Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
“Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I am not sure how or why I became interested in healthy living. My upbringing would not have suggested it. The only thing I can think of is that it must have been through reading. During college I began a daily running routine. The first time I ran, barely making a mile, I came home coughing, wheezing, coughing up phlegm.
Several years later, in 1977, Jim Fixx’s The Complete Book of Running came out and I got serious. Eventually I worked up to my current practice of jogging five miles a day. I’ve since added some weight training.
My first experiments in improving my diet involved making a breakfast drink of brewers yeast and milk. In 1987 Fit For Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond became a big hit. Based on the principles of Natural Hygiene, which is one of the raw food branches covered in this book, the Diamonds encouraged eating lots of fruit on an empty stomach, eating live high-water content foods, and proper food combining (an example would be not eating a protein and a carbohydrate together in one meal). I read the book and tried to follow its teachings. The end result was that ever since then I have always eaten fruit for breakfast.
Two years later, the Juiceman, Jay Kordich, came through town telling his story of how juicing raw fruits and vegetables saved him from cancer. I heard him on the radio and promptly bought a juice machine. I didn’t stop at one juicer; I kept buying them until I was convinced I had the best one. I juiced carrots everyday for about ten years. (I also forced carrot juice on my kids, with uncertain results, although all three are health-conscious now and my oldest daughter juices for my grandchildren.)
I was getting the message about health everywhere I turned. Still in the late 80’s I met a woman well beyond seventy years old. She looked years younger and told me of her thirty year old boyfriend who could not keep up with her. She said that yoga was her secret. So I started doing yoga. She also told me to read John Robbins’s, Diet for a New America. The book tells of the horrors of the meat and dairy industry and advocates a vegan diet.
So convincing was the book that I became a vegetarian for one year. My daughter Gina became one permanently. I desperately wanted to stop eating animals and dairy products but I did not have the will power. I felt guilty about the slaughtering of animals but my desire for hamburgers was greater. I knew that the animal food industry was a significant polluter of our environment. Still, I couldn’t make myself change my diet.
“Transformation is through the body, not away from it.”
For nearly twenty years I did not make any more health changes. I ran every day, I ate my fruits and vegetables, I was very conscious of what I put into my mouth. I should have been very healthy. I was doing much better than the average American, I thought. And then I went for a physical and the doctor told me, practically with glee in his voice, that my cholesterol was 242.
How can this be? “Doc, I eat healthy foods, I run.” To which he replied, “It’s probably your genes. If you can’t get your cholesterol down by changing your diet we’ll have to put you on Lipitor.”
Oh my God, you have got to be kidding me. I am not taking a pill. There is no way I am going on a drug. Putting a foreign substance into my body is not natural. Lipitor may make my cholesterol level go down, but will it make me healthier? If I don’t change my diet, have I really made things better or have I just masked the problem? It seems to me that drug companies make a lot of money and all you get is the false sense of security that you have done something when in reality you haven’t. Eliminating the symptom doesn’t get rid of the cause.
Meanwhile, my vegetarian daughter Gina informed me that she and her husband were “going raw.”
“What do you mean? You’re not eating cooked foods anymore? Gina, I’ve always admired you for not eating meat, but this is crazy. What will you eat?” I forget what she said but I walked away thinking that she had gone too far. I knew I shouldn’t have made her drink carrot juice.
A month later I saw her and my son-in-law Stephen—they were literally glowing. I could not believe it. They were radiating health. Now I was interested. I asked her for a book on this raw food stuff (of course, I need a book) and she gave me Victoria Boutenko’s Green for Life. I read the book, fooled around for a bit with green smoothies and salads, but then gave it up. I could not stop eating hamburgers, and French fries, and pizza, and ice cream, and you name it. I’ll live with the high cholesterol. I run five miles a day, there is no way I can have heart disease. I decided to take my chances—but the seed had been planted.
In the spring of 2007 I came down with a cold that just wouldn’t go away. Finally I went to a doctor for an antibiotic to put an end to it. The nurse took my blood pressure. “Your blood pressure is 160 over 100.” She tried my other arm. Just as bad. Now I have high blood pressure along with the cholesterol.
That was it. There was no longer any denying that given all that I was doing for my health I still had problems. Since I refused to start taking pills I decided I had to do something. I began reading and everything I read pointed to “going raw.”
In the beginning it wasn’t even about being raw that got me thinking and motivated. Three books ended up on my desk. They were about how to make changes, how the food industry in America works, and the ethics of eating animals. So before I even began the process of trying to eat raw foods, in all its wisdom, the universe gave me a few tools to turn away from a cooked, animal-based diet and taught me about how to go about making these changes.
Changing For Good, by James Prochaska, John Norcross, and Carlo Diclemente, explained to me that change is a process; it does not come all at once through will power. There are stages of change. We move little by little. Change involves consciousness-raising, finding alternatives to old behaviors, expressing and accessing feelings and emotions, taking action, enjoying the rewards of change, and helping relationships. There is a reasonable way to go about making changes.
And then I found myself reading Michael Pollan’s bestseller The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Here I discovered how many of our food attitudes and beliefs are controlled and influenced by big business interests. We as a country suffer from a national eating disorder and it is fueled by the marketing of corporations and their influence over the legislative process through lobbyists. We don’t eat what we would naturally eat, we eat what we have been manipulated into eating.
The book that kicked me over the edge into action was The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. I was confronted with the impact of my food choices and how they affected people, animals, and the planet. Singer and Mason describe the incredible cruelty that factory farming inflicts on the animals we eat. They reveal the lengths that the food industry goes to hide what actually goes on in those farms. Most alarming of all was the destruction to the environment caused by the food industry and the amount of natural resources consumed. (If Americans gave up eating animals the oil saved would be like taking every car in America off the road.) By this time, my emotions had joined what I knew in my head. I was ready to change.
Now I was ready to begin reading and experimenting with the raw food diet. I did more than experiment; I used the skills that I acquired in getting my doctorate to research what was out there on becoming a “raw fooder.” There are numerous people promoting various programs for eating a raw, living-foods diet, and many of them don’t agree. I soon found that I needed to determine who was helpful and who wasn’t. I needed to find out what was scientifically based and what was out there in la-la land.
I read everything I could get my hands on. To me, this was a life and death situation. I wanted the truth. I wanted to discount what was motivated by what people were selling; and people do have products to sell even in the raw food movement. I went to the Raw Spirit Festival in Sedona and saw first hand enough marketing and contradictory approaches to health to make my head hurt. (I had to escape and have a burger late at night when no one was looking.)
Ultimately, I had to write a book so that I could put all that I learned in one place and get my thoughts around what was the best approach to getting my health back. I am totally convinced that eating raw food is the way to go. Does that mean going 100 percent as most advocate? That is something you have to decide. I’ve tried to assemble the best of what is out there in this book. And I’ve tried to point out the best that each person has to offer. The answers to life’s challenges are not black and white. I think an eclectic approach works best; why not take what makes sense to you from everything that is out there. That is what I have done here. I’ve tried to find the common thread that runs through all the approaches to raw food. I hope it works for you.
This book is the result of what I found out as I made a serious commitment to change my diet, to change my thoughts about food, and to change my mind about what it is to live a healthy life. In the following chapters I take from all the many books I read and all the experimenting I did and try to give to you a simple guide to beginning a raw food journey. I’ve tried to inspire and motivate so you don’t have to be on your deathbed saying, “Geez, I really wish I had taken better care of myself.”
Eating more raw foods can save your life, give you more energy than you ever dreamed, and if you learn how to make some of the cacao recipes, you will certainly smile a whole lot more than you ever did. I know I do.
Books to Get You Motivated:
The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. 2006. Rodale (Holtzbrinck Publishers).
Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. 2003. Little, Brown and Company.
The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World, by John Robbins. 2001. Conari Press.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan. 2006. The Penguin Press.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
When I was leaving, several people saw me with the bowl and asked if I had made the spaghetti. I said yes. They wanted the recipe. They loved it! So, here is a video of how I made it that day.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I enjoyed the simplicity and inspiration of Boutenko’s first book so much that I decided to give her raw food book a try. Not that I was intending to become a raw food person, but I was interested in improving my eating habits. One doesn’t have to give up cooked foods entirely to benefit from including more raw foods in their diet.
The subtitle of her book is How to End Your Dependency on Cooked Food. It is kind of like a 12 step program for food abusers. And most of us, whether we know it or not, do eat food the way addicts consume drugs and alcohol. If you don’t believe me, try giving up cooked foods cold turkey for a day and see how fast you start craving your favorite cooked foods, any cooked foods.
I think I was in a good place to begin considering incorporating more raw foods into my life. I knew I needed to lose some weight. I knew from going to my doctor for a physical that my cholesterol was high. And I wanted more energy in my life. Besides, I had seen what it was doing for my daughter and son-in-law.
Part one of Boutenko’s book is about how cooking food destroys nutrients and increases the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. She explains how cooking creates advanced glycoxidation end products (AGEs), very toxic molecules that get absorbed by the body and do such nasty things as stiffen muscles (including the heart), reduce flexibility in tendons and ligaments, cause inflammation, and speed up the aging process.
In part two of her book Victoria discusses how we have become addicted to food. We have become dependent on processed cereals and breads, pasteurized drinks, grilled meats and fish. I was amazed at how little I was eating was not a living food anymore. Salad and fruit and that’s about it for most of us, and those are only side aspects of our diets. Our main meals are almost always cooked foods.
These days I have to laugh to myself when I hear someone describe to me their healthy diets. They’ll say “I have hot oatmeal for breakfast with berries on top. Then I have a chicken salad for lunch and fish with rice for dinner.” Or something like that. I say to myself, don’t they understand that the oatmeal is cooked to a mush, the chicken is filled with antibiotics, and the fish is most likely farmed and they have antibiotics (along with other things), too? Of course, the rice is cooked to death. What makes all of this even more frustrating is that the so-called nutrition experts on television reinforce this fake healthy diet.
The idea that eating cooked food is an addiction is a major contribution to understanding how to improve our dietary habits. No one would think that the typical diet is an addiction, but try to go one day without cooked foods and you will see what I mean. This is a very important point that should not be missed. Cooked foods are an addiction, just as powerful cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and relationships can be. Knowing this will help you to make healthier food choices.
When I began adding raw foods to my diet it was not the raw food that caused me any problems. The more recipes I tried the more fun I had. My smoothies were delicious. My salads and the interesting dressings that my daughter gave me were totally satisfying. And the mock tuna salad, the flaxseed crackers, and cauliflower “mash potatoes” tasted wonderful. But even with all of these foods, and not being hungry at all, I still wanted to have something cooked at the end of the day, even if it was only a piece of toast and butter.
Victoria does argue that just like an alcoholic we should give up cooked foods entirely, that it is actually easier in the long run. And I think that for some people that would be the way to go. I cannot do this. I don’t think I could bring myself to the point where I would never ever want a hamburger again. I may not eat one but for me knowing that if I really want cooked food I can have it without feeling guilty is important to my sense of freedom. After all, I am trying to be reasonably, rationally, and realistically raw, not absolutely raw.
You may be thinking at this point that the analogy that food is addictive is helpful, but a little of an exaggeration. Well, Victoria points out in her book that plenty of research shows that cooked foods contain opioid peptides that reach the opiate receptors in our nervous systems. These opioid peptides are particularly present in dairy products, meats, poultry, and fish. (Another reason to eat a vegan diet.) Believe it or not, cooked foods are at least somewhat physically addictive.
12 Steps to Raw Foods
Here are Boutenko’s 12 steps to transitioning to a raw food diet. I have altered them a little, adding some of my own observations and trying to be brief. I recommend reading the book itself.
1. Become aware that you do have an addiction to cooked foods. Be honest. Can you get through a day without cooked foods and not feel those cravings? Try it.
2. Add healthy foods to your diet; don’t think about giving anything up and depriving yourself. Many of our food cravings come because we do not get enough nutrients. Add a green smoothie and a large salad to your diet. Greens are the most nutritious foods on the planet.
3. Learn how to prepare raw food recipes. Get some raw cookbooks. Ask around for good ideas on what to eat. Find out what other people do. Get the tools for make raw foods. Buy a good blender and dehydrator. You probably already have a food processor.
4. Don’t judge yourself or others for not eating raw foods. Take the pressure off yourself, family, and friends. Have fun. Think of this as adding something to your life, not taking anything away.
5. Avoid temptations. For me this means not keeping cooked foods in the house and not going out to eat very often. I can’t help it; if it is in the house I will most likely eat it, so if I don’t want cooked foods I don’t buy them. It’s the same with restaurants. You can only order salad so many times a week. I also find that I am a lot less tempted on a stomach full of my green smoothie. If you are going somewhere where you know you will be tempted—eat first.
6. Get support. The encouragement and ideas from my daughter Gina have helped me every step of the way. I could not have made the changes to my diet without her support and help. Support also comes from reading books, raw web sites, newsletters, and attending festivals.
7. Gratitude and forgiveness. Be thankful for learning about this healthy way of living. We may slip at times, but at least we are on the path. We know about raw foods, most people are not even aware of what they are doing to their bodies by eating cooked food all the time. Forgiveness is essential, too. It is hard to make the right choices when we hold grievances against other people…and ourselves.
8. Actualize your dreams. Your life is going to change. You are going to feel happier than you have ever felt before. You will have more energy and need less sleep. Now you can live your dreams. And the best dreams are those that give back to others.
9. Utilize other healthy practices. Exercise is essential. Move your body. Run, walk, do yoga, swim, incorporate some form of exercise into your daily routine. Get some sunshine.
10. Gain clarity. Spend time with yourself just being aware. Meditate, read; learn to live in the present moment.
11. Find your mission in life. True happiness comes from helping others. Discover what you are meant to do. Where is your passion? What is it that truly gets you excited? Almost every person I know who begins eating a raw vegan diet finds a new sense of spirituality in his or her lives. What does this mean for you?
12. Give support to others. When you help others you are helping yourself. Every time you share what you have learned, you learn it all over again only better. Your life becomes so much richer. We can’t live a healthy lifestyle alone.
I met Victoria and her daughter at the Raw Spirit Festival in Arizona in 2007. Victoria gave an inspiring talk on how she discovered the benefits of green smoothies. Her daughter Valya was working on a raw food documentary and we talked about how different people experienced healing from various illnesses. I also attended a food preparation demonstration given by Victoria’s son Sergei. The children are adults now and were looking quite healthy.
I learned from Victoria Boutenko early on in my raw food journey the importance of adding healthy raw foods to my diet and not to think of this as giving up foods that I loved. I would not have taken the first step had someone told me that I had to give up cooked foods all together. But I could make a green smoothie, and by experimenting they became so enjoyable I had to keep myself from drinking them too fast.
By eating more green leafy vegetables my body became more nourished and being more nourished desired less and less of the junk food and animal foods that I was used to eating. Slowly my tastes we changing. A raw food diet didn’t sound quite so strange.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Victoria Boutenko and Green Smoothies
My daughter Gina and son-in-law Steven had been eating raw for several months and I had seen the difference it was making in their health. I asked Gina to recommend a book to get me started in all of this and she suggested two books by Victoria Boutenko, 12 Steps to Raw Foods and Green For Life. The Green For Life book was shorter and had a more interesting cover so I picked that one. It turns out that that book was the ideal place for me to begin.
Green For Life by Boutenko is not about giving up cooked foods and only eating raw; it is not about giving up anything, only adding green smoothies to one’s daily diet. While I wanted to get healthy, as were my children, I did not want to give up my hamburgers and french fries.
Boutenko and her family started eating raw foods back in 1993 when they all were experiencing major health problems at the same time. Victoria herself weighted 280 pounds and suffered from arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Her husband had hyperthyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and a constant heartbeat of more than 140. Her daughter Valya had asthma and allergies. And her son Sergei was just diagnosed with diabetes. It was the thought of insulin shots and the eventual side-effects (kidney and eyesight failure) that pushed Victoria over the edge. She searched everywhere for an alternative for her son.
Several months later she found out about raw foods from a woman who claimed to be cured of cancer twenty years ago by changing her diet. This was enough for Victoria and after overcoming her husband’s initial resistance (he refused to give up eating his meat and potatoes until his doctors told him that he needed to have his thyroid removed, otherwise he would die—he decided to try raw foods instead) she threw out all of their cooked and processed food and the whole family ate only raw food from then on.
Obviously it was not easy going cold turkey, but the seriousness of their illnesses was a great motivator and they have continued to eat only raw food ever since. Victoria has written several books about her experience, all of which I highly recommend. Which brings us back to Green For Life.
While eating raw foods is a good thing, it is not easy to transition into, of course, unless you and your family are facing life and death health issues. Most of us are not motivated enough to give up the foods we have enjoyed all our lives. While I certainly wanted to enjoy the health that I was seeing my daughter achieve, I did not want to change my diet all that much. And that is why I feel that I was fortunate to begin my raw food journey with the Green For Life book.
Green For Life is not about giving up anything. It is about making one simple addition to your diet—a green smoothie. The Boutenko family had been raw for about ten years but they began to experience a plateau. While their old illnesses never returned, they felt that they could be healthier.
Victoria began researching. She wanted to find out if there was anything missing from her raw diet that could make a difference. Her search led her to investigate the eating habits of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. Chimpanzees share more than 99 percent of our DNA sequence. Believing that humans have lost their natural way of eating, maybe chimpanzees could point her back in the right direction.
It turns out that a chimp diet in the wild consists of roughly 50 percent fruits, 40 percent greens, 7 percent seeds, nuts, pith, and bark, and about 3 percent insects. This was not how the Boutenko family and most other raw foodists were eating. Many people in the raw food movement tend to eat fewer greens and more nuts, seeds, and oils.
(Boutenko also discovered that chimpanzees mostly feed on fruit in the morning, take a nap or play, then eat mostly greens in the afternoon. They stop eating for the day by late afternoon. This is a pattern that I am sure would benefit most of us. I found it interesting that I had without thinking fallen into a similar pattern, eating fruits for breakfast and having most of my greens in a salad as part of dinner.)
Once Victoria understood the importance of getting more greens into her diet the problem became how to do it. Just chewing them would be a lot of work. Besides the fact that they require being ground into a creamy consistency to become absorbable by the body, many people have low levels of hydrochloric acid in their stomachs. Nutrients cannot be assimilated without both thorough chewing and a stomach pH level of between 1 and 2. Years of eating processed foods make this pH level unlikely. Also, as we age our bodies produce less hydrochloric acid.
Instead of trying to eat large quantities of greens Victoria experimented with “chewing” them in a blender. Initial results were disastrous. The smell and taste were just too nasty. However, she tried adding some bananas to the mixture and the fruit changed everything. Her first green smoothies consisted of one bunch of kale, four bananas, and a quart of water. She and her family loved them.
The result was impressive. They all began to see a difference. Boutenko claims that wrinkles disappeared, her nails became stronger, her vision improved, her energy increased and she felt lighter than she had in years. For weeks Victoria lived on nothing but green smoothies. She stopped craving fatty foods and salt. In the end she lost all cravings for unhealthy foods.
That was my introduction to raw foods. As you can see, it was not about giving up anything that I was eating. I simply added the green smoothie to my diet. For me this was easy. For years I ate only fruit for breakfast, knowing that it is best to eat fruit on an empty stomach, otherwise it tends to ferment behind other slow moving food.
Several years ago I bought a Vita-Mixer blender. This high power machine is an essential kitchen appliance for the health conscious human. I knew that blending ruptures plant cells at the microscopic level, making them more available for digestion and absorbable. I soon was making fruit smoothies every day for breakfast. Now all I had to do was adjust the fruit a little and add greens.
My original green smoothies were simple: two cups of water, four bananas, a handful of kale, and maybe some frozen blueberries or whatever else was in the house. I could never taste the kale. Spinach and romaine lettuce is pretty tasteless, too. Other lettuce may change the fruity flavor so I mostly stuck to the kale, romaine, and spinach.
Now, here is the good part. While not trying hard to give up eating meats and fish I slowly began to lose interest in them. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to eat hamburgers anymore; it was simply that they were less attractive by about a half. I didn’t want fried food as much either. At this point I was by no means a raw food person or advocate. I just began to feel a little better and the whole experience made me more interested in seeing what other improvements I could make to my diet without causing myself any pain or giving up favorite foods.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Trying to avoid cooked foods and stay raw on holidays and at dinner parties--for me--is probably impossible at this point in my life.But, it is possible to improve on past performance.
On the 4th of July my family has a huge picnic. With 10 brothers and sisters, on my mom's side, and all of them having kids, and their kids having kids, well, it's a big party. All the cousins are very close having grown up together. And everyone brings their specialty dishes.
My plan was simple. I filled myself up on fruit before going and I brought my superfood smoothie to drink once I got there. Then...let the potato chips fall where they lie. In the end I did have some barbecue chicken that my son made, some cake, and two hamburgers. Not bad compared to previous years.
Last night my friend Mike Ryan had a little dinner party at his beach cabana. Mark and Gerre were there, as were Mike's two dates, Susan and Christine. I just brought myself. There was another man there whom I don't recall his name. But I do remember his fixation on health care. I told him to change over to a raw food diet and he wouldn't have to worry about health care anymore.
In his invitation Mike assumed that I would bring something raw. I brought zucchini squash chips that I drizzled hot pepper sesame oil on and then stuffed in the dehydrator for a few hours.I also brought a dip for some of the chips that had no oil. I think everyone liked them because they were almost all gone by the end of the night.
The dip, or dressing (I use it as my favorite salad dressing) is made with:
2 cups of olive or flaxseed oil
2 TBS of Nama Shoyu or Soy Sauce
2 TBS of Tahini (raw if possible)
6 cloves of garlic
2 inches of ginger
2 the juice of 2 lemons
1/2 or more cup of nutritional yeast (most important ingredient)
Put everything into a blender until smooth. My daughter Gina gave me this recipe.
I came to the party after eating as much raw fruit and vegetables as I could so I wouldn't be hungry. That worked fairly well as I didn't do too bad. I did eat most of the my bowl of Mike's paella, I drank the wine that Mark and Gerre brought, and some other things. I think the health care guy brought bread...white bread. (He better keep thinking about health care.)
I will say this, we all spent the night laughing (and making trips to the john). I like raw food, reasonably, but I love my friends!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
“The art of conscious eating lies in creating an individualized diet that reflects and supports one’s realization of the highest state of awareness, as well as one’s need to function in the world of everyday life.”
Gabriel Cousens has an M.D., an M.D. (H), and a D.D. He is a psychiatrist, acupuncturist, Reiki Master, medical researcher, Ayurvedic practitioner, and author. He is also the founder and director of the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Arizona. Dr. Cousens has been a raw food vegan since 1983.
When it comes to the science of living foods and health there isn’t anyone more qualified to make statements and recommendations. Besides his medical background Cousens has spent numerous years studying spirituality with Indian teachers (both American Indian and Indian Indian), and he is an ordained Essene teacher.
Taking a medical doctor’s approach, Cousens search for extraordinary health begins with a close look at blood. He begins by drawing on the research performed by Antoine Bechamp in the early 1900’s, and concludes that the human body’s blood is not so much a liquid as it is a flowing tissue. Looking closer at this system Bechamp theorized that microscopic and colloidal elements, smaller than cells, were living in our bodies and fermenting sugar in our blood.
This microscopic digestion produced toxins, mycotoxins. These toxins are the forerunners of degenerative disease—illness. When the natural fermentation process speeds up due to excess sugar in the system these microzymas turn into bacteria, yeast, fungus, and mold. And that is when health degenerates.
Acid foods, along with acid thoughts, environmental toxins, lack of oxygen, all play a part in distorting what Cousens calls the “subtle organizing energy field.” This energy exists in the space between cells, which we know is relatively large. The body is continually recycling itself. In a healthy state this goes on undisturbed. But when fermentation begins, the body is essentially composting itself and a cycle of degeneration initiates and chronic disease gets a foothold.
Cousens teaches that a low-sweet, live-food, non-acidic diet can turn off the self-composting process. This means eliminating junk food, refined foods, and canned foods. We need to remove the causes of yeast and fungus. That means steroids, antibiotics, birth control pills, alcohol, and animal products. These acid-promoting foods create the conditions for mold and fungus to turn healthy blood into oxygen deprived clumps. Not a good system for delivering oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
In the end we are left with a greatly weakened immune system, a pre-cancerous condition, as Cousens writes. The results: allergies, fatigue, depression, anxiety, colds, poor mental capabilities, diabetes, heartburn, vaginal yeast infections, joint pain, asthma, food cravings.
There are certain foods that contain large quantities of mycotoxins and fungus. Anything with a high sugar content contributes to self-composting. Other foods are animal fats, dairy products, mushrooms, table salt, soy sauce, microwaved foods, saturated vegetable oils.
According to Cousens’ theory foods high in sugar should be avoided more than any other type of food. This includes not only processed white sugar but also fruits with a high glycemic index. Sugar substitutes such as corn sugar, sorbital, maple sugar, and honey are to be avoided. Fruits include melons, bananas, mangoes, pineapple, papaya, kiwi, and apricots. Dried fruits are high in sugar content. White flour, white rice, and white potatoes raise blood glucose. Apple juice is the most dangerous of all because it contains a mycotoxin that research shows to cause mammary tumors in mice.
The central concern of Cousens’ diet is to eliminate foods that stimulate the production of yeast, fungi, and molds. High sugar foods and fruit are at the top of the list, grains come in second. This is because they are stored for long periods of time and begin to ferment. Non-stored grains, such as quinoa, buckwheat, millet, spelt, and wild rice, are not a health hazard.
Grains are acid-forming, not a good thing. Grains also contain coarse non-soluble fiber, which while being good for adding bulk to the diet, is an irritant to the colon. Grain causes food to move too rapidly through the intestines, reducing nutrient absorption.
The flour used to bake many products has been sitting around for more than a year, breeding mold and fungus. And we know about the governments allowing a certain percentage of insect parts and rodent fecal matter.
Animal products are another breeding ground for mycotoxins. First, animals are fed fungally infected feed. Secondly, we know that meats and dairy acidify the blood. Third, meals consisting of animal products contain more than a million times the pathogenic microorganisms found in vegan meals.
Other foods high in mycotoxins and fungi are corn, peanuts, cashews, oats, yeast (baker’s yeast, brewers yeast, and nutritional yeast), caffeine, tobacco, and coffee. All cooked foods should be avoided.
Keep in mind that this composting process thrives on sugar, which drives our food cravings. While sugar is found in the obvious places like sweets and sweet fruits, processed flours and grains are easily converted into sugars. The fungus living in our bodies creates the food cravings that many of us suffer from. Eliminate the fungus and we eliminate the cravings.
The Optimal Diet
While no single diet is best for everyone there are key principles to healthy eating. First, eat organically grown food if at all possible. This will reduce consumption of genetically modified organisms and toxic chemicals. These foods contain more vitamins and minerals, taste better, and have more phytochemicals. They are also better for the environment. At Cousens’ Tree of Life Center they practice what is called Nature Farming, where they attempt to build the soil and compost exclusively with plant materials, modeling natural forests and prairies.
The second aspect of a healthy diet is that it restricts calories. There is a great deal of evidence showing that longevity is linked to living on significantly less calories than we are used to. This is bore out in the long living peoples such as the Hunzas, the Abkhasians, and the Vilcabamban Indians. They live on roughly half the calories of the typical American.
My first thought about this is that I’d have to starve myself and I’ll be hungry all the time. However, according to Cousens’ research, and others, the reason we consume the calories that we do is that cooking destroys more than 50 percent of the nutrients in our foods. So we crave more food, we have to eat more food to give our bodies what it needs. By switching to a live-food, raw diet, we will eat less because we will want less. This is one of the most significant reasons for converting as much of your diet to live-food as possible.
Finally, the optimal diet, according to the Cousens program, is primarily one that includes low-glycemic fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sea vegetables, and algae. Of course, these are all prepared without cooking. Low-glycemic fruits include blueberries, strawberries, goji berries, grapefruit, cherries, and lemons. Moderately glycemic fruits are allowed also, these include oranges, apples, peaches, pears, and plums. Fruits containing high quantities of sugar, such as melons, bananas, pineapple, grapes, mango, kiwi, and most dried fruits, should be avoided or eaten in moderation.
Vegetable fruits like avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini are good to eat along with all vegetables (especially green leafy ones), nuts and seeds, and sea vegetables (dulse, nori, kelp). Carrots are good, as well as fresh coconut (water and meat).
In Cousens’ tome Conscious Eating he offers his insights into a more spiritual approach to eating, health, and nutrition. He writes that conscious eating is being aware of how our food affects us holistically—body, mind, emotions, and spirit. We become aware of how our food choices affect other human beings, animals, and the entire planet. Conscious eating involves an awareness of the Divine.
Cousens’ approach to conscious eating expands nutritional awareness to include elements of the Hindu health care system known as Ayurveda, naturopathy, homeopathy, and acupuncture. Yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and other spiritual practices have a place in acquiring a more healthy way of eating.
Conscious eating is the act of individualizing one’s diet. Each of us, being unique, must find a diet that works for ourselves. There is no one diet that applies to everyone. Creating a diet that works for us is helped by trial-and-error, experimenting, using our intelligence, to find the foods and their combinations most helpful to healthful living. In presenting a broad range of the most successful raw food leaders, I have attempted in this book to provide a sampling so that you could be exposed to a number of paths to healthy eating and find one or more, or a combination, that is best suited to your needs.
It is helpful when considering our diet to honor not only the needs of our body, but also one that promotes a clear mind and unfettered spirit. We want a diet that is in harmony with nature, considerate of animals, and contributes to peace on the planet. Does it make sense to add to the misery of sentient beings, both human and animal? Can we expect health when we do this? We will reap what we sow, especially when it comes to food, such a basic element of life.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Climate Change and Diet
“Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”
Henning Steinfeld, senior UN FAO official
Did you know that according to a United Nations report issued in 2006 that cattle produce more global warming greenhouse gases than all the cars, trucks, airplanes, buses, and trains combined? Did you know that livestock now use up more than 30 percent of the planet’s entire land surface? And I bet you didn’t know that producing animal products is damaging the environment through land erosion by overgrazing, depletion of scarce fresh water sources, water pollution, and deforestation (South American rainforest to make American hamburgers)?
Methane is 50 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. Cows, 1.3 billion of them on the planet, produce more than 100 million tons of the stuff every year. This is the equivalent to 5 billion tons of CO2. Cows, being the ruminants that they are, break down their food by fermenting it. Every time a cow burps and farts, there you go, methane.
Eating animals contributes significantly to global warming. Eating animals contributes to the deforestation of our planet. Eating animals contributes to the destruction of farmland that could be used for feeding human beings. And eating animals contributes to the pollution of our waters. Is this a good reason to at least consider changing your diet?
The average person who consumes meats and dairy products requires 20 times the acreage of that of a vegan. The average non-vegan requires 100 times the amount of fresh water to raise the livestock that they will eat. Eating animals has become more than an ethical choice regarding cruelty to other sentient beings, it’s about destroying the planet that we live on.
If all of this were not enough, consider that two-thirds of all antibiotics in the United States are given to animals. This is necessary just to keep them alive long enough to get to the slaughterhouse after we have confined them for so long in our factory farms. The overuse of antibiotics is generating a new class of superbugs that are becoming resistant to antibiotics. What happens when antibiotics are no longer of any use?
If we in America stopped eating meat we would save enough food to feed the 60 million people who starve to death each year on this planet—ten times over! Granted, there are political problems to be overcome, but this gives you an idea of the food we are wasting.