In 1985 the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare issued dietary recommendations calling for:
• Reduction of total fat to 20 to 25 percent of calories.
• Reduction in saturated fat intake.
• Increased use of vegetable and fish oil.
• Restriction of salt consumption to 10 grams or less a day.
• Adoption of a varied diet (at least 30 foods daily).
• Home cooking.
• Creation of a pleasant eating environment.
See Colitis, Isoflavones, Pancreatic Cancer.
Source:: Japanese Ministery of Health and Welfare, Tokyo, 1985.
• Cancer Rates Rise in Japan with Modern Diet - Epidemiologists reported that cancer of the lung, breast, and colon increased two to three times among Japanese women between 1950 and 1975. During that period, milk consumption increased 15 times; meat, eggs, and poultry climbed seven and a half times; and rice consumption dropped 70 percent. In Okinawa, with the highest proportion of centenarians, longevity was associated with lowered sugar and salt intake and higher intake of protein and green and yellow vegetables.
Source: Y. Kagawa, “Impact of Westernization on the Nutrition of Japan,” Preventive Medicine 7:205-17, 1978
• Heart Disease Rates Rise as Japanese Migrate West - Scientists observed that coronary heart disease prevalence and incidence rates tripled among Japanese within a generation of their migration to the West Coast of the United States and doubled in Japanese who migrated to Hawaii. These changes coincided with a change in the immigrants’ diet, especially levels of saturated fat and serum cholesterol.
Source: T. L. Robertson et al., “Epidemiologic Studies of Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke in Japanese Men Living in Japan, Hawaii and California,” American Journal of Cardiology 39:239-43, 1977.
• High-Fat Food and Rising Disease in Japan - With over a thousand McDonald's in Japan, high-fat food is taking its toll. Between 1955 and 1992, according to a Japanese Government report, the consumption of fat rose from 8.7 percent of calories to 25.5 percent and a higher rate of chronic diseases.
Between 1960 and 1991, grain intake in Japan dropped from 14 ounces a day to less than 10 ounces. Rice fell from 10 ounces to 7 ounces, while milk and dairy products rose from 2 ounces to 8 ounces to supplant grain as the most consumed food item. Low-fat dairy products are virtually unavailable. During the same period, meat consumption rose from less than an ounce to 3 ounces and fat and oil intake tripled, rising from less than half an ounce to 1.5 ounces. Sodium consumption, however, has fallen, from 20 grams on average to 13 grams per day.
As a result of these dietary changes, the mortality rate from colon, lung, rectal and liver cancer has risen among men and breast cancer in women has increased. (Deaths from stroke and stomach cancer have fallen, evidently as a result of less salt consumption.)
"In Japan housewives still stay home,” Dr. Takashi Sugimura, president emeritus of the National Cancer Center in Tokyo, explained, describing the different rates among men and women. "But men have many outside dinners and meetings, and food is Western style because it is easier and more convenient for the hotel or restaurant to prepare."
Declining health among children is particularly troubling. A recent study showed that Japanese children aged 8 to 14 had higher cholesterol levels than American children. "The Government is concerned; pediatric cardiologists are concerned," said Dr. Teruo Omae, president of the national Cardiovascular Center in Osaka. "They are warning that the situation is very risky and that children will have a greatly increased risk factor for heart disease."
Source: Marian Burros, "High-Fat Food Is Taking Its Toll in Japan," New York Times, April 13, 1994.
• Cancer Rises as Japanese Migrate West - An epidemiological study indicated that dietary habits and environmental influences are the chief determinants of the world’s varying cancer rates and not genetic factors. Data showed that in the course of three generations, Japanese migrants in the United States contracted colon cancer at the same rates as the general American population. In contrast, the regular colon cancer rate in Japan remained about one-fourth the American incidence.
Source: W. Haenszel and M. Kurihara, “Studies of Japanese Migrants,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 40:43-68, 1968.
Dietary wisdom stands behind the Bible, from the story of the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis to how Daniel refused the rich meat of the king’s table, from the story of how David built the Temple in Jerusalem to the prophecies of Isaiah that they shall turn their swords into plowshares. Keeping a dietary code—Kosher—is a principal reason why the Jewish people were able to survive as a people for thousands of years. Today, an awareness of natural foods is spreading in the Jewish community, and dietary heritage is being rediscovered. Healthful, traditionally prepared, largely vegetarian food is known as eco-kosher. See Daniel, Diabetes, Middle Eastern Diet.
• Traditional Teachings - In a study of diet and Judaism, a Hassidic teacher explores traditional Jewish teachings on healing and diet in the Bible, Talmud, Kabbalah, Maimonides, and the Hassidic teachings of Rebbe Nachman.
Source: Avraham Greenbaum, The Wings of the Sun, Breslov Research Institute, 1995.
• Jesus’s Way of Eating - Jesus’s way of eating—bread, fish, and vegetables—was essentially macrobiotic, and his teachings show a deep understanding of food and the relationship between heavenly and earthly nourishment. In a study of the Gospel of Thomas and other teachings of Jesus, two educators explore diet in Judaism and early Christianity and describe the use of the term “makrobios” by the council of rabbis in the Septuagint in the 4th century B.C.E.
Source: Michio Kushi and Alex Jack, The Gospel of Peace, (Tokyo and New York: Japan Publications, 1992).
• Columbus’s Jewish Heritage and the Role of Diet in the Discovery of America - In a study of Christopher Columbus, a holistic teacher surveys Jewish and Christian dietary practices during the Spanish Inquisition, Colum-bus’s probable Jewish origins, and the dietary conquest of America, as well as an interpretation of the story of Noah’s ark in the Bible.
Source: Alex Jack, Profiles in Oriental Diagnosis, Vol. I (Becket, MA: One Peaceful World Press, 1995).
In 1713 Japanese physician Ekiken Kaibara recommended a balanced diet to protect against chronic disease. “A person should prefer light, simple meals. One must not eat a lot of heavy, greasy, rich food. One should also avoid uncooked, chilled, or hard food. . . . Of everything one eats and drinks, the most important thing is rice, which must be eaten in ample amounts to ensure proper nutrition . . . . Bean paste has a soft quality and is good for the stomach and intestines.”
Source: Ekiken Kaibara, Yojokun: Japanese Secret of Good Health (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1974).
Kale is a dark, green leafy vegetable with tight, curly leaves and a hard, fibrous stalk. It has a full, sweet taste, cooks up very tender, and gives strong energy. Especially beneficial to the liver and gallbladder, kale is an excellent source of calcium and iron, creates strong bones and teeth, and helps prevent osteoporosis. See Macular Degeneration, Vegetables.
• Medicinal Uses - In traditional Far Eastern medicine, kale is made into a juice which helps dissolve heavy, stagnant protein, fat, and cholesterol deposits and relieve liver disorders. Chopped and mashed into a Chlorophyll Plaster, it is good for cooling down fever or neutralizing inflammation.
Source: Michio Kushi, Basic Home Remedies (Becket, MA: One Peaceful World Press, 1994).
• Kale Higher in Calcium Than Milk - Researchers from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, reported that the calcium in kale is readily absorbed by the body and more efficiently than the calcium contained in milk. In studies of 11 women, the absorption of calcium from 300 mg. of kale averaged .409, while from a similar amount of milk calcium absorption averaged .321.
“We interpret our findings as evidence of good bioavailability for kale calcium and probably for the loss of low-oxalate vegetable greens as well,” the researchers concluded. Other greens they listed included broccoli, turnip, mustard, and collard greens.
Source: Robert P. Heaney and Connie M. Weaver, “Calcium Absorption from Kale,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 51: 656-57, 1990.
Kidney stones are hard, stony masses that form in the urinary tract and may cause pain, infection, bleeding, or obstruction of urination. Stones are composed primarily of calcium and vary from invisible to normal sight to 1 inch in diameter. Every year about 1 of every 1000 adults is hospitalized in the U.S. because of kidney stones. A high level of oxalate in the urine from foods such as spinach, rhubarb, cocoa, pepper, nuts, and tea may contribute to calcium stone formation. See Vegetables.
• Dietary Approach to Kidney Stones - Increase of fiber and reduction of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and animal protein significantly reduced the excretion of calcium, oxalate, and uric acid in the urine. Researchers recommended this dietary approach as a way of treating and managing kidney stones.
Source: P. N. Rao et al., “Dietary Management of Urinary Risk Factors in Renal Stone Formers,” British Journal of Urology 54:578-83, 1982.
Kombu, a large, thick sea vegetable of the kelp family, cooks up dark green and has a mild taste and firm texture. It strengthens the blood, eliminates toxic wastes (including radioactivity) from the body, and as a food or compress can help prevent and reduce tumors, especially those of the breast. See Breast Cancer, Infertility, Nuclear Radiation, Sea Vegetables.
• Anticancer Effect - Japanese scientists reported that several varieties of kombu and mojaban, common sea vegetables eaten in Asia and traditionally used as a decoction for cancer in Chinese herbal medicine, were effective in the treatment of tumors in laboratory experiments. In three of four samples tested, inhibition rates in mice with implanted sarcomas ranged from 89 to 95 percent. The researchers reported that “the tumor underwent complete regression in more than half of the mice of each treated group.” Similar experiments on mice with leukemia showed promising results.
Source: I. Yamamoto et al., “Antitumor Effect of Seaweeds,” Japanese Journal of Experimental Medicine 44:543-46, 1974.
Kuzu root powder, the principal starch in Far Eastern and macrobiotic cooking, is used to make sauces, thicken casseroles, and add body to desserts and special dishes. It is also used to make medicinal remedies such as ume-sho-kuzu tea (made with umeboshi plum shoyu, and bancha twig tea). In the U.S. its vine grows prolifically and is known as kudzu. The subject of current medical research, kuzu is high in genistein and daidzein, isoflavones that have strong antitumor effects. See Isoflavones.
• Medicinal Use - In his book on home remedies, macrobiotic educator Michio Kushi describes the traditional use of kuzu to help balance energy and presents recipes for various medicinal drinks.
Source: Michio Kushi, Basic Home Remedie (Becket, MA: One Peaceful World Press, 1995).
• History East and West - Two foods researchers recount the history of kuzu, how it came to the West, and its practical uses, including recipes.
Source: Bill Shurtleff and Aikiko Aoyagi, The Book of Kudzu, (Garden City Park, N.Y.: Avery, 1985).
• Kuzu Reduces Cravings for Alcohol - Kuzu has been used for millennia in China to treat alcohol abuse or lower the desire for alcohol. Researchers reported that kuzu has active ingredients that reduced alcohol consumption by 50 percent in laboratory experiments. “In all cases, the medications were considered effective in both controlling and suppressing appetite for alcohol and improving the functions of the alcohol-affected vital organs,” noted Dr. Wing-Ming Keung, co-director of the study at Harvard Medical School. In a more recent study, researchers identified two isoflavones, daidzin and daidzein, in kuzu that produced this effect.
Source: “Chinese Herb Remedy Curbs Alcohol Desire,” New York Times, November 2, 1993; W. M. Keung and B. L. Vallee, “Kudzu Root: An Ancient Chinese Source of Modern Antidipsotropic Agents,” Phytochemistry 47(4):499-506, 1998.
Lentils, small green or red pulses traditionally eaten in South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, are increasingly popular as part of a healthy diet. High in nutrients, lentils are a main source of protein in many cultures. High in calcium, iron, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber, they help strengthen digestion, circulation, and the nervous system. See Beans, Complex Carbohydrates.
• Lentils Improve Colonic Function - Canadian researchers reported that adding lentils to the standard North American diet increased fecal weight, reduced urine nitrogen, and improved colonic function.
Source: A. M. Stephen, “Effect of Green Lentils on Colonic Function, Nitrogen Balance, and Serum Lipids in Healthy Human Subjects,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 62(6):1261-67, 1995.
• Lentils Contribute to Controlling Childhood Diarrhoea - Persistent diarrhoea is a leading cause of death in the Third World. In Pakistan, researchers reported that a nutritional therapy including khitchri, a traditional rice-lentil dish, enabled 217 of 261 children aged 6 to 36 months with this condition to recover successfully.
Source: Z. A. Bhutta et al., “Factors Determining Recovery During Nutritional Therapy of Persistent Diarrhoea,” Acta Paediatrica 86(8):796-802, 1997.
• Lentils Reduce Risk of Esophageal Cancer - A study in the Caspian littoral of Iran, an area of high esophageal cancer, associated this disease with lower intake of lentils and other pulses, cooked green vegetables, and other whole foods.
Source: H. Hormozdiari et al., “Dietary Factors and Esophageal Cancer in the Caspian Littoral of Iran,” Cancer Research 35:3493-98, 1975.
Leukemia is cancer of the blood. Acute lymphoctic leukemia (ALL), the most prevalent childhood type, accounts for 25 percent of all cancers in young people under age 15. Dietary and nutritional factors, as well as exposure to chemicals in the environment, appear to underlie many cases. See Nuclear Radiation, Whole Grains.
• High Caloric Intake In one of the first studies of the relationship between diet and leukemia, researchers found a strong correlation between total caloric intake and both lymphoid and total leukemia incidence, especially among males. “The findings from this rigorous analysis of international data strengthen and expand the hypothesis based on previous simple correlation analyses and animal experiments that an underlying biological relationship exists between diet, particularly energy intake, and international variations in the incidence of certain types of human leukemia.”
Source: S. D. Hursting et al., “Diet and Human Leukemia: An Analysis of International Data,” Preventive Medicine 22:409-22, 1993.
• Soy Inhibits Leukemia - Genistein, a nutrient found in miso, tempeh, tofu, and other soybean products, may help prevent leukemia. Researchers at the University of Minnesota reported that in laboratory experiments, genistein killed all the detectable cells of B-cell precursor or BCP leukemia, the most common childhood cancer and the second most common adult acute leukemia.
Source: F. M. Uckun et al., “Biotherapy of B-Cell Precursos Leukemia by Targeting Genistein to CD19-Associated Tyrosine Kinases,” Science 267(5199):886-91, 1995.
• Hots Dogs Increase Risk of Leukemia - Children who eat hot dogs 12 or more times a month are 11 times more likely to develop leukemia than children who do not eat hot dogs, according to a University of Southern California study. Risks dropped with reduced hot dog consumption, but were still higher than those who ate no hot dogs.
Source: "Hazardous Hot Dogs?" Family Life, March/April 1995.
A family of phytochemicals that act as antioxidants and inhibit the formation of free radicals, thereby helping to prevent tumor formation. A type of phytoestrogen, lignans are found naturally in whole grains and grain products, seeds, and berries. Flaxseed is one of the highest sources of lignans.
The liver regulates many of the body’s digestive, circulatory, and excretory functions. Its many operations include filtering toxins from the blood; making and transporting bile; governing cholesterol metabolism; controlling blood sugar levels; converting carbohydrates, fat, and protein into one another; manufacturing hormones and enzymes; and creating proteins, especially those needed for the blood to clot.
In Oriental medicine, the liver governs the blood and liver troubles are commonly involved with miscarriage, menstrual troubles, and menopause, as well as leukemia, lymphoma, and other circulatory disorders. The liver meridian runs through the cervix or prostate, the throat, and the eyes and is often involved with disorders in these regions.
Barley, wheat, and rye are especially nourishing to the liver, as are almost all vegetables, including green leafy vegetables, the cabbage family, and many roots. A sour taste nourishes this organ, including lemon, lime, vinegar, miso, pickles, and sour apples. See Alochol, Cholesterol, Fat, Five Transformations, Hepatitis.
Longevity is traditionally associated with a balanced diet, hard work, and a calm, peaceful mind. In addition to a proper balance of nutrients and energy, thorough chewing and eating a small volume of food prolong life and health. See Japanese Diet, Mizuno Namboku, Tarahumara, Wheat, Yellow Emperor’s Classic, Women’s Health.
• Caloric Restricted Diet- In longevity experiments, scientists reported that mice fed a calorie-restricted diet lived an average of 55 months compared to 36 months for rodents allowed to eat as much as they wished.
“The outcome of calorie restriction is spectacular,” said Richard Weindruch, a gerontologist at the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Md. “Gerontologists have tried many things to extend life span, but this is the only one that consistently works in the lab.”
Experiments showed that the restricted diet prevented heart disease, diabetes, and kidney failure, retarded all types of cancer, eliminated or forestalled cataracts, gray hair, and feebleness, protected the genes against environmental insult, kept important enzymes operating at peak efficiency, and cut back on dangerous metabolic byproducts in the body.
Walford himself follows a low-calorie diet of about 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day, including primarily grains, vegetables, and other natural foods.
Source: Natalie Angier, “Diet Offers Tantalizing Clues to Long Life,” New York Times, April 17, 1990.
Lung cancer is the most common cancer in both sexes in the United Sates. Fifteen percent of lung-cancer deaths in the U.S. occur in nonsmokers, and diet has been related to increased rates of this disease both in those who smoke and those who refrain from smoking. Exposure to asbestos, radiation, heavy metals, chemicals, and other toxins, as well as radon, are also linked to higher risk. See Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Eggs, Fruit, Smoking, Vegetables, Watercress, Women’s Health.
• Diet Reduces Risk of Lung Cancer - In a study of 413 lung cancer patients, researchers found that consumption of vegetables and fresh fruits significantly reduced the risk of developing the disease. Susan Taylor Mayne, an epidemiologist at Yale University School of Medicine, estimated that nonsmokers could reduce their risk by 40 percent by simply adding one-and-a-half servings of vegetables or fruits to their daily diet. The consumption of whole milk, meanwhile, increased the risk of lung cancer.
Source: Susan Taylor Mayne, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, January 5, 1994.
• Dairy Increases Lung Cancer Risk - In a case control study of 308 men with lung cancer and 504 controls, Swedish researchers reported that higher consumption of milk increased risk of the disease in both smokers and nonsmokers. Lower vegetable intake also raised the risk. There was no significant risk for the disease among light to moderate smokers.
Source: R. Rylander et al., “Lung Cancer, Smoking and Diet Among Swedish Men,” Lung Cancer 14 (Supplement 1):S75-83, 1996.
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that affects the connective tissue, joints, and tendons. Ninety percent of sufferers of this painful affliction are young women in their late teens or early twenties. Like other arthritic conditions, proper diet may help control or relieve symptoms.
• Low-Fat Diet Benefits Lupus - In laboratory studies, a low-calorie, low-fat diet benefited mice with lupus. A researcher at the University of Florida theorized that limiting animal fat and protein, especially from beef, pork, lamb, and dairy food, would have similar effects in humans.
Source: L. C. Corman, “The Role of Diet in Animal Models of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Possible Implications for Human Lupus,” Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism 15:61-69, 1985.
Lymphoma, or cancer of the lymphatic system, includes Hodgkin’s disease, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In both types, white-blood cells known as lymphocytes become malignant and can affect a single lymph node or spread throughout the body to other organs. See Breast-feeding, Prenatal Nutrition, Water, Whole Grains.
• Red Meat Raises Risk of Lymphoma - In a study of 35,156 women aged 55 to 69, Iowa researchers found that those who ate more than 36 servings of red meat per month were about twice as likely to contract lymphoma as women who ate meat fewer than 22 times per month. "The findings support what the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health are saying," James R. Cerhan, a researcher at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, said. "Cut back on red meat, cut back on saturated fat, and increase fruits and vegetables in the diet."
Source: B. C. Chiu et al., “Diet and Risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Older Women,” Journal of the American Medical Association 275(17):1315-21, 1996.
• Dairy Linked to Lymphoid Cancers, Whole Grains Protective - In a case-control study in Italy, researchers found that high milk intake was associated with an 80 to 90 percent higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and soft tissue sarcomas. Ham and liver intake were linked to higher risk of Hodgkin’s disease, while butter increased the risk of myelomas almost three times. Whole grain and vegetables were protective for many lymphoid cancers.
Source: A. Tavani et al., “Diet and Risk of Lymphoid Neoplams and Soft Tissue Sarcomas,” Nutrition and Cancer 27(3):256-60, 1997.