bladder cancers (23 of 38 studies). For malignancies of the cervix, ovary, and endometrium, a significant protective effect was shown in 11 of 13 studies. In breast cancer, a protective effect was found to be strong and consistent in meta analysis. Overall, the relative risk of cancer was about twice as high for those eating few fruits and vegetables compared to those who ate plenty of these foods. “In 1854, John Snow stopped a cholera epidemic simply by taking the handle off the pump. The research presented above suggests that consumption of fruits and vegetables may be a handle that, if manipulated by public policy, clinical advice, and public education, could have a substantial impact on a wide range of cancers,” the researchers concluded.
Source: Gladys Block et al., “Fruits, Vegetables, and Cancer Prevention: A Review of the Epidemiological Evidence,” Nutrition and Cancer 18:1-29, 1992.
CANCER CASE HISTORIES
Over the last 20 years, many individuals have recovered from cancer after following a more balanced diet. The most popular anticancer diet, as the American Cancer Society notes on its Internet site, is the macrobiotic diet. The following case histories are drawn from publications of the East West Foundation, the Kushi Foundation, and One Peaceful World.
Note abbreviations below: CPD = The Cancer Prevention Diet by Michio Kushi and Alex Jack (St. Martin’s Press, 1993); CF = Cancer-Free by Ann Fawcett (Japan Publications, 1992) ; MAC = Macrobiotic Approach to Cancer by Michio Kushi (Avery, 1992); WHG = Women’s Health Guide by Gale Jack and Wendy Esko (One Peaceful World Press, 1997); OPWJ = One Peaceful World Journal. Other sources are listed in full.
• Dean Todd, a college student with a brain tumor, who recovered with the help of his mother, in Double Vision by Alexandra Todd, (New England University Press, 1995).
• Mona Sanders, a young woman from Columbus, Miss., with a brain tumor, in CF, CPD, and OPWJ 6: Spring, 1990.
• Brian Bonaventura, an auto worker in Columbus, Ohio, in CF and CPD.
• Melissa Hatch, a yoga teacher and wife living in Maine, in OPWJ 14: Summer 1993.
• Betty Sidoryk, a civil servant in the Canadian government, with inoperable brain stem tumor, in OPWJ 34: Spring 1998.
• Christine Akbar, a physicist who recovered from terminal inflammatory breast chapter; included in WHG.
• Phyllis W. Crabtree, an educator with two adult children, who had uterine cancer that had metastasized to the breast, in CF and summarized in CPD.
• Magdaline Cronley, a homemaker in Montauk, N.Y., with breast and lung cancer that had spread to the bones, in CF.
• Anne Kramer, a mother and grandmother in Washington, Mich., in CPD.
• Bonnie Kramer, a young mother from Torrington, Conn., with breast cancer metastasized to the bone, in CF, CPD, and OPWJ 4: Spring 1990.
• Sally Weil, a mother and schoolteacher living in New Jersey, in OPWJ 17: Winter 1994.
• Macrobiotics and Cancer Recovery Experience Video with Bonnie Kramer and Chris Akbar, Kushi Institute. Short interviews with two breast cancer survivors, 1997.
• Osbon Woodford, currently a macrobiotic teacher in Cleveland, in CF and CPD.
• Cecil Dudley, a senior from Columbus, Ohio, in CF and CFD.
• Vivien Newbold, M.D., a Philadelphia physician, relates the story of her husband who had colon cancer in CF and MAC.
• Maureen Duney of Belle Mead, N.J. in CPD.
• Emily Bellew, a young mother in Columbus, Ohio, in CF and CPD.
• Frank, a copywriter for a market research company in New York, with AIDS, in AIDS, Macrobiotics, and Natural Immunity by Michio Kushi and Martha Cottrell, M.D. (Japan Publications, 1990). Also in CPD.
• Shinichiro Terayama, a physicist and management consultant, who had renal cell carcinoma that had metastasized to the lungs, in Spontaneous Healing by Andrew Weil, M.D. (Knopf, 1995).
• Christina Pirello, a young woman from Florida, who married her counselor, Bob Pirello, and went on to become a macrobiotic teacher and chef with her own cooking program, Christina Cooks!, on educational TV, in CF, CPD, and OPWJ 7: Spring 1991.
• Doug Blampied, a New Hampshire insurance executive, in CF and OPWJ 5: Summer 1990.
• Paul Marks, who developed leukemia as a child and after recovering went on to become an acupuncturist in Arlington, Mass. in Michio Kushi, Cancer and Heart Disease (Japan Publications, 1985).
• Hilda Sorhagen, a Pennsylvania yoga teacher and mother of three, in CPD.
• Patient D, a middle aged man suffering from colon cancer that had spread to the liver, in a medical study reported by Vivien Newbold, M.D., in CF.
• Elizabeth Masters, a mother and an ex-cattle rancher who is now teaching macrobiotics in Kansas, in CPD and OPWJ 8: Summer 1991.
• Janet E. Vitt, R.N., a nurse in Cleveland who overcame lung cancer, Stage IV, which had spread to the liver, pancreas, abdomen, and lymph system, in OPWJ 37: Winter 1999.
• Kathleen Raeder, in WHG and OPWJ 27: Summer 1996.
• Al Kapuler, a biologist, with cancer of the lymphatic system, in Spontaneous Healing by Andrew Weil, M.D. Knopf, 1995.
• Joanne Villano-Napoli, a young woman from Brooklyn, in OPWJ 19: Summer 1994.
• Judy MacKenney, a Massachusetts housewife with inoperable, metastatic, Stage IV lymphoma, in OPWJ 33: Winter 1998.
• Virginia Brown, R..N, a nurse, in Virginia Brown, R.N., with Susan Stayman, Macrobiotic Miracle (Japan Publications, 1985). Also summarized in CF and CPD.
• Kin Liversidge, a Massachusetts father and mountain climber, in “From Melanoma to the Matterhorn," OPWJ 31: Summer 1997.
• Marlene McKenna, a mother of four and investment broker in Providence, R.I., in CPD and CF.
• Betty Metzger, a homemaker in Shelby, Ohio, in CF and MAC.
• Michael Shanik, a Florida businessman living in Sarasota, in CF.
• Bill Templeton, a Dallas entrepreneur, in CF.
• Thomas Marron, a Rhode Island executive, in OPWJ #21: Winter 1995.
• Carter Breland, a retired school administrator in West Columbia, S.C. in OPWJ 15: Summer 1993.
• Milenka Dobic, a mother from Yugoslavia with ovarian and lymph cancer who is now a macrobiotic teacher and cook in Costa Mesa, Calif., in CPD and in Return to Paradise 2, OPW Press, Spring 1989.
• Gale Jack, a Texas schoolteacher, in Gale Jack, Promenade Home (Japan Publications, 1987).
• Dr. Hugh Faulkner, a British physician, who reversed terminal pancreatic cancer in Hugh Faulkner, Physician Heal Thyself (One Peaceful World Press, 1992). Also summarized in CPD and CF.
• Jean Kohler, a music professor in Indiana, in Jean and Marie Ann Kohler, Healing Miracles from Macrobiotics (Parker Publishing, 1979). Also summarized in CPD.
• Norman Arnold, a businessman from Columbia, S.C., in CF and CPD.
• Jean Bailey, a homemaker in Ontario, Canada, who had pancreatic cancer and a bile duct tumor, in CF.
• Mary McDade, a homemaker in Leeds, England in OPWJ 20: Autumn 1994.
• Dirk Benedict, the actor, in Dirk Benedict, Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy (Avery, 1993).
• Herb Walley, who is retired in Manchester, N.H., in CF and CPD.
• Bill Garnell, a telephone executive in Morristown, N.J., in CF.
• Edmund Hanley, a manufacturing executive from Muskegon, Mich., with prostate cancer which had metastasized to the bone, in CF and OPWJ 4: Spring 1990.
• Harold L. Harriman, a career Naval officer and aerospace executive, living in Merritt Island, Florida, in OPWJ 17: Winter 1994.
• J. R. Lee, an airline pilot in Dallas, in CF.
• Anthony Sattilaro, M.D., president of the Methodist Hospital in Philadelphia who had inoperable prostate cancer that had spread throughout his body, in Anthony Sallilaro with Tom Monte, Recalled by Life (Avon Books, 1982).
• Roger Randolph, a lawyer from Tulsa, in CPD.
• Katsuhide Kitatani, former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations who went on to found the U.N. Macrobiotic Society, in CF and CPD.
• Diane Silver Hassell, a Canadian who suffered from thyroid tumors and fibroids and who is now a macrobiotic teacher, in CF.
• Yuri Stavitsky, M.D., a Russian medical doctor working on the Chernobyl clean up with radiation sickness, including thyroid tumors, in CPD.
• Elaine Nussbaum, a mother from New Jersey with an inoperable uterine tumor, who went on to become a nutritionist and macrobiotic teacher and counselor, Elaine Nussbaum, Recovery from Cancer (Avery, 1992. Also summarized in CF and CPD.
• Gladys Abeashie of Ghana in WHG and OPWJ 23: Summer 1995.
• Gloria Swanson, the film star, in CPD.
• Patient C, suffering from uterine and endometrial cancer, in a medical study reported by Vivien Newbold, M.D., in CF.
• Laura Anne Fitzpatrick, a college student with a granular myoblastoma, currently teaching in Maine, in CPD.
More healthful diets, exercise, and other lifestyle changes are credited with bringing down the overall rate of new cases of cancer for the first time, researchers reported in 1998. In the last six years, cancer incidence dropped by about 6 percent, the first decline in national malignancy rates since statistics began to be tracked 25 years ago.
Also in 1997, the number of cancer deaths declined in the U.S. for the first time. Dr. David S. Rosenthal, president of the American Cancer Society and a Harvard Medical School professor, noted that Americans increased their vegetable and fruit intake from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, contributing to the decline.
Source: D. S. Rosenthal, “Changing Trends,” CA Cancer Journal Clin 48(1):3-4, 1998.
• Global Rates Rise - Food, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, the most comprehensive review and evaluation of scientific evidence on diet and cancer in the 1990s, concluded that 3 to 4 million cases of cancer per year could be prevented by appropriate diet and lifestyle changes.
Prepared by a 15-member panel with the support of the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund, the report made 14 dietary recommendations that "are likely to prevent cancer and are consistent with the prevention of other diseases." The report noted that worldwide 10 million people developed some form of cancer in 1996, and at least 6 million died of the disease. Source: Charles Marwick, "Global Review of Diet and Cancer Links Available," Journal of the American Medical Association 278: 1650-51, 1997.
• 22% Australian Patients Using Alternative Methods - In Australia, a cancer clinic at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney reported that 22 percent of its patients were using alternative methods, especially diet and psychological approaches, with a “very high” degree of expectation and satisfaction.
Source: S. D. Begbie et al., “Patterns of Alternative Medicine Use by Cancer Patients,” Medical Journal of Australia 165(10):545-48, 1996.
Candida albicans is a fungal microorganism that exists naturally in the linings of the digestive, respiratory, and reproductive organs in low concentrations. However, high concentrations can cause a variety of symptoms including fatigue, depression, food allergies, chemical sensitivity, and other symptoms. “Candida”—the popular name for this yeast-related illness (YRI)—has been associated with immune deficiency, and researchers have linked it with excessive use of antibiotics, oral contraceptives, treatment with corticosteroids, and a diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates. Whole grains, high in lignans and other phytochemicals that inhibit yeasts and other anaerobic growth, may be taken to help restore beneficial microflora in the intestines, as well as aduki beans and other legumes. Small amounts of miso, tempeh, shoyu, and other fermented foods may also be taken.
• Whole Grains Beneficial for Candida - In a review of candida, Elmer Cranton, M.D., a former president of the American Holistic Medical Association, recommended dietary treatment including avoidance of simple sugars that promote the growth of yeast, soft drinks, and alcohol. He also recommended temporary minimization of breads and baked goods and some cereals which may trigger symptoms as part of the healing response. “As improvement occurs, intake of complex carbohydrate [rice, oats, barley, etc.] may be increased to a more desirable level,” he emphasized.
Source: E. M. Cranton, “Candida Albicans: A Common Cause of Fatigue and Depression,” Journal of Holistic Medicine 8:3-14, 1986.
Canola oil, produced from the rapeseed plant, spread throughout modern society in the 1990s. As a monosaturated oil, it helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and its light taste makes it a favorite in natural foods stores and restaurants. However, concerns have been raised about its safety. Moreover, the majority of canola oil sold today is genetically engineered and like other GEFs is unlabeled. Macrobiotic dietary guidelines call for avoiding or minimizing its use.
• Canola as a Source of Trans Fatty Acids in Mother’s Milk - In a study of 198 samples of breast milk in nine Canadian provinces, researchers found the concentration of trans fatty acids in mother’s milk remarkably similar to that in hydrogenated soybean and canola oils “suggesting that partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are the major source of these trans fatty acids.” Trans fatty acids are associated with elevated risk of cardiovascular and other diseases.
Source: Z. Y. Chen et al., “Trans Fatty Acid Isomers in Canadian Human Milk,” Lipids 30(1):15-21, 1995.
• Potential Dangers of Canola Oil - Oil from the rapeseed plant has been used as a lubricant, soap, fuel, synthetic rubber, and illuminant to make slick color pages in magazines, but is not a traditional cooking oil. In human tissues, it forms latex-like corpuscles that cause red blood cells to clump, leading to glaucoma and other symptoms, according to health researcher John Thomas. Added to animal feeds in Europe between 1986 and 1991, he reports, it caused blindness in cows, pigs, and sheep and may be implicated in the mad cow epidemic. Thomas asserts that rape oil was the source for mustard gas, the infamous poison that blistered the lungs and skin of soldiers during World War I. Canola oil contains large amounts of isothiocyanates, compounds that contain cyanide and inhibit energy production and cell regeneration. In addition to pesticides, canola oil may be contributing to the increase in systemic lupus, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, pulmonary hypertension, and nervous disorders.
Source: John Thomas, "Blindness, Mad Cow Disease, and Canola Oil," Perceptions, March/April 1995, p. 28-29.
Carotenoids are a family of nutrients in plants that are associated with increased health and less disease. Altogether there are nearly 600 types of carotenoids, of which beta-carotene, which makes up about 25 percent of edible varieties, is the most well known. It is efficiently converted by the body into vitamin A and as an antioxidant blocks free radicals which can damage cell membranes and protects against cancer.
In the 1980s, dozens of studies reported that increased intake of beta carotene was associated with a decreased risk of many cancers of the respiratory and digestive tracts, including lung, oral cavity, throat, stomach, colon, and rectum. Taking beta-carotene in the form of supplements, however, has been linked with increased incidence of lung cancer. Scientists strongly recommend that the carotenoids be taken in whole foods. See Immune Function, Lung Cancer, Macular Degeneration, Olestra, Polyps, Smoking, Vegetables.
• Carotenoid Rich Vegetables Protect Against Heart Disease - In a study of middle aged men at risk of heart disease, those who had the highest carotenoid levels in their blood were one third less likely to suffer a heart attack. Nonsmokers consistently show the strongest benefits. In another study of nurses, Boston researchers reported that those who ate five or more servings of carrots a week had 68 percent less strokes than those who ate one or less a month.
Source: Jane E. Brody, "Health Factor in Vegetables Still Elusive," New York Times, Feb. 21, 1995.
Like other orange and yellow vegetables high in beta-carotene, carrots have been associated with lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and other disorders. In Oriental medicine, they are especially good for the lungs and large intestine and their sweet taste nourishes the pancreas. See Carotenoids, Vegetables.
• Carrots Associated with Lower Cervical Cancer - An Italian case-control study found that 191 women with invasive cervical cancer consumed less carrots and green vegetables than healthy women. Both foods were highly protective, with almost a fivefold increased risk associated with eating carrots less often than once a week or green vegetables less often than once a day.
Source: C. La Vecchia et al., “Dietary Vitamin A and the Risk of Invasive Cervical Cancer,” International Journal of Cancer 34:319-22, 1984.
• Carrots Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer - Carrots may help protect against breast cancer. Scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reported that eating carrots more than twice weekly, compared with no intake, was associated with 44 percent less breast cancer in a case-control study of 13,000 women conducted in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, in a study of the effect of 26 types or groups of vegetables and fruit on cancer development, Italian researchers reported that most vegetables protected against cancer of the colon and rectum, but only carrots lowered breast cancer risk.
Sources:: M. P. Longnecker, “Intake of Carrots, Spinach, and Supplements Containing Vitamin A in Relation to Risk of Breast Cancer,” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 6(11):887-92, 1997; S. Franceschi et al., “Role of Different Types of Vegetables and Fruit in the Prevention of Cancer of the Colon, Rectum, and Breast,” Epidemiology 9(3):338-41, 1998.
• Carrots Protect Against Vulvar Cancer - Italian researchers reported that in a study of 125 women with invasive vulvar cancer and 541 controls in the Milan area, women who ate high amounts of carrots had about half the risk of contacting the disease.
Source: F. Parazzini et al., “Selected Food Intake and Risk of Vulvar Cancer,” Cancer 76(11):2291-96, 1995.
• Carrots Protect Against Lung Cancer - In a case-control study involving over 300 women in Spain, scientists found that intake of yellow/orange vegetables, principally carrots, reduced the risk of lung cancer by almost two-thirds.
Source: A. Agudo et al., “Vegetable and Fruit Intake and the Risk of Lung Cancer in Women in Barcelona, Spain,” European Journal of Cancer 33(8):1256-61, 1997.
• Carrots Improve Liver Function - In laboratory studies, scientists in India reported that carrot extracts reduced acute liver damage in mice.
Source: A. Bishayee et al., “Hepatoprotective Activity of Carrot Against Carbon Tetrachloride Intoxification in Mouse Liver,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 47(2):69-74, 1995.
Blindness due to cataracts afflicts 50 million persons worldwide. In the U.S. over 541,000 cataract operations are performed annually at a cost of almost $4 billion.
• Vegetables and Fruits Protect Against Cataracts - Older people who eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, and other nutritious foods have a lower risk of developing cataracts, the leading cause of blindness, according to doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Studies of 1380 people forty to seventy-nine years old showed that those who received nutritional supplements of vitamins A, B, C, and E found in garden vegetables were 37 percent less likely to have cataracts.
Source: M. C. Leske et al., “The Lens Opacities Case-Control Study: Risk Factors for Cataract,” Archives of Optha109(2):244-51, 1991.
Cauliflower has a crispy texture, sweet taste, and mild, calming energy. Its healing properties are widely recognized in medical and scientific reports.
In Far Eastern medicine, it is particularly good for the lungs and large intestine. See Broccoli, Vegetables.
• Cauliflower and Broccoli Sprouts Strong Anticancer Foods - Cauliflower and broccoli sprouts contain substantial quantities of phytochemicals that protect against carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, and other forms of toxicity and free radicals. In a study of the effects of brassica vegetables, researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported that 3-day old sprouts of cauliflower and broccoli contain 10 to 100 times higher levels of glucoraphanin than mature plants. This naturally occurring chemical in the foods helps induce enzymes that protect against tumors. “Small quantities of crucifer sprouts may protect against the risk of cancer as effectively as much larger quantities of mature vegetables of the same variety,” the researchers concluded.
Source: J. W. Fahey et al., “Broccoli Sprouts: An Exceptionally Rich Source of Inducers of Enzymes That Protect Against Chemical Carcinogens,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S. A. 94(19)10367-72, 1997.
Cerebral palsy, a childhood neurological disease, is characterized by poor muscle control, paralysis, spasticity, and other symptoms associated with prenatal or postnatal brain injury.
• Cereals Protect Against CP, Meat Increases Risk - In a study of the role of maternal diet in the development of the brain, researchers at Athens University Medical School in Greece reported that in a nutritional study of over 300 children, consumption of cereal grains and fish were associated with lower risk of cerebral palsy while consumption of meat was associated with increased risk.
Source: E. Petridou, “Diet During Pregnancy and the Risk of Cerebral Palsy,” British Journal of Nutrition 79(5):407-12, 1998.
Chemicals in food, the home, the workplace, and the environment have become a hallmark of modern civilization and are a major cause of the modern health and environmental crises. According to U.S. government estimates, 87,000 chemicals are used as industrial wastes, solvents, cleansers, pesticides, food additives, plastics, cosmetics, nutritional supplements, and petroleum byproducts. An estimated 15 percent of Americans suffer from chemical sensitivity, though their sensitivity is often labeled as psychosomatic. See Attention-Deficit Disorder, Environment, Fluoridation, Infectious Diseases, Pesticides, Sewage Sludge, Water.
• Reproductive and Genetic Effects of Chemicals - Chemicals used in industry and agriculture may be responsible for the epidemic of reproductive problems since 1940. Tens of thousands of chemicals have been introduced in the last half century, many of which remain in the environment for generations. Even small amounts can lead to the accumulation of considerable quantities of toxins in human and animal tissues. This can seriously imperil health, reproduction, and fetal development.
Source: "Male Reproductive Health and Environmental Oestrogens," Lancet 345(8955):933-35, 1995.
• European Report Faults Hormone Disrupters - The European Environmental Agency has confirmed evidence that many synthetic chemicals in the environment “may be threatening normal hormone function in both humans and and wildlife.” The synthetic chemicals can masquerade as hormones and disrupt the delicate cycles in living organisms. For example, snails, mussels, and other molluscs have turned from female to male as a result of exposure to hormone disruptors. Fish, including the Great Lake salmon, have developed both male and female sex organs. Testicular, breast, and prostate cancers in humans have risen dramatically in recent years and may be associated with exposure to chemicals, including laundry detergents, cosmetics, plastics, and soaps. The report upheld Principle 15 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, known as the precautionary principle, which states that “where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”
Source: Jennifer Kalnins, “European Report Recognizes Hormone Disruptions,” Alternatives Journal 24(1):4, 1998.
• EPA to Test Thousands of Chemicals for Cancerous and Mutagenic Effects - In 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a massive project to screen thousands of common chemicals, including pesticides, plastics, and cosmetics, for possible carcinogenic and mutagenic effects. The initial test will examine 15,000 chemicals for estrogen and other endocrine-like effects. Known as endocrine disrupters, certain substances in chemicals can mimic or interfere with hormones, causing problems with development, behavior, and reproduction. These have been associated with causing birth defects, low sperm counts, breast cancer, mental impairment, and other disorders.
After initial screening, suspects chemicals would be subjected to comprehensive testing on laboratory mammals, birds, amphibians, fish and shrimp.
Source: John H. Cushman, Jr., “EPA to Hunt Dangers in Everyday Products,” New York Times, August 28, 1998.
• Toxic Deception - In a study of the chemical industry, two researchers document how the chemical industry manipulates science, bends the law, and endangers public health. The book also summarizes many studies detailing the abuse of pesticides, toxins, and carcinogens in the food supply, environment, and workplace.
Source: Dan Fagin and Marianne Lavelle, Toxic Deception (Birch Lane Press, 1997.
• Our Stolen Future - Three researchers examine the worldwide threat of PCBs, DDT, and other toxins to the ecosystem, the food supply, and human beings and the threat they pose to fertility, intelligence, and survival.
Source: Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers, Our Stolen Future (New York: Dutton, 1996).
• Toxic Chemicals in the Deep Ocean - Toxic industrial chemicals have shown up in the tissues of whales that normally feed in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean, raising concern about the safety of the ocean’s food chain. Dutch researchers reported that the chemicals, polybrominated compounds that are used as flame retardants in children’s clothing, TV casings, and other products, behave like PCBs and DDT. The chemicals enter the atmosphere and river and sea water as a result of incomplete municipal incineration and eventually find their way into animal and human tissue. The findings are particularly troubling because the whales normally feed at a depth of between 1000 and 3600 feet and hunt in northern waters that are believed to be clean.
Source: Marlise Simons, “Whale Tissue Raises Worry on Toxic Chemicals,” New York Times, August 30, 1998.
From ancient times, the virtues of chewing have been widely recognized. Chewing contributes to more efficient use of nutrients, gives stronger energy, and makes the food sweeter to the taste. It also makes food go further and hence contribute to increased savings, reduced energy consumption, and a healthier planet.
When AIDS first appeared in 1981, macrobiotic educator Michio Kushi began recommending thorough chewing as a key dietary measure to help prevent the development of immune deficiency. He noted that the yang, contractive properties of saliva, which is promoted during chewing, could help neutralize the extreme yin, expansive quality of the AIDS virus.
• Saliva Inhibits HIV - Saliva contains substances that prevent the AIDS virus from infecting white-blood cells. In a study, dental researchers tested saliva from three healthy men, 35, 40, and 42 years old. Tests indicated the men were not carriers of the AIDS virus and were not known to be at high-risk for infection. In laboratory dishes, the men’s saliva prevented the AIDS virus from infecting lymphocytes, a type of white-blood cell that is among the immune system cells attacked by the AIDS virus in the body.
The researchers said the finding might help explain why no cases have been documented in which the AIDS virus was transmitted from person to person through saliva such as through kissing or sharing toothbrushes. The scientists concluded that saliva is well known to contain substances that kill bacteria and funguses and so might also be able to block the AIDS virus.
Source: P. C. Fox et al., “Saliva Inhibits HIV-1 Infectivity,” Journal of the American Dental Association 116:635-37, 1988.
• Chewing and Cancer Risk - An Indian cancer researcher concluded that thorough chewing lowered the risk of cancer. “The proper chewing of meals ensuring that mucous-rich saliva mixed with the food seemed to be protective factors.” Cancer also appeared to more prevalent in south India where white rice and considerably more fat, oil, and spices are used in cooking than in north India where whole-grain chapatis and thick dahl made with lentils are the staple.
Source: S. L. Malhotra, “Dietary Factors in a Study of Cancer Colon from Cancer Registry, with Special Reference to the Role of Saliva, Milk and Fermented Milk Products, and Vegetable Fibre,” Medical Hypotheses 3:122-26, 1977.
• Chewing Prolongs Life in a Concentration Camp - In his book on the powers of food, especially the power of chewing, Lino Stanchich, a leading macrobiotic teacher, describes how his father survived a concentration camp in Serbia during World War II by very thorough chewing.
Source: Lino Stanchich, Power Eating Program (Coconut Grove, FL: Healthy Products, 1989).
Many people in modern society switch to eating chicken and poultry because it is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than beef and other red-meat products. Poultry, however, has substantial fat content, which along with its protein, have been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, various cancers, and other illness. In addition, the poor quality of most modern day chickens is a major concern of public health authorities. Recent food poisoning epidemics, such as Salmonella, have been traced to contaminated chicken. Antibiotics given to chickens in factory farms are also believed to be a principal cause in the appearance of drug-resistant strains of bacterial related disease. See Antibiotics, Arthritis, Eggs, Global Warming, Heart Disease.
• Vast Majority of Chicken Infected with Campylobacter - Campylobacter, the leading bacterial cause of food-borne illness in the United States, infects 70 to 90 percent of chickens, according to scientists at the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Campylobacter causes between 2 and 8 million cases of sickness annually and results in 200 to 800 deaths, according to various estimates. Symptoms include cramps, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea and fever and results from eating undercooked chicken or other food that has come into contact with raw chicken.
Campylobacter may lead to a potentially fatal nerve disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome. Campylobacter used to be treated by antibiotics, but new strains of drug-resistant bacteria are developing. A recent sampling of chickens in Minnesota supermarkets found 79 percent contaminated, including 20 percent with a strain resistant to antibiotics. In another sample, 58 percent of turkeys were infected with 84 percent drug-resistance.
Source: Marian Burros, "Health Concerns Mounting Over Bacteria in Chickens," New York Times, October 20, 1997.
• Energetic Effects of Eating Chicken - Macrobiotic educator Michio Kushi, who has counseled thousands of people over the years, reports that chicken contributes to the tightening of bones, joints, muscles, and other parts of the body. Eating too much chicken, in his experience, is a leading cause of arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and other diseases in which the limbs or bones contract, wither, or waste away. Energetically, he compares this to assuming the appearance and qualities of a chicken.
Source: Michio and Aveline Kushi with Alex Jack, Macrobiotic Diet (Tokyo and New York: Japan Publications, 1993).
• Poultry and Mutant Rats - Two-foot long "mutant" rats are attacking farm animals in Chile. They are believed to have evolved after eating the droppings of hormone-fattened poultry. Burrowing in the banks of the Mapocho, a polluted river that crosses Santiago, they have attacked chickens and small goats.
Source: "Chilean Mutant Rats," Boston Globe, December 1, 1997.
Chickpeas are small, hard beans that have a sweet taste and soothing energy. They are a staple in the Middle East, South Asia, Europe, and parts of South America. Like other beans, they have cholesterol-lowering effects and are strengthening for the kidneys and bladder.
• Chickpeas Improve Circulatory Functions - In a laboratory study of the effect of diet on blood values, researchers in Spain found that eating chickpeas caused cholesterol to drop 54 percent, triacylgycerols to decrease by 70 percent, and other positive changes compared to animals fed a diet high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and casein (dairy protein).
Source: M. A. Zulet and J. A. Martinez, “Corrective Role of Chickpea Intake on a Dietary-Induced Model of Hypercholesterolemia,” Plant Foods and Human Nutrition 48(3):269-77, 1995.
• Chickpeas High in Fiber - Analyzing the fiber content of common foods, Indian scientists reported that chickpeas had the most dietary fiber (28.3 percent) of all grains, beans, and pulses tested. (The highest grain was wheat with 12.5 percent.) Cooking of dhals, the traditional curried pulse dish of South Asia, significantly increased the fiber content.
Source: P. Ramulu and P. U. Rao, “Effect of Processing on Dietary Fiber Content of Cereals and Pulses,” Plant Foods and Numan Nutrition 50(3):249-57, 1997.
Dietary imbalance may be an underlying cause of rigidity, laxness, or wild, uncontrollable emotions and behavior that lead to abuse or neglect.
• Food Allergies - A woman in England with a history of hospitalization for violent behavior and depression and child abuse, including throwing her daughter out of the house through a closed window and knocking her infant son unconscious, was tested for food allergies and found to be suffering from adverse food reactions. After being placed on a restricted diet, she improved, stopped being violent, and went on to get a job and resume normal life in the community.
Source: Richard MacKarness, M.D., Eating Dangerously (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Javanovich, 1976).
An increasing number of parents, teachers, and community organizations are concerned with the effects of the modern way of eating on children. Medical studies have begun to link hyperactivity, learning disabilities, and other syndromes with improper food. See Attention-Deficit Disorder Breast-feeding, Chocolate, Cholesterol, Dai-ry, Food Guide Pyramid, Heart Disease, Japanese Diet, Macrobiotics, Obesity, Pesticides, Prenatal Nutrition, Rice, Sea Vegetables.
• Processed Foods - In testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs over 20 years ago, Dr. Carolyn Brown, director of a school for learning disabled children in Berkeley, Calif., pointed to the social effects of changes in diet and lifestyle since World War II:
“Let us look for a moment at a few interesting health and social statistics. The members of this committee know well the evidence of the increase in synthetic foods, and other nutritional changes. . . . What do we know about what has happened to the children that grew up during these twenty-five years? We know that there was a sixfold increase in arrests of children under 15 suspected of murder, non-negligent manslaughter, aggravated assault, and rape. The factor increase was three for 15- to 17-year-olds, two for 18- to 25-year-olds. We know that ‘accidents’ resulting in death rose dramatically among the young, that divorce rates have continued to increase, that suicides have been rising among young people in comparison to the rest of the population. And we know that there has been an unprecedented 14-year decline in the scores of our most gifted children on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests. . . During the eight years from 1958 to 1966, children under seventeen with chronic health problems increased from 18.8 to 24.6 percent. Those from 17 to 24 showed an increase from 39 to 44.4 percent. . . .
“I would like to ask you senators, when we know what has happened during the past 25 years in terms of the increase in non-nutritous foods, radiation exposure, television exposure, and exposure to environmental toxins—and when we know that children born during that period show a dramatic increase in juvenile delinquency, arrest for serious crimes, chronic health problems, and low scores on Scholastic Aptitude Tests—is it not at least a fair question whether we are exposing our children on the whole to an increasingly powerful set of environmental stressors that is producing a broad range of forms of biosocial decline?”
Source: Testimony of Carolyn Brown, Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, 1977.
• Learning Disabilities - In a study of learning disabilities in children, researchers reported that diets high in refined carbohydrates raised cadmium levels, which have been associated with reduced cognitive functioning. Intellectual ability was also negatively correlated with refined food independent of cadmium, age, race, sex, and socioeconomic status.
Source: M.L. Lester et al., “Refined Carbohydrate Intake, Hair Cadmium Levels and Cognitive Functioning in Children,” Journal of Nutrition & Behavior 1:3-13, 1982.
• Macrobiotic vs. Conventional Diet - A British nutritionist found that a macrobiotic day-care center in London not only “supported normal growth” in nursery school children but also could be used as a model to implement national dietary guidelines. Comparing the nutritional adequacy of macrobiotic meals provided preschool children by the Community Health Foundation with ordinary meals at a nursery in Notting Hill, the investigator found that the macrobiotic food consisting of brown rice and other whole grains, miso soup, vegetables, beans, sea vegetables, and other supplemental foods met current U.K.-R.D.I. dietary, energy, and nutrient standards and that the children’s anthropometric measurements including weight, height, and skinfold thicknesses were normal.
In contrast, the ordinary nursery school diet was high in dairy food, lard, and other saturated fats that have been associated with the development of atherosclerosis beginning in childhood. “The diet composition of children in Group I [standard nursery] could be made more desirable by a reduction in the amount of full-cream milk and meat and an increase in the amount of cereal foods . . .,” the researcher concluded. “The total diet of Group II [macrobiotic nursery] met the U.S. Dietary Goals for fat, sugar, and carbohydrate content, although the home diets of the children were similar to that of the general population. This illustrates the power and potential of nursery meals to contribute to the adoption of a nutritionally sound and beneficial national diet.”
Source: Valerie Ventura, “A Comparative Study of the Meals Provided for Pre-School Children by Two Day Nurseries,” Department of Nutrition, Queen Elizabeth College, 1980.
• Whole Grain Diet Improves Children with Learning Disabilities - When put on a diet centered on whole grains, complex carbohydrates, and unprocessed foods, 16 children with learning and behavioral problems showed significant improvements in behavior, learning, and intelligence compared to 16 controls over a 22-week trial period. Further, cadmium and iron levels, which have been linked to learning disabilities, fell 28 and 49 percent respectively.
Source: M. and L. Colgan, “Do Nutrient Supplements and Dietary Changes Affect Learning and Emotional Reactions of Children with Learning Difficulties? A Controlled Series of 16 Cases,” Nutrition and Health 3:69-77, 1984.
• Macrobiotic Approach In Raising Health Kids - Michio and Aveline Kushi offer a macrobiotic approach to bringing up children, incorporating insights from traditional Far Eastern medicine and philosophy. Topics covered include family health and happiness; how children develop; diet and daily care; and keeping children happy. Much of the book is devoted to using diet to treat common conditions including simple fever, headaches, stom-ach ache, colds and flu, earaches, sore throats and tonsillitis, measles, roseola, mumps, chicken pox, rickets, bed-wetting and sleeping difficulties, whooping cough, pinworms, skin disorders, hyperactivity and behavioral problems, accidents, emergencies, and first aid. The book also includes recipes, a home care guide, and palm healing for children.
Source: Michio and Aveline Kushi, Raising Healthy Kids (Garden City Park, N.Y.: Avery, 1994).
• Normal Development Among Macrobiotic and Vegetarian Children - In a study of vegetarian preschool children, researchers at New England Medical Center Hospital in Boston found that the growth of macrobiotic youngsters did not significantly differ from those of non-macro-biotics before age two. After age two, macrobiotic children tended to put on weight more quickly than the children brought up on yoga diets, Seventh-Day Adventist diets, or other vegetarian regimes. Nearly all the children had been breast-fed, and it was found that macrobiotic children who had been weaned did not differ in caloric intake from nonmacrobiotics.
Source: M.W. Shull et al., “Velocities of Growth in Vegetarian Preschool Children,” Pediatrics 60:410-17, 1977.
• Low-Fat Diet Benefits Babies - Babies 7 to 13 months benefit from a diet low in saturated fat. In a case control study in Finland, researchers found that healthy infants who ate more polyunsaturated fat and less saturated fat than controls had 6 to 8 percent lower cholesterol in their blood. Both groups developed at a similar rate. The Finnish researchers noted that in earlier studies, the arteries of babies showed signs of early atherosclerosis in modern society and that exposure to a healthful diet "at the earliest possible age" would more likely adhere in future years.
Source: H. Lapinleimu, “Prospective Randomised Trial in 1062 Infants of Diet Low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol,” Lancet 345(8948):471-76, 1995.
• Heart Disease in Teens and Young Adults - By their teens, most Americans have fatty deposits in their blood vessels, according to the largest autopsy study conducted on adolescents and young adults. The results show that most youths are at risk for heart disease, said Dr. William H. Dietz, director of clinical nutrition at New England Medical Center.
The study of 1532 autopsies of young people who died from trauma found that half had coronary arteries showing evidence of early heart disease by age 19, while all 100 percent had fatty patches in the aorta, the main artery leading from the heart. "Aortic fatty streaks are universal by age 15 and increase rapidly in extent during the following decade," the researchers concluded.
The scientists further reported that the fatty streaks had progressed to tough, fibrous deposits that narrowed coronary arteries in the vast majority of both men and women by their early thirties. Interestingly, young females aged 15 to 19 had slightly higher fat deposits in the right coronary artery than young males. However, by the mid-twenties and early thirties males surpassed females.
Source: Richard A. Knox, "Fatty Deposits Found in All Young Americans in Study," Boston Globe, September 10, 1993.
CHILDREN’S LUNCH PROGRAMS
Several school systems around the United States have introduced brown rice, tofu, and more healthful foods, but as a rule school lunches are still high in fat and cholesterol, dairy, sugar, and highly processed foods.
• Soy Approved for School Lunch Programs - In 1983 the U.S.D.A. approved the use of soy products and other vegetable protein products as partial substitutes for meats in school lunch and some other feeding programs, noting:
• Soy products were comparable with milk in protein quality for preschool and older children.
• Except for premature infants, soy protein can serve as a sole protein source in the human diet.
• Soy foods are high in protease inhibitors that inhibit the action of various enzymes that have been associated with causing cancer.
• Soy formulas are lactose free and may benefit infants and small children who are sensitive to cow-milk protein which can cause diarrhea, emesis, vomiting, and weight loss.
• Soy products can reduce cholesterol and triglycerides in subjects with high lipid levels and protect against heart disease.
• Soy foods are useful in decreasing blood glucose responses compared with other high-fiber foods and may prevent diabetes.
“One desirable way to alter typical American diet patterns to meet the above [National Academy of Science, WHO, USDA] dietary recommendations involves partial replacement of foods of animal origin with cereals and legumes... “Although at the present time soy protein makes up only a small component of the American diet, it is expected that the many positive aspects of soy will result in increasingly greater human use of this legume. A whole variety of low-cost, highly functional soy-protein products are available for use.”
Source: John W. Erdman, Jr. and Elizabeth J. Fordyce, “Soy Products and the Human Diet,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 49:725-37, 1989.
• Natural Foods in School Cafeterias - The Food Studies Institute in Trumansburg, N.Y., initiates programs in school cafeterias to teach children natural foods cooking and the value of wholesome nutritious foods from around the world. Organizer Antonia Demas reports that children who have a “hands-on sensory experience” of cooking brown rice, lentils, and other healthful foods together “eat things their parents swear they’d never touch.” Her curriculum has been adopted by several schools across the country.
For Martin Luther King Day, children made a Soul Stew with black-eyed peas, corn, and kale, after sampling eight different greens. "The rest of the year, I kept hearing from parents that their kids were begging them to buy dandelion greens," Dr. Demas said.
Source: Karen Baar, "School Lunches: When They Love Even the Greens, New York Times, Sept. 3, 1997 and The Food Studies Institute, 60 Cayuga St., Trumansburg NY 14886; (607) 387-6884.
• The Healthy School Lunch Program - The Healthy School Lunch Program is a network of volunteers around the country which meets with students, teachers, and food service personnel, providing them with information on healthful foods, offering recipes, and assisting in meal preparation. Part of John Robbin’s EarthSave Foundation, the project publishes Healthy School Lunch Action Guide by Susan Campbell and Todd Winant , offering a comprehensive, step-by-step approach to changing school lunch programs in local communities.
Source: The Healthy School Lunch Program, EarthSave, 706 Frederick St., Santa Cruz CA 95062; (408) 423-4069.
• Nutritional Curriculum for Junior High Students - The Rite Bite is a nutritional curriculum designed for junior high students to examine their own lifestyles and learn about vegetarian and natural foods. The 141-page notebook includes teacher lesson guides, background information, and posters, as well as handouts, activities, and fix-at-school recipes for six fun, informative sessions.
Source: The Rite Bite, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, 5100 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Suite 404, Washington, DC 20016; (202) 686-2210.
• Preschoolers Like Tofu - In tests of the acceptability of tofu in the lunch menus of preschoolers, analysis showed that the nutritional quality of the nine tofu recipes adhered more closely to dietary guidelines than the beef, chicken, eggs, and cheese originally served. The children accepted the tofu well, preferring it to dairy and meat in several dishes including macaroni and cheese, lasagna, tuna casserole, and quiche.
Source: H. L. Ashraf et al., , “Use of Tofu in Preschool Meals,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 90:114-16, 1990.
• College Students Respond to Tofu - When tofu replaced meat, eggs, and dairy food as the main protein source in twelve recipes in a college cafeteria, researchers found that it increased nutrition and was well accepted by the students. The only two recipes found lacking were those for tofu nuggets, which had a poor texture, and tofu chocolate mint pie. In the latter recipe, students disliked not the tofu but the mint flavoring.
Source: H. L. Ashraf and D. Luczycki, “Acceptability of Tofu-Containing Foods among College Students,” Journal of Nutrition Education 22:137-40, 1990.
CHINA HEALTH STUDY
The China Health Study, touted as the grand prix of epidemiology studies, challenged modern dietary assumptions in the early 1990s. Sponsored by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the Chinese Institute of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, the study correlated average food and nutrient intakes with disease mortality rates in 65 rural Chinese counties. The typical Chinese diet included a high proportion of cereals and vegetables and a low amount of meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. Less than 1 percent of deaths were caused by coronary heart disease, and breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, and other malignancies common in the West were comparatively rare. Among the researchers’ chief findings:
• Fat consumption should ideally be reduced to 10 to 15 percent of calories to prevent degenerative disease, not 30 percent as usually recommended.
• The lowest risk for cancer is generated by the consumption of a variety of fresh plant products.
• Eating animal protein is linked with chronic disease. Compared to the Chinese who derive 11 percent of their protein from animal sources, Americans obtain 70 percent from animal food.
• A rich diet that promotes early menstruation may increase a woman’s risk of cancer of the breast and reproductive organs.
• Dairy food is not needed to prevent osteoporosis, the degenerative thinning of the bones that is common among older women.
• Meat consumption is not needed to prevent iron-deficiency anemia. The average Chinese consumes twice the iron Americans do, primarily from plant sources, and shows no signs of anemia.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a Cornell biochemist and principal American director of the project, noted, “Usually, the first thing a country does in the course of economic development is to introduce a lot of livestock. Our data are showing that this is not a very smart move, and the Chinese are listening. They’re realizing that animal-based agriculture is not the way to go.”
Source: Chen Junshi, T. Colin Campbell, Li Junyao, and Richard Peto, Diet, Life-Style, and Mortality in China (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990). and Jane Brody, “Huge Study of Diet Indicts Fat and Meat,” New York Times, May 8, 1990.
Chili peppers are associated with higher stomach cancer rates, epidemiologists from the Mexico National Institute of Public Health and Yale University concluded. In a study of the dietary habits of Mexico City residents, people who described themselves as "heavy" eaters of hot chili peppers were 17 times for likely to have stomach cancer than those who did not consume hot peppers. "Medium" consumers had four times as much stomach cancer. Previous laboratory and cell tissue studies indicated that capsaicin, a substances in hot peppers that makes them hot, is a carcinogen.
Source: "Hot Peppers Linked to Stomach Cancer," Berkshire Eagle, February 26, 1994.
Chocolate is native to Central and South America and has been enjoyed for centuries for its intoxicating qualities. High in caffeine, chocolate raises blood sugar and gives feelings of emotional satisfaction. It is the number one binge food among modern women and associated with hyperactivity in children. See Attention-Deficit Disorder, Children’s Health, Sugar.
• Chocolate Linked to Migraines - In a study of migraine headaches, British researchers reported that 16.5 percent of patients surveyed reported that chocolate could precipitate these painful, throbbing attacks. Other precipitating foods included cheese and alcoholic drinks, especially beer and wine.
Source: R. C. Peatfield, “Relationships Between Food, Wine, and Beer-Precipitated Migrainous Headaches,” Headache 35(6):355-57, 1995.
• Chocolate Increases Risk of Bowel Disease - Investigating the relationship between dietary factors and inflammatory bowel disease, Dutch researchers reported that in a case-control study of 290 patients with Crohn’s disease, 398 patients with ulcerative colitis, and 616 controls, consumption of chocolate was associated with two and a half more times the rate of these disorders.
Source: M. G. Russel et al., “‘Modern Life’ in the Epidemiology of Inflammatory Bowel Disease,” European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 10(3):243-49, 1998.
• Chocolate Increases Risk of Colic - In a study of maternal nutrition and its effect on babies, University of Minnesota researchers reported that breast-feeding women consuming higher amounts of chocolate had nearly a 50 percent higher risk of their infants developing colic than those with lower intake of this item.
Source: K. D. Lust et al., “Maternal Intake of Cruciferous Vegetables and Other Foods and Colic Symptoms in Exclusively Breast-Fed Infants,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 96(1):46-48, 1996.
Cholesterol, a waxy, fatlike substance produced in the liver, contributes to cell membranes, vitamin D, sex and adrenal hormones, bile production, and other metabolic processes. However, in excess, it causes atherosclerosis, or the build up of plaque in artery walls, that can cause a heart attack, stroke, or peripheral artery disease.
High serum cholesterol is associated with consumption of foods high in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, including eggs, meat, poultry, and dairy foods. Whole grains, beans, soy products, sea vegetables, and other plant quality foods can suppress or lower cholesterol in the blood. Risk of cardiovascular disease is commonly measured by total cholesterol, the ratio of total cholesterol to “good” HDL cholesterol, and various cholesterol fractions. See Beans, Complex Carbohydrates, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Oats, Sesame, Soy Foods, Tarahumara Diet, U.S. Surgeon-General’s Report, Vegetarians, Vitamin B-12, Wakame, Wheat, Whole Grains.
• Pioneer Study Links Diet, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol - In one of the first studies to show the direct effects of animal food on raising blood pressure, a study of 21 macrobiotic persons by Harvard Medical School researchers found that the addition of 250 grams of beef per day for four weeks to their regular diet of whole grains and vegetables raised serum cholesterol levels 19 percent. Systolic blood pressure also rose significantly. After returning to a low-fat diet, cholesterol and blood pressure values returned to previous levels.
Source: F. M. Sacks et al., “Effects of Ingestion of Meat on Plasma Cholesterol of Vegetarians,” Journal of the American Medical Association 246:640-44, 1981.
• Soy Lowers Cholesterol - Soy protein in tofu, tempeh, and other soy products can significantly lower cholesterol levels in people with moderately high to high levels, according to a review of 38 trial studies. The higher the cholesterol, researchers said, the greater the ability of soy protein to bring it down. The report found that a diet including 47 grams of soy protein a day cut cholesterol levels by an average of 9.3 percent in a month. For those with cholesterols over 300, the count dropped 20 percent. Harmful triglycerides are also blocked by soy protein, the scientists observed.
"Even a 10 to 15 percent reduction in blood cholesterol levels results in a 20 to 30 percent reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease," said Dr. James W. Anderson of the University of Kentucky and one of the authors of the report. "This has the potential of making a huge impact on American public health."
Source: Natalie Angier, "Health Benefits from Soy Protein," New York Times, August 3, 1995.
• Reducing Cholesterol in Children - Top American health officials joined in calling for a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet for everyone over age two to prevent heart disease in later life, not just for adults at risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease. The recommendations, sponsored by a panel convened by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the Cholesterol Education Program and endorsed by a coalition of forty-two major health and medical organizations, called for the cholesterol testing of all children whose parents or grandparents had heart attacks or other cardiovascular problems, including a parent with blood cholesterol over 240.
The panel called for reductions in fat consumption and for intake of more grains, vegetables, and fruit.
Groups that endorsed the report included the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Public Health Association, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Source: Warren E. Leary, “Cholesterol Tests Are Recommended for a Quarter of Children,” New York Times, April 9, 1991.
• Low-Fat Diet Reduces Cholesterol - In a study of 1,232 men aged 40 to 49 with high cholesterol who were put on a low-fat diet, researchers found a 13 percent reduction in mean total cholesterol levels in comparison to a control group. At the end of 7.5 years, the incidence of heart attack and sudden death was 47 percent lower in the experimental group. The scientists attributed the changes to reduced cigarette smoking and diet.
Source: I. Hjermann, “Effect of Diet and Smoking Intervention on the Incidence of Coronary Heart Disease: Report from the Oslo Study Group of a Randomised Trial in Healthy Men,” Lancet 2:1303-10, 1981.
• Heart Deaths Decline - America’s declining cholesterol levels and change to a diet lower in fat have coincided with a 54 percent decline in heart disease deaths between 1978 and 1990. During this period, the average cholesterol level in adults dropped from 213 milligrams per deciliter of blood to 205, a 4 percent decline, according to figures compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics.
Studies have shown that for every 1 percent drop in cholesterol level, there is almost a 2 to 4 percent drop in coronary heart disease. The proportion of adults with high cholesterol (over 240) fell from 26 percent to 20 percent during this period.
Source: “Study Shows Drop in Cholesterol Levels in U.S.,” Boston Globe, June 16, 1993.
CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME
Chronic fatigue is a crippling immune-deficiency disorder that particularly strikes young adults. In 1998, the Centers for Disease Control reported that it afflicted 183 persons out of every 100,000 in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 69. The previous CDC study found that it affected 4 to 9 cases per 100,000. CFS is considered incurable medically, but often responds to dietary therapy.
• Case History - Lucy Burdo recovered from CFS using macrobiotics.
Source: One Peaceful World Journal 26: Spring, 1996.
Caffeine, the active ingredient in coffee, is a stimulant associated with affecting the nervous system. In medical studies, coffee is generally not associated with cardiovascular disease or most cancers, except possibly pancreatic cancer, but it may affect blood pressure and decrease infertility in women. See Caffeine, Myopia.
• Coffee Raises Blood Pressure and Heart Rate - In a study of the effects of caffeine, researchers at the University of Iowa reported that coffee raised systolic and diastolic blood pressure 3.6 and 5.6 mm/Hg respectively, most notably shortly after ingestion, and heart rate was higher overnight following caffeine consumption.
Source: P. J. Green and J. Suis, “The Effects of Coffeine on Ambulatory Blood Prfessure, Heart Rate, and Moon in Coffee Drinkers,” Journal of Behavioral Medicine 19(2):111-28, 1996.
• Unfiltered Coffee Raises Cholesterol - In a study of different brewing methods, researchers in the Netherlands reported that boiling coffee in the Turkish or Scandinavian way raises LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol, while filtered coffee does not affect cholesterol. The scientists identi-fied cafestol and kahweol, diterpene lipids, in coffee beans as the cholesterol-raising ingredients, which are retained by a paper filter but extracted by hot water.
Source: R. Urgert and M. B. Katan, “The Cholesterol-Raising Factor from Coffee Beans,” Annual Reveiw of Nutrition 17:305-24, 1997.
• Coffee and Lifestyle - In a study associating lifestyle factors with coffee and tea consumption, researchers reported that coffee drinking is "positively associated with factors that promote coronary heart disease, while drinking tea is associated with a preventive lifestyle." The survey of 2,400 men and women aged 25 to 64 found that coffee intake was associated with a higher frequency of meat dinners including more fat, more sausages, and more eggs and less fruit. Tea drinking was linked to higher fish, salad, vegetable and fruit consumption. Coffee drinks also exercised less, while tea drinkers exercised more.
Source: Bernhard Schwarz, M.D., et al. "Coffee, Tea, and Lifestyle," Preventive Medicine 23: 377-384, 1994.
Colitis, a prevalent intestinal disorder, is often incurable. Dietary therapy has proven beneficial for some people with this persistent, fatiguing disease. See Sugar.
• Fat and Colitis - In a study of dietary factors associated with the risk of ulcerative colitis, researchers in Japan found that consumption of Western foods, including bread for breakfast, butter, margarine, cheese, meats, and ham/sausage, was related to the disease, while no appreciable association was found for consumption of Japanese foods, vegetables, and fruits. The scientists concluded that margarine or chemically modified fat could play a causative role in the development of colitis.
Source: “A Case-Control Study of Ulcerative Colitis in Relation to Dietary and Other Factors in Japan,” Journal of Gastroenterology 30 Supplement 8:9-12, 1995.
• Case History - Andrew Weil mentions the case of a woman with ulcerative colitis for many years who was taking prednisone and other suppressive drugs. After starting macrobiotics, the colitis promptly disappeared.
Source: by Andrew Weil, M.D., Spontaneous Healing, (New York: Knopf, 1995).
Collard greens, a traditional Native American, African-American, and Southern delicacy, are popular in the natural foods community and modern health-conscious society. Tender, sweet, and mild, the freshest varieties melt in the mouth. High in antioxidants as well as calcium and other minerals, collards are especially strengthening for the liver, gallbladder, heart, and small intestine. Like other green leafy vegetables, they help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and other disorders.
• Home Remedies - In his book on home remedies, Michio Kushi explains how to use collards to make Leafy Greens Juice to treat liver disorders and dissolve heavy, stagnated protein, animal fat, or cholesterol. Their large greens leaves are also used in a Cholorophyll Plaster to reduce fever, sooth inflammation, or relieve burns.
Source: Michio Kushi, Basic Home Remedies (Becket, MA: One Peaceful World Press, 1994).
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States, accounting for 56,000 deaths each year. Consumption of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol increase the risk for this disease. Alcohol and smoking are associated with causing polyps, benign growths in the large intestine that may become malignant. Low intake of whole grains, high in fiber, and vegetables, especially those high in folate, are also linked to colon cancer. See Broccoli, Cabbage,
Polyps, Water, Whole Grains, Women’s Health.
• Meat Raises Risk of Colon Cancer - Women who eat beef, lamb, or pork as a daily main dish are at two and a half times the risk for developing colon cancer as women who eat meat less than once a month. The conclusion, drawn from a study of 88,751 nurses, over a ten-year period, found that the more fish and poultry in the diet the less chances of getting colon cancer. “The substitution of other protein sources, such as beans or lentils, for red meat might also be associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer in populations that consume more legumes,” researchers concluded. Investigators also found that eating the fiber from fruit appeared to reduce the risk of colon cancer. The fruits mentioned as possibly protective included apples and pears.
“The less red meat the better,” recommended Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, who directed the study. “At most, it should be eaten only occasionally. And it may be maximally effective not to eat red meat at all.”
Sources: Walter C. Willett et al., “Relation of Meat, Fat, and Fiber Intake to the Risk of Colon Cancer in a Prospective Study among Women,” New England Journal of Medicine 323:1664-72, 1990 and Anastasia Toufexis, “Red Alert on Red Meat,” Time, December 24, 1990.
• Whole Grains Protective Against Colon Cancer - In a population-based case-control study of over 4000 people in California, Utah, and Minnesota, cancer researchers reported that high whole grain intake was associated with up to 60 percent less risk for this disease, while intake of refined grains increased the risk one and a half to two times. Foods high in fiber, vitamin B-6, thiamine, and niacin were also protective.
Source: M. L. Slattery, “Plant Foods and Colon Cancer; An Assessment of Specific Foods and Their Related Nutrients,” Cancer Causes Control 8(4):575-90, 1997.
Complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides), found in whole grains, beans, vegetables, and sea vegetables, enter the bloodstream gradually and contribute to overall health and balance. Because of their protective effect in the development of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other serious disorders, scientific and medical guidelines all call for substantial increases in complex carbohydrates and corresponding decreases in intake of simple carbohydrates such as sugar, white flour, and white rice. See Paleolithic Diet, Premenstrual Syndrome, Whole Grains, World Health Organization.
• Saturated Fat and Cholesterol - Comparing the blood values of middle-aged Irishmen living in Ireland, their brothers who had migrated to Boston, and unrelated men of Irish descent living in Boston, researchers at Harvard School of Public Health found that mean total blood cholesterol levels were strongly correlated with intake of saturated fatty acid and dietary cholesterol from meat and other animal food. Fiber intake and vegetable consumption were also lower among those who died from coronary heart disease, leading the researchers to speculate that a decrease in complex carbohydrates rather than a change in fat consumption was the main causative factor in increased mortality from heart disease.
“Although the risk of coronary heart disease has been reported to be related to the intake of dietary lipids, an equally consistent finding has been the relation with starches and complex carbohydrates,” the scientists noted. “. . . The principal nutritional change that has occurred since the early 1900s has been a decrease in the consumption of dietary carbohydrates, not including sugar, of about 45 percent during the period from 1909 to 1976. In contrast, changes in the consumption of dietary lipids have been much smaller.”
Source: L. H. Kushi et al., “Diet and 20-Year Mortality from Coronary Heart Disease. The Ireland-Boston Diet-Heart Study,” New England Journal of Medicine 312:811-18, 1985.
• Complex Carbohydrates Stimulate Mental Development - At Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), researchers have investigated the effects of food on the brain and nervous system. “It is becoming increasingly clear that brain chemistry and function can be influenced by a single meal. That is, in well-nourished individuals consuming normal amounts of food, short-term changes in food composition can rapidly affect brain function,” explained Dr. John Fernstrom.
According to scientists, whole grains and other foods high in complex carbohydrates have the capacity to increase the brain’s intake of tryptophan, an amino acid that aids in relief of pain and in lowering blood pressure. Tryptophan has also been associated in studies with lifting depression and improving sleep. In contrast to grains and vegetables, meals high in animal protein lower levels of tryptophan reaching the brain. This “growing body of information now points to new clinically useful applications of tryptophan and thus also for the use of specific meals that would increase tryptophan levels,” Fernstrom concluded.
Source: Tom Monte, “A Nutritional Approach to Mental Health,” Michio Kushi et al., Crime and Diet (Tokyo & New York: Japan Publications, 1987), pp. 146-47.
Cooking, the highest art, is found in all cultures and cuisines. It is essential to digestion and helps the body assimilate and metabolize food more smoothly.
• Light Cooking Reduces Harmful Acids in Raw Vegetables - In a study on the effect of lightly cooking green leafy vegetables, researchers in Tanzania reported that blanching significantly reduced the level of phytic and tannic acid in collard, cabbage, turnip, sweet potato, and peanut greens. “In general, blanching is recommended as an effective method for reducing the antinutritional factors in green vegetables,” the scientists concluded.
Source: T. C. Mosha, “Effect of Blanching on the Content of Antinutritional Factors in Selected Vegetables,” Plant Foods and Human Nutrition 47(4):361-67, 1995.
Native to Central and South America, corn (or maize) is enjoyed eaten on the cob, ground into whole corn dough (masa), or made into grits, flour, or oil. Corn provides light, expansive energy and is especially strengthening for the heart and small intestine.
• Corn Protects Against Colorectal Cancer - In a case-control study on the risk of colorectal cancer, researchers at the University of Hawaii Cancer Research Center reported that consumption of corn, as well as other plant-quality foods, reduced risk for this disease independent of its fiber content, which is also a protective factor.
Source: L. Le Marchand et al., “Dietary Fiber and Colorectal Cancer Risk,” Epidemiology 8(6):658-65, 1997.
In 1558 Luigi Cornaro, a Venetian-born architect and counselor, wrote The Art of Living Long, an essay on health and diet describing how he suffered from a terminal stomach disorder in middle-age which he overcame by adopting a grain-based diet and avoiding certain kinds of animal food, raw salads, fruit, pastries, and sweets. Stating that we cannot partake of a “more natural food” than plain dark bread, Cornaro lived to age 102, and his book became one of the most influential books on health and diet during the Renaissance.
Source: Luigi Cornaro, The Art of Living Long (Milwaukee: William F. Butler, 1935).
CRIME AND DIET
In Erewhon, Samuel Butler’s satirical 19th century novel, criminals are sent to the hospital and treated with proper diet, while the sick are put in jail because they have violated the laws of nature and health.
The wisdom of treating crime and anti-social behavior as an illness has been increasingly demonstrated in macrobiotic and natural foods prison projects around the world and in nutritional studies and research.
• Sugar and Theft - In a double-blind study, Doris J. Rapp, M.D. reported that four young persons with a history of stealing stopped altogether after being place on a restricted diet. However, when the therapy was discontinued and the former diet high in sugar and other refined carbohydrates was resumed, stealing resumed.
Source: Doris J. Rapp, M.D., “Food Allergy Treatment for Hyperkinesis,” Journal of Learning Disabilities 12(9):42-50, 1979.
• Sugar Linked to Violent Behavior - Frank Kern, assistant director at Tidewater Detention Center in Chesapeake, Virginia, a state facility for juvenile offenders, decided to initiate some dietary reforms in a macrobiotic direction. In 1979 he arranged an experiment in which sugar was taken out of the meals and snacks of 24 inmates. The boys, aged 12 to 18, were jailed for offenses that ranged from disorderly conduct, larceny, and burglary to alcohol and narcotics violations.
Coke machines were removed from the premises and fruit juice substituted in vending machines for soft drinks, while honey and other milder sweeteners were substituted for refined sugar. The three-month trial was designed as a double-blind case-control study so that neither the detention center personnel nor the inmates knew that they were being tested. At the end of the trial period, the regular staff records on inmates’ behavior were checked against a control group of 34 youngsters who had been institutionalized previously. Researchers found that the youngsters on the modified diet exhibited a 45 percent lower incidence of formal disciplinary actions and antisocial behavior than the control group.
Follow-up studies over the next year showed that after limiting sugar there was an 82 percent reduction in assaults, 77 percent reduction in thefts, 65 percent reduction in horseplay, and 55 percent reduction in refusal to obey orders. The researchers also found that “the people most likely to show improvement were those who had committed violent acts on the outside.”
Source: S. Schoenthaler, Ph.D., “The Effect of Sugar on the Treatment and Control of Antisocial Behavior,” International Journal of Biosocial Research 3(1):1-9, 1982.
• Macrobiotics in a Portuguese Maximum-Security Prison - In 1979 several inmates at the Central Prison in Linho outside of Lisbon, Portugal, began eating macrobiotically and attending lectures on Oriental philosophy and medicine. Soon 30 prisoners had become macrobiotic, and prison officials allowed them to use a large kitchen where they cooked and ate together several times a week.
Linho, a maximum security institution, housed Portugal’s most dangerous criminals, including José Joaquim (known as “Al Capone”), a celebrated safecracker, and Antonio (To Zé) José Aréal, mastermind of a gang of armed robbers and kidnappers that had been the object of a nation-wide manhunt. As a result of attitude and behavioral changes, To Zé and most of the other prisoners attending classes received commutations and were released early. “[T]here is a great difference in them, especially in those who have left the prison,” Senhor Alfonso, a prison administrator, noted, commenting on the macrobiotic group. “It is not easy to describe—for one thing I can say that now they take more initiative. Actually, there is no problem here with anyone who is macrobiotic; this way of life enjoys a very good reputation. I believe the food and the outside stimulus both helped. The food can change people.” To Zé went on to study at the Kushi Institute in Boston and taught macrobiotics in New Bedford, site of a large Portuguese-speaking population, before returning to teach and help other prisoners in Portugal.
Source: Meg Seaker, “Fighting Crime with Diet: Report from a Portuguese Prison,” East West Journal, July, 1982, pp. 26-34.
• Diet Reduces Recidivism - A Cleveland probation official reported a low rate of recidivism among youthful offenders given nutritionally balanced meals. Barbara Reed of the Cuyahoga Falls Municipal Probation Department reported that of 318 offenders, 252 required attention to their diet, and “we have not had one single person back in court for trouble who has maintained and stayed on the nutritional diet.”
Later, Reed reported that more than a thousand ex-offenders had completed her dietary program, and of those who remained on the diet, 89 percent had not been rearrested over the past five years.
Sources: Barbara Reed, statement before the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs of the U.S. Senate, June 22, 1977 and in Michio Kushi et al., Crime and Diet (Tokyo and New York: Japan Publications, 1987), p. 149.
• Milk Consumption Linked to Juvenile Delinquency - High milk consumption was connected with juvenile delinquency in a study by criminologists. Researchers at the University of Washington monitored the die-tary intake of 30 chronic youthful offenders and compared them to a group of behaviorally disordered children from the local school district in Tacoma, Wash. They found that the male offenders consumed an average of 64 ounces of milk a day, while the control group rank an average of 30 ounces. For girls, the figures were 35 and 17 ounces respectively. “In some situations,” they concluded, “eliminating milk from the diet can result in dramatic improvements in behavior, especially in hyperactive children.” They cited other studies showing that up to 90 percent of offenders had a history of milk intolerance or allergy.
Source: Alexander Schauss, Diet, Crime, and Delinquency (Berkeley, Calif.: Parker House, 1981), pp. 13-14.
Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammation of the intestinal wall, occurs in both sexes, especially among younger people aged 14 to 24. Medically, Crohn’s disease is considered an irreversible, often fatal disorder that can be treated only by recurrent surgery to remove sections of the small intestine. See Chocolate.
• Case History - Virginia Harper completely recovered from Crohn’s disease and Takayasu Arteritis after adopting a macrobiotic way of eating. She now teaches and cooks in Tennessee.
Source: Gale Jack and Wendy Esko, Editors, Women’s Health Guide (Becket, MA: One Peaceful World Press, 1997).
• High-Fat, High-Sugar Diet Associated with Crohn’s Disease - People with Crohn’s disease eat more sugar and sweets than normal and increased amounts of dietary fat. In a review of nutritional factors associated with this disease, a researcher found that a diet that limits dairy products, yeast, and refined cereals contributed to prolonged remission in some studies.
Source: J. O. Hunter, “Nutritional Factors in Inflammatory Bowel Disease,” European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 10(3):235-37, 1998.
The area of grain land supporting each person on the planet has fallen to less than one sixth the size of a soccer field, according to Shrinking Fields, a study by the Worldwatch Institute. In the U.S., net losses of cropland between 1982 and 1992 covered an area the size of New Jersey. In China during the same period, at least 5 percent of the nation's cropland was lost to urban expansion and industrialization. Large expanses of Kazakhstan and Iran are also exhausted.
Main causes of shrinking cropland are urbanization, depletion or diversion of irrigation water, and degradation of agricultural lands, especially from severe erosion and salination. The shift to nonfood crops such as cotton, coffee, tobacco, corn for ethanol, and commodity crops for the affluent global market, were also cited as contributing factors. "If policymakers do not see cropland as a key strategic resource—no less important than oil reserves or armed forces—then they will not take steps to halt these losses or protect the quality of remaining farmland," the report concluded.
Source: Gary Gardner, Shrinking Fields (Washington, D.C.: Worldwatch Institute, 1996)
The cruciferae family of plants has “crosslike” formations on its buds and includes broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, kale, kohlrabi, turnips, collards, mustard greens, and rutabaga. High in antioxidant (such as vitamins A and C), calcium, and dietary fiber, the cruciferous plants also include phytochemicals that are protective against cancer and other serious disease. See Broccoli, Cauliflower, Collards, Kale, Vegetables.