macro-vegan-food-studio

MACROVegan for The World

MACROVegan for The World

Like many of you, I have a mission in life, and my mission requires me to have a lot of energy. Part of my mission is to entice as many people back into their kitchens and introduce them to the delicious and healthful benefits of eating an exclusively plant-based diet. My vegan lifestyle is based on eating wholegrains, beans, pulses, vegetables, sea vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and exercising my body. This lights my fire from dawn till dusk.

I am forever grateful to have been awakened at such a young age as to how to achieve the required energy I need daily to stay in tip-top condition. When we are at our best, we can give our best and I live, breathe and love my work. The truth doesn't change, a diet based on plants is the diet for health and longevity.

Firstly, the diversity and simplicity of eating this way are one of the easiest ways to excite and inspire people to get cooking with me.  Secondly, my focus is to encourage all who cross my path to start taking responsibility for their own health.  I must do more to help families out of these medical tragedies that Bill and I see month after month during health consultations with clients.

As a lover of animals, nature and life, I am in service for a healthy world for humans and non-humans alike.  I always have been, I always will be. I speak the truth, and, the truth will eventually prevail. Health and healing truly do start in your own kitchen.  There you have it. It’s that simple. My favourite chant below that I teach everyone will be inscribed on the wall at the cooking school at our MACROVegan Centre.

Food Makes the Blood

Blood Makes the Cells

Cells Makes the Tissue

Tissue Makes the Organs

And Here We Be!

For four decades, I have been involved in health and healing and have been in love with Traditional Chinese Medicine since I was a teenager.  Much to the amusement of my friends, I would discover ways to use different foods such as kelp seaweed and even harvested some seaweeds on an outdoor expedition at college. That was more than 40 years ago so I guess even as a ‘novice’ back then, ‘I knew what I knew’ without knowing what I now know about the huge benefits of sea vegetables. I seemed to be guided toward something different.

My love of fitness and health took me on a journey studying various aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Macrobiotics, based on the ‘5 transformations of energy’ and to this day I still teach Chiball & Yoga which is taught with these same principles.

For many years, I have been offering my ‘Living with the Seasons’ workshops in many countries around the globe and that is what truly lights my fire.  Working with the season’s energy makes so much sense you wonder why it isn’t taught in schools. It is one of the many reasons why I simply adore being a Macrobiotic Health Counsellor and Teacher. I combine my counselling skills with my certification in Plant Based Nutrition and teach all my students and clients this wonderful paradigm of ancient wisdom and modern science. Alongside the teaching and counselling, much of my time is spent being an activist for our beloved animal kingdom. That is what makes me jump out of bed each morning, other than my beloved husband.

I wanted to share with you all a big turning point in my life that happened 20 years ago. I had a bad accident that broke my back in three places. Of course, the medical profession was encouraging me to eat a lot of dairy food to stimulate bone growth and they recommended, as they still do, animal protein for bone health.  I needed my bones to heal and of course, I wanted to fuel my body with the best nutrient dense foods possible, but to do it my way. I knew the foods that I had always eaten that were most associated with bone health, were greens and sea vegetables, all loaded with calcium.  So, as you can imagine, I was going against the grain, so to speak. No animal foods for me thank you very much.

My wholefoods plant based diet and my magical Macrobiotic home remedies helped me to heal quickly, (much to my doctor’s amazement.) That allowed me to teach yoga and Chiball again much earlier than I could have imagined.  My adventure with food and healing my own body also inspired me to share what I learned with others. My book, ‘Macrobiotics for all Seasons’ was a joy to write as I documented and created the 200 recipes that I used as part of my incredible journey back to health.  The book is also used as a reference guide for our students and clients.

The Macrobiotic Health Coaching programme that I designed along with my husband Bill Tara, the co-founder of the Kushi Institute in Boston and founder of the Community Health Foundation in London in the 70’s. is my best work. We have had the most wonderful students graduate as Macrobiotic Health Coaches.  Each time we complete another course we see it as ‘switching on’ more MACROVegan ‘lighthouses’, around the world.  As our newly ordained students set up their own coaching practices, more lives are changed.  We now have students in 27 countries.

Our next course in November here in Oranmore, Co. Galway has students registered from the U.S. U.K. and Italy.  We have also had students from many parts of Ireland on various other courses we run.  These clients and students have travelled from Co. Limerick, Dublin, Clare Galway, and Co. Mayo. Our foreign students have the most fabulous time here on the West Coast of Ireland. They visit the beautiful Cliffs of Moher, hike on Connemara and The Burren and many bring their families on holiday whilst they study. Bill and I are forever grateful for the incredible students we have had the pleasure to share our life’s work with.

Our Food Is Our Future:

During our two-week Macrobiotic Health Coach course, our students learn that there are many different aspects that affect our health, the environment, stress, emotional factors, but for me, I am very focused on commencing with food. What we eat creates who we are and who we become. If we feed our body with good nutrient dense natural food it gives us the gift of strong blood, which gives us the gift of great health.  Food is my number one priority. It is where I start when I am coaching clients and students.

As my chant above illustrates, our food makes our blood; our blood creates and nourishes every cell in our body. At their consultation with me, clients are introduced to my magic mineral broth. This is the easiest way to have them ‘taste and see’ how simple it is to make a powerful and nutritious food/drink in their own kitchen.   This broth is perfect for any time of the year. Simply drink it hot in the winter, and cool in the summer. What we choose to eat or drink daily creates health or disease. It’s that simple.

Marlene’s Organic Magic Mineral Broth

This broth is a wonderful, filling snack that will also provide you with many healing nutrients and alkalinize your system, making it easier to detoxify, lose weight, and feel great. The recipe can be varied according to taste. A vegetable broth made from organically grown vegetables can be an excellent source of essential electrolytes. Ionic minerals are the key to maintaining good health.

2 x 5 inch strips of Kombu seaweed

6 dried Shiitake mushrooms

6 carrots cut into chunks

2 medium onions cut into chunks

1 leek, both white and green parts, cut into chunks

1 small bunch of celery including the heart, cut into chunks

1 daikon cut into chunks (and tops if available) or 1 x 6oz pack dried daikon

5 unpeeled cloves garlic, halved

1 small pumpkin or squash with skin on, quartered

5 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced

4 cups chopped greens such as kale, chard,

½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a large stock or soup pot, combine all the ingredients.   Fill the pot to two inches below the rim with water, cover, and bring to a boil.  Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low, and simmer for a minimum of 2 hours.  As the stock simmers, some of the water will evaporate; add more if the vegetables are exposed.  Simmer until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted. Strain the stock and pour into glass storage jars.  Refrigerating works well with any broth for up to five days.

In good health

marlene


Ecosia - Tree Planting Program

COOL CLIMATE
Trees absorb CO2, which is one of the main drivers of climate change. Larger forests can even create clouds, which then reflect the sunlight and cool our planet.

BIODIVERSITY
Forests are the most diverse systems on land with millions of species out of which many have not even been discovered and analysed yet.

SOIL PROTECTION
Trees protect the soil from erosion and they create productive and fertile land. If you cut down trees, you will very soon end up with a desert.
CLEAN AIR
Trees create oxygen, which we need to breathe. They also clean the air by absorbing pollutant gases and filtering out particulates.

HAPPY PEOPLE
Forests provide us with healthy food and lots of other products, which can be sustainably harvested. Worldwide the livelihood of 1.6 billion people depends on forests.

WATER SECURITY
Forests regulate the water cycles and prevent floods. They create moisturous microclimates and increase groundwater levels. They act like a “sponge” and therefore prevent droughts.

Trees mean a happy environment, healthy people and a strong economy
When you search the web with Ecosia, 80% of the profits from the search ad revenue goes to support tree planting programs. Get the free browser extension and help plant trees every time you search using ecosia.org.

Please share this project with all your family, friends and colleagues.

In good health

marlene


winter-west-coast-ireland

Winter On the West Coast of Ireland

Winter On the West Coast of Ireland

 

I have been in love with the concept of seasonal energy for decades. After all, it is not merely about just changing your wardrobe; it’s about adapting your diet to suit the environment and ‘Living’ with the Seasons.  Here in Galway, when I see people in cafes and bistros eating cold salads and drinking chilled fruit juices during the cold winter months it makes me shiver.  Talk about putting out your digestive fire!

 

My interest in health and nutrition over the past 40 years eventually led me to the macrobiotic approach to eating. When applied with common sense this is a very flexible way of eating. It reflects the connection between humanity and the planet – it is an ecological approach to eating and I love it.

Modern macrobiotic dietary principles have developed over the past 50 years in America, Europe and Asia. They are based on the philosophy of Asian medicine as practised in China and Japan. These concepts reflect physical, environmental and social observations over a period of more than 5000 years. Although the philosophy bears little relationship to Western nutritional science, the conclusions are very similar.

At our MACROVegan Centre in Oranmore, Co. Galway, we teach all our clients and students about the macrobiotic approach to eating.  This way of eating focuses on assisting the body to recover from nutritional stress, often the result of the modern diet, and return to a more sensible state of biological balance. The diet helps the body exercise its own self-healing capacity.

winter-west-coast-ireland

Try my healing tea that I suggest below and give your kidneys some T.L.C (tender, loving care) during the cold damp months of winter. Go one step further and have your partner or friend treat you to a ginger compress; it’s heaven on earth. Of course, they will expect a treatment in return, but it’s great to nourish each other through the colder, darker months of winter.  Bill and I adore this season of preserving and nourishing our energy that allows us to jump full force into spring.

Note: You will find instructions on how to do a ginger compress in the articles section on the website.

 

It’s All About Balance! The study of yin and yang energy is useful but is complemented in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) by the theory of the Five Transformations. The dynamic interaction between yin and yang does not produce a universe of simply black and white. Because of the infinite possibilities of yin and yang interaction, each with varying degrees of dominance, a wide variety of energetic qualities is possible. This is just like the water of a river that changes its character dramatically from rapids to waterfalls to silent ponds, before eventually flowing into the sea. The primary energy of nature expresses itself with incredible diversity, but it is the appearance that changes and not the primary reality of the water.

 

In TCM and Macrobiotics each season of the year is represented by an energy that dominates. Spring is dominated by TREE energy that rises and is the birthing of vegetal life. Summer is represented by FIRE – the energy of the sun and the season of abundance. As the energy of the summer wanes there is a swing season, late summer, when energy starts to settle – this is the time of SOIL. Autumn is ruled by METAL energy, when energy concentrates and settles into the earth. This settling and contracting energy is coiled and then released into WATER, the energy that animates winter before rising to continue the cycle.

 

The concept of seasonal eating is a basic principle in traditional health care systems from around the world. The truth is that people didn’t use to have much of an option. When you don’t have refrigerators and developed transportation systems, you eat what grows when it grows and learn to naturally preserve it, or you find out which foods can be safely stored.

One of the reasons that more people are drawn to this way of eating is that it supports regional self-sufficiency. If we can eat the foods that are produced closer to home it is better for the environment. Another reason to let the seasons guide us in food choices is that it is healthier. With enough flexibility to make a varied diet, the seasons give us what we need and serve as a guide for better health choices.

 

 

Hale & Hearty in Winter;

Winter is when the life energy of the earth settles deep within the soil. It is the time of moving within, both socially and physically. The energy of the body wants to move deeper and we have a tendency to conserve energy needed for warmth. We move indoors more and socialize with family and friends. There is a drift towards contemplation and reflection on the past seasons and making plans for the future.

 

General Considerations

Winter is ruled by the WATER element, which is associated with the kidneys, bladder and adrenal glands. It is a time when nature is silent and still, and at rest. In order to rejuvenate the body and the mind, we also need rest and warmth. The kidneys are of paramount importance to overall physical health and are considered to be the most vulnerable organs at this time of year.

Exercises that help to generate heat and energy in the kidneys, such as certain Pilates and Yoga postures, are extremely beneficial. The kidney energy is also depleted in the winter by long hours of work, excessive exercise or punishing fitness regimes. Little rest, lack of sleep and eating cooling foods are inappropriate for this time of year. If we dampen the warmth of the body in the winter months we are susceptible to colds and fevers.

 

Health is greatly enhanced by going to bed earlier in the winter and eating good, wholesome hot foods, such as whole grains, legumes, bean stews, soups and warming dinners. This is the season to give yourself permission for a lie in and to encourage yourself to go to bed early. If we take care of our energy in winter and guard against energy expenditure by cultivating quietness and contemplation, we will find ourselves feeling refreshed and healthy in spring.

The body heals and balances itself more quickly when we are still and deeply relaxed. From a place of stillness and deep reflection, we are able to flow with life and change our attitudes, perceptions and life habits with less resistance and personal drama. Nurturing the WATER element is the best way to ensure a long life.

 

The cooking and food choices outlined for winter are all about warming the body and strengthening the WATER element. If a person is living on a diet all year round that is better suited to hot climates or warm months, they may suffer damage to the kidneys, adrenal glands or sexual organs. The lower areas of the body or kidneys may feel cold, sexual energy may diminish or there may be a weakness in the bones. How many times have you heard someone say that they were chilled to the bone? Cooking for winter can be helpful when the body is locked into a cold condition.

 

Marlene’s Winter Warming Tea

A great drink for strengthening the kidney, bladder or adrenals.

1 cup adzuki beans

5 cm (2 inch) strip kombu seaweed

4 cups water

Place the adzuki beans in a pot with the kombu seaweed and soak for 4 hours or overnight. Drain, add fresh water and bring to a boil. Lower the flame, cover and simmer for approximately 20–30 minutes. Strain out the beans and drink the liquid while hot. You may continue cooking the beans longer with additional water, until soft and edible. Use the beans in a soup, stew or burgers.

 

 

In good health

marlene


vegan dish

The Healing Ginger Compress

Marlene Administering A Ginger Compress

As most of you will know, ginger has many healing capabilities and is one of my favourite home remedies.  The purpose of a hot Ginger Compress is to dissolve stagnation, mucus and tension, melt blockages and stimulate circulation and energy flow. This is a wonderful treatment for injuries to the body, especially the back. I use it on clients with scoliosis.

It is particularly good for moving stagnated chi (energy) in the kidneys and the lungs. It also helps heal skin complaints. The heat activity of the compress stimulates the blood and tissue circulation in the area being treated which then facilitates the excretion of the dispersed toxins.

It is effective in dissolving hardened accumulations of fats, proteins or minerals. Examples are kidney stones, gallbladder stones, cysts and benign tumours such as uterine fibroids.

Many types of acute or chronic pain can be relieved such as rheumatism, arthritis, backaches, cramps, kidney stone attacks, toothaches, stiff neck, frozen shoulder and similar problems. It is very effective for those suffering from asthma but will be effective ONLY when dietary recommendations are followed.

A ginger compress can speed up the improvement from a variety of inflammatory conditions, like bronchitis, prostate infection, bladder inflammation, intestinal inflammations (but never appendicitis). It is effective in relieving congestive conditions like asthma. When tissues have been damaged, the compress can speed up the regeneration of the damaged area and is also a wonderful treatment for dissolving muscle tensions.

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, grate enough gingerroot into a cotton cloth or handkerchief, to equal the size of a golf ball. Secure with an elastic band. When the water comes to a boil, switch off. Place the ball into the pot and allow it to soak in the water without boiling for about 5 minutes. Place two face towels into the ginger water, wring out one of the face cloths and apply to the desired area on the body. Cover with a hand towel to hold in the heat. Change the facecloth every 2 to 3 minutes as it starts to cool off.

Alternating the cloths quickly is important so that the skin does not cool off between applications. Continue the applications for about 15 to 20 minutes until the skin has turned pink.

The tissues of the walls of the intestine if you are using it there to relieve digestive problems, is thinner than the skin on the back so be careful to use the cloths at a temperature that will not burn you. However, they do need to be hot to stimulate blood flow.

The tissues begin to receive clean, revitalised blood (if we have also changed our way of eating, and it must be emphasised the ginger compress is a waste of time if we do not). The intestines become revitalised, leading to regeneration of the tissues and restoration of their proper, harmonious function.

During Treatment.

As a result of doing this treatment, mucus deposits are gradually dissolved and toxins flushed into the bloodstream. The body may show signs of detoxification or may show no overt signs of cleansing other than increased urination and bowel movement and some fatigue.

Relax after the treatment and drink some filtered water.  The compress should be done three times a week. There will be ample ginger in the water for three applications. Simply bring the water to just below boiling and switch off.

For psoriasis or other skin, complaints place the hot towels from the sternum to the navel to cover the whole intestinal tract.  This is where the healing will take place for problems with the skin. However, you must change to an MACROVegan diet and lifestyle for full benefits and renewed health.

Never apply a ginger compress when a high fever is present or with appendicitis. As the compresses are very contractive (yang) they are hot applications, therefore, should not be used in a dense area of the body such as the brain.

The body is a self-healing organism and always strives for homoeostasis. So, eat well, hydrate and exercise for good energy and vitality. Your body will love you for it.

In good health


bill-tara

MACROBIOTICS AND MACROVegan

MACROBIOTICS AND MACROVegan

The macrobiotic dietary principles have been developed over the past 60 years in America, Europe and Asia. They are based on the philosophy of Asian medicine as practiced in China and Japan. These concepts reflect physical, environmental and social observations for a period of over 5,000 years.  On the surface the philosophy bears little relationship of Western nutritional science yet the conclusions are remarkably similar.

While the diet associated with macrobiotics is usually the Standard Macrobiotic Diet this way of eating is not a “diet” in the strict sense of the word.  Macrobiotics is a way of understanding the effects of different foods and making choices according to individual needs. The modern macrobiotic way of eating is a dynamic and flexible approach to nutrition and general health that can be applied by anyone who is committed to increasing his or her personal health and vitality.

Michio Kushi developed the standard diet in the early 1980’s with assistance from Bill Tara, Ed Esko, William Spear and Murray Snyder. The standard diet was presented to offer a general model of macrobiotic eating. It was not a “diet” for anyone but a rather a set of guidelines. The model was helpful to the growing number of people seeking help with their health who were dealing with cancers, heart disease and a variety of serious illnesses. While thousands of people found assistance in recovering their health using variations of the standard diet, the association of macrobiotics and healing is often misunderstood.

While specific dietary patterns may be suggested to suit specific health issues, the application of macrobiotic principles to nutrition is not an attempt to therapeutically cure the illness.  The macrobiotic approach to eating is focused on assisting the body to recover from nutritional stress, often the result of the modern diet, and return to a healthier state of biological balance.  In the process of returning to a more balanced state the body is able to recover its own self-healing capacity. This process makes it possible for many people to experience a natural recovery of health and in some cases a complete remission of serious symptoms. Specific cooking techniques, home remedies and simple external treatments may be used to speed this process.

During the 1970’s and 1980’s macrobiotic practitioners were criticized by some nutritionists as being “unscientific” and mistaken in the view that there was a direct connection between diet and serious disease. The focus by conventional nutrition on nutritional deficiency ignored the fact that the degenerative diseases of modern society are diseases of excess. The macrobiotic view has been proven true.

The overwhelming evidence of contemporary science is that food is a major contributing cause of many cancers as well as stroke, diabetes, heart disease and a variety of major illnesses. The particular dietary factors most implicated in this relationship are over consumption of meat, dairy and simple sugars. Diets that are dominated by these foods are also usually devoid of whole cereal grains, vegetable protein, adequate fresh vegetables and fruits, seeds and nuts.

The world wide macrobiotic community has played an important role in advocating dietary reform, promoting organic farming, introducing Asian soy products and encouraging individuals and families to become more conscious of food choices and return to meals prepared in the home.

It is the unfortunate truth that even though governments and health agencies recommend plant based diets almost identical to a macrobiotic program their official recommendations are overly friendly to the food industry. Even where the relationship between food and disease is unmistakable the easy road is always taken.  A perfect example of this is obesity.

Obesity is a symptom. The real problem is an increase in diabetes, cancers and heart disease. These are the result of the modern diet and reflect a major shift in eating patterns throughout the world. One of the most accurate signs of this change is world meat production. The 400% increase in production far out runs the rise in population. People who ate meat in 1961 are eating more and an increasing number of people world-wide are being introduced to meat (as well as dairy foods) as a sign of wealth and promised nutritional improvement. Promoting a high animal protein diet runs contrary to the overwhelming epidemiological evidence against it.

The macrobiotic approach to diet that we use at MACROVegan is focused on the use of whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to provide a diverse and healthy diet. Our program avoids meats, dairy and simply sugars that have been shown to have a direct relationship to non-communicable disease. An approach that improves disease prevention can also be helpful in times of illness if the diet provides complete nutritional needs.

Hundreds of international studies have shown that meat and dairy consumption dramatically increase the incidence of heart disease and many cancers. The old theories about the essential use of these foods is obsolete. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund, from their 1997 report on diet and cancer prevention:

“There is no essential lower limit of intake of any type of meat, and diets including no meat are not only compatible with good health and low cancer risk, but may be preferred in some settings, especially when plant foods are abundant, reliable and varied.”

The MACROvegan approach to diet acknowledges the overwhelming proof for dietary reform. It also recognizes the positive opportunity to change existing dietary patterns in line with a healthier and earth-friendly way of eating. It is the future of nutrition.

 


biosphere

Diet and Human Ecology

Diet and Human Ecology

The biosphere is a delicate and dynamic system of energy, organic and inorganic matter. When we disrupt any part of it, the results ripple out and have far-reaching effects, often seemingly unrelated to their source. We search in vain to find some alien cause. Our attitudes regarding degenerative disease are a good example. When we focus on specific nutrients in our diet we fail to see the bigger, truer picture. We often fail to see how our food choices are driven by emotional and social influences and not physical need.

In 1943 the famed psychologist Abraham Maslow published a paper called 'A Theory of Human Motivation'. This groundbreaking work laid the foundations for the next three decades of developmental psychology. Maslow was looking for defining principles of human happiness, for what makes us feel complete. His conclusions were simple yet profound.

In identifying what he called a hierarchy of needs, he established that we must meet our basic physical requirements before addressing other areas of fulfillment and joy. The first level of need includes Air, Food, Water, Shelter, Warmth, Sex and Sleep. When these needs are attained we seek the second level - Safety, Protection from the elements, Security, Order, Stability and Freedom from Fear. Our desires for love, esteem, self-expression, creativity and the realization of our full potential rest on the foundation of these first two levels. If they are not met, we risk living with constant anxiety, stress and ill health. It would be fair to say that those first two levels are all about health. These considerations need a particular attention now more than ever because we are living in an environment of our own creation.

city

The number of people living in urban areas exceeded 50% of the world’s population for the first time in 2014.[1] It looks like it will be 70% by 2050. The WHO report lists resulting health challenges such as poor water quality, environmental pollutants, violence and injury, increased non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases), unhealthy diets and physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and increased exposure to disease outbreaks. In an unintended irony one of the few advantages of urban living is listed as access to better health care.

When I started studying food and nutrition, I was intrigued by the connection between what I was eating and the environment. I discovered that many of the foods that had questionable or negative effects on health also had an adverse environmental impact. This should not have surprised me. We do not need new products or even more studies to create a wholesome way of eating. What we need is a new way of looking at the whole issue of food and health. We need a user-friendly, common sense approach to understanding food that is healthy and sustainable for society and the environment. To accomplish this requires us to question everything we have been told about nutrition, and review some very basic questions about the role of food in our life and in our culture.

The word 'health' originates in old English, and means to be complete. Food is certainly an important part of being whole – being connected. To be healthy we need to eat food that allows us to operate at our full potential. That potential includes the sensitivity and capacity to adapt to environmental change. Health enables us to nurture the bond between nature and ourselves. Ecology is a central theme of the ancient systems of understanding food.

Ecology is rarely acknowledged when discussing nutrition, and yet is central to understanding our food choices, and how different foods affect us, both directly and indirectly. Rachel Carson, the American biologist, author of The Silent Spring,[2] and the accepted mother of modern ecology, says:

'If we have been slow to develop the general concepts of ecology and conservation, we have been even more tardy in recognizing the facts of the ecology and conservation of man himself. We may hope that this will be the next major phase in the development of biology. Here and there awareness is growing that man, far from being the overlord of all creation, is himself part of nature, subject to the same cosmic forces that control all other life. Man's future welfare and probably even his survival depend upon his learning to live in harmony, rather than in combat, with these forces.'[3]

This view of our relationship with nature is more crucial now than ever. Carson's vision of an evolution in biological science that unifies human life with the environment has been steadily sidelined. If man is 'a part of nature, subject to the same cosmic forces that control all other life', then natural law exists for us, as well as for every other creature, plant and aspect of the planet. If we do not learn to cooperate with the laws of nature, we will harm ourselves. We don't need a degree in environmental science to understand natural law.

We tend to view the world we live in, and all other life except perhaps domestic animals, as 'other'. But we do not exist outside of the intricate composition of the biosphere. When we examine nutrition as a fundamental aspect of our relationship with the planet we come to a better understanding of the problems surrounding the human diet.

Our belief in human supremacy, often referred to as Anthropocentric thinking, allows us to place ourselves at the center of the universe. We view our uniqueness as a sign of separation from the rest of life that swirls around us and within us. The belief that we are superior to other life forms permits us to use the natural world according to our desires and whims.  As we pull away from any physical interaction with nature we fortify those mythologies that lie at the foundation of our most harmful behaviors.

In ecological studies there are several kinds of relationships between an organism and its environment. The first thing we need to know about any new creature we discover is how it procreates and what it eats. These are the driving forces of evolution; they dictate physical form, function and most behavior.

One class of relationship is called 'commensalism', from the Latin 'to eat at the same table'. These are relationships where one organism gains benefits and the other is not affected. Another type of relationship is 'mutualism', where both organisms benefit. In sharp contrast is the 'parasitism' relationship, where one organism benefits while the other is harmed. Creating a commensal relationship with the planet is primary for humanity. Our well-being is inter-dependent with the well-being of the planet. It is also the key to a comprehensive vision of human nutrition.

Planet Earth is host to human life. The natural world makes human life possible. Our current relationship with the planet is almost entirely parasitic.  The famous British naturalist, David Attenborough recently referred to humanity as 'a plague on the planet'.[4] The chemist and co-creator of the Gaia Theory, James Lovelock, said that humans are “too stupid to prevent climate change”.[5]  What does our casual disregard for the environment say about us?

We like to imagine that our relationship with nature is a kind of benign mutualism, one where we take from nature in exchange for nature having the pleasure of our company. The conundrum we face is that our whole economy is based on endless consumption; we are eating up the environment.  But as economist E.F Schumacher said “Infinite growth of material consumption in a finite world in an impossibility”.

Protein provides a good example of a human obsession becoming an environmental problem. Obtaining adequate protein in our diet is easy. A diet with a variety of grains, beans, vegetables, nuts and seeds provides more than sufficient protein for health and vitality. (You can refer to Section Two for some great, protein-rich recipes.) Asians (who eat less meat than westerners) have produced concentrated, vegan, protein-rich foods for centuries, such as miso, soya sauce, tempeh and tofu.

Increasing numbers of people understand that meat is not a good food choice. Some avoid meat for ethical reasons (abuse and killing of animals), some because of environmental impact, and some due to health concerns.  Changing to a macrobiotic vegan diet affects social and personal habits. What if you understand all that but like the taste of meat? What if you like the texture of meat? Don't worry, a solution is at hand.  Food science is on the way to your door with fake 'meaty stuff'.

Yes, we can make and sell you soya hot-dogs, lunch meats, imitation steaks and pies and burgers. They can taste like beef, chicken or pork. These products are perhaps culturally fun, but they do not address the issues of good nutrition. Soy is difficult to digest, that is why the people of Asia fermented it. We have to use additives, excessive salt and extensive processing to get the 'meaty' taste that mimics flesh. All because we love to indulge our senses.

Bill Gates has recently backed a company called Beyond Meat. The young entrepreneur who started the company is busy producing all sorts of fake meat in his factory. He outlined his idea in an interview with Business Insider magazine[6].

"Meat is well understood in terms of its core parts, as well as its architecture. Meat is basically five things: amino acids, lipids, and water, plus some trace minerals and trace carbohydrates. These are all things that are abundant in non-animal sources and in plants." 

Here we are again in the 'food as a chemical delivery system' world. Beyond Meat has manufactured artificial chicken (it tastes just like chicken) and beef in its facilities in Southern California. Ethan Brown, the brains behind the company, has attracted investment from other big shareholders. In addition to Gates and the co-founder of Twitter, the ex-CEO of McDonalds is in the game as an advisor.

I will lose many of my vegan friends here who think that fake meat is the best thing since sliced bread (and we know how that worked out). Fake meat is being marketed as a solution to the 'meat problem'. But we don’t have a meat problem. We have a human problem. According to Food Research International, manufactured faux meat uses an equal amount of energy to produce as meat products.[7] Bill Gates is a dangerous guide to environmental concerns, given his enthusiastic support of Monsanto’s GMO’s as the way to feed the world.

Fake meat is highly processed, manufactured food. It includes canola oil (which is always chemically processed), soy protein isolate (a commercial waste product that populates many vegan and vegetarian foods) and several common additives. It is not a solution to creating a healthy diet.

 

[1] World Health Organization, Global Health Observatory data

[2] Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics), original publication 1962

[3] "Essay on the Biological Sciences" in Good Reading (1958)

[4] The Guardian, September 10, 2013

[5] The Guardian, March 29, 2010

[6] Business Insider, August 15, 2015

[7] Environmental Impact of four meals with different protein sources, Food Research International, Volume 43, Issue 7, August 2010


Me Myself and I

Many years ago, I worked for my parents who own a video production company. Because it is a family business, you inevitably end up wearing many hats and being the czar of many different jobs. I mainly managed projects and worked as a video editor. On production, there were times that I was called on to work as an audio tech and was made to wear headphones on long production days. In those days, having a really good set of headphones that picked up every nuance of sound was essential to making sure the client got what they needed.

First impressions.

Naturally, my first impression of these headphones is based off of the look of them. They have a classic over-the-ear style that is highlighted by a blue LED light that indicates the power for the noise canceling. The padding on the ear pieces seems adequate for extended usage periods.
They are wired headphones, but the 3.5mm stereo mini-plug cable is detachable. Something else I noticed right of the bat was the very nice carrying case that comes with them. It has a hard plastic exterior with a soft cloth interior that helps to protect the surface of the headphones from scratches. I never truly appreciated cases for headphones until I started carrying them from place-to-place. Now I can’t imagine not having a case.

A perfect fit.

Once I gave the headphones a thorough once-over exam, I tried them on. As I mentioned, they have a classic over-the-ear style and just looking at them, the padding on the ear pieces seem adequate and the peak of the headband seemed to be a bit lacking, but you don’t really know comfort unless you try on the product. So, I slipped the headphones on and found them to be exquisitely comfortable.

It’s safe to say that because of my unique professional experiences, I’ve tested out a lot of headphones.

Quality.

Now that I had the headphones on my head, I was finally ready to plug and play some music. I plugged the provided cable into the jack on the headphones and then the one on my iPhone 6. Then I called up Pandora. I tend to have a very eclectic music purview and have many stations set up for different moods. From John Williams to Fallout Boy, the sound quality of these headphones was remarkable. There is an amazing depth of sound and incredible highs and lows that make listening to music a truly breathtaking experience.

In order to test how voices sounded, and the overall art of sound mixing, I pulled up Netflix on my iPad Air 2 and watched a few minutes of a movie to hear all the nuances of the film. None of them were lost. In fact, I ended up hearing sounds that I hadn’t heard before. Echoes…birds chirping…wind blowing through trees…breathing of the characters…it was very impressive what the headphones ended up bringing out for me.

I would highly recommend these to any sound mixing specialist.


The Carnivore Karma

THE CARNIVORE KARMA

Many American and British people are repulsed by the idea that people in China, Korea or other parts of the world eat dogs. The practice is called a barbaric habit and uncivilised. Horse meat is consumed in France, Belgium, Hungary as well as in Mongolia and Japan. The English speaking world is horrified – these are our pets!

In 2013 when horse meat was found in supermarket beef patties there was outrage. In some cases, the meat patties were 100% horse meat.[1] The legal issue was that it illustrated the difficulty involved in tracing the origin of any meat product. There was no health concern, the horse meat would have actually been healthier than beef from a standard nutritional point of view. The public concern was that they were HORSES!

We domesticate cats and dogs to provide amusement and companionship. Foxes, minks, rabbits and chinchilla are raised so that we can skin them and use their fur. We would not eat a fox we would only wear it, we have decided that some animals are off limits for eating and others are OK.

Most people would agree that the killing of wild, rare animals is wrong. It is not wrong to put them in cages with concrete floors, behind bars or in confined spaces. Putting them in a zoo is OK, it’s educational. African elephants in the wild may require up to 2.7 million acres as a ‘home range’, this is a healthy habitat.[2] A captive elephant in a zoo may be given 2 or 3 acres if lucky. This would be like letting you live in your bedroom closet for the rest of your life. So what about the animals we raise in order to eat?

Science has acknowledged that meat and dairy are unnecessary and indeed damaging to good health. Our only rationale for eating these foods is pleasure. Our taste for fat and blood drives our desire.  We are killing 56 billion land animals[3] each year (estimated to double by 2050) to feed this craving. The number of aquatic creatures killed defies counting and can only be measured by tonnage, but a conservative estimate is well over 100 billion sea creatures. We might imagine that with increased awareness about both the health and environmental consequences of this slaughter we would stop, but we don’t. We might imagine that we would never kill without a valid reason, and yet we do. What stops us?

I have taught and offered health counselling in over twenty 'developed' countries.  When I ask people to describe their diets, they commonly respond "I eat a traditional diet". All their imagined 'traditional' diets include meat and/or dairy foods. They are seen to be an important part of the social fabric. Celebrations and holidays are routinely associated with eating animals.

carnavore-karmaAmericans fire up the grill on the Fourth of July and eat hamburgers, a food that would be very alien to the Founding Fathers. In Ireland, Easter somehow requires a baked ham or lamb. Every year the President of the United States 'pardons' an individual turkey brought to the White House by the National Turkey Foundation. (No one has yet identified the specific crime the turkey is being pardoned for.)  The turkey is saved to live another day while its brothers and sisters are in the oven. Forty-six million turkeys are eaten every Thanksgiving in America. Tradition?

As with any habit, tradition should be assessed as either improving or diminishing the quality of individual and social life. Some traditions fill an important need and are worth retaining, others certainly outlive their use, or may simply be based on ignorance. It doesn't make sense to retain a tradition through misplaced nostalgia. We can love our grandparents and still leave many of their prejudices and beliefs in the past.

Karma is subtle. There is perhaps no single act that more clearly illustrates our distance from nature than killing in order to enjoy specific foods. When we do that we put ourselves outside the vibrant community of life that surrounds us. We cannot pretend that our food choices are simply a personal matter any more than it is a personal issue if we dump garbage in the local well.

 

“Each meal has very real effects on the lives of people around the world, on the environment, biodiversity and the climate that are not taken into account when tucking into a piece of meat”[4].

 

When we ignore the laws of nature and moral considerations, the results are disastrous. Some of the results are very direct and concrete and some are more distantly linked, more abstract.  I am not talking about angry spirits here, only karma.

When we force chickens, cattle and pigs into cramped and crowded quarters, they breed new strains of viruses that jump species. Viruses do not simply drop from the sky; they require an environment that suits their needs. Bird flu (avian flu) breeds in the unhealthy, overpopulated environment of factory farms[5]. Bird flu is lethal, and easily jumps species. Two of every three people it infects die[6].  These diseases are a direct result of our abuse of animals.

Infectious diseases that start in animals and can be naturally transmitted to humans are called zoonosis. It is estimated that 61% of all known pathogens that infect humans are zoonosis’, including many serious diseases such as Ebola virus disease, Salmonellosis and influenza.[7] We know factory farming presents both direct and indirect health challenges to us all. Even if we were only focused on the direct effect on human health we should be worried. These diseases are a direct result of the sicknesses we impose on the animals that live in captivity. Millions of pigs, chickens, cows and increasingly farmed fish not only suffer but live in an environment that makes them ill and diseased. Eating diseased animals is not an idea we care to entertain.

Some imagine dairy cows contently grazing in green fields. It is an image that often features in television advertisements. These ads are designed to make us feel that the cows are happy to share their milk with us. The cheese, milk and ice cream are a cheerful gift willingly given. I remember a company that advertised their milk as coming from ‘contented cows”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Dairy cows are artificially inseminated, made pregnant, give birth and are milked for up to 10 months, including during their next enforced pregnancy. After being raped and confined their children are then taken away so that their milk is not wasted on the animal it is intended for. Anyone who has lived near a dairy farm knows the sound of a mother cow howling with anguish when her calf is taken away so that we can use her milk as a product, rather than let it serve its natural purpose.  Female calves are kept for future use and males are most likely sent to veal processing or left to die.

One outcome of this unnatural condition of constant milking is mastitis, which is responsible for one in six cow deaths on American dairy farms. The disease is reflected in the quality of the milk through an increase in somatic cells. Somatic cell counts in milk are referred to as abnormal. When a cow has mastitis, up to 90% of the somatic cells in the milk may be neutrophils, the inflammatory cells that form pus.[8]  We don’t want to consider this when we order our cappuccino or spread butter on our toast. And whether the cow was pasture-grazed, lived in a private shed with a heater and listened to classical music, or was the product of a cattle factory.  She is still abused and she is still slaughtered when her usefulness is done.

Since the animals are kept in confined and cramped conditions viral infection is constant. In the USA, roughly 29 million pounds of antibiotics -about 80 percent of the country’s total antibiotics used - are added to animal feed yearly. This contributes to the rise of resistant bacteria, making it harder to treat both animal and human illnesses.[9],[10] Karma!

The conditions in factory farms and feedlots around the world are horror shows of inhumanity. The animals are tortured. They feel the fear, and they feel the pain. We try to persuade ourselves that they are unfeeling, but we know that isn't true. Our 'man the hunter' mythology, speciesism and desire for a tasty treat distorts our finer human qualities.

The issues around meat-eating not only span the health and environmental impacts of the food we eat but permeate our collective psyche. Historically, the ethics of eating animals was usually addressed as part of a philosophical or spiritual inquiry but we seem to place secular morality off to the side. Increasingly we are faced with moral decisions that are not defined in ancient texts or fear of punishment of angry gods. These decisions are driven by a desire to evolve the finer attributes of human potential and all of them lead to the world that balances the needs of humankind with the environment that we have grown out of. The quest to live in balance with the laws of nature is fundamental, regardless of how we imagine those laws to have been created.

[1] Findsus beef lasagne contains up to 100% horsemeat, BBC News. 7 February 2013.

[2] Globalelephants.org

[3] U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), "Meat and Meat Products," Food Outlook, June 2008

[4] The MEAT, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin, Germany, and Friends of the Earth Europe, Brussels, Belgium

[5] J. Otte, D. Roland-Holst et al: Industrial Livestock Production and Global Health Risk, FAO Report, John Hopkins Bloomberg School Of Public Health

[6] The Monster At Our Door, The Global Threat Of Avian Flu, Mike Davis, Holt Paperbacks

[7] Taylor LH, Latham SM, Woolhouse ME (2001). "Risk factors for human disease emergence". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

[8] National Mastitis Council, “Guidelines on Normal and Abnormal Raw Milk Based on Somatic Cell Counts and Signs of Clinical Mastitis,” 2001.

[9] Natural Resources Defense Council – Facts About Pollution from Livestock Farms

[10] National Mastitis Council


bad-medicine

BAD MEDICINE

Conventional medicine has a sad and dysfunctional relationship with nutrition. Growing evidence on connections between diet and disease means doctors are asked questions they have evaded for decades. Many of my clients experiencing the benefits of a healthy plant-based diet ask “Why didn’t my doctor know about this?”

I fully respect the good work that most doctors do. Modern medicine can do many wonderful things. But the profession is rarely criticised or assessed rigorously from the outside. We seem much more interested in who pays the bill rather than the quality of the service. There are mythologies surrounding medicine that are deeply embedded in our culture, and that profoundly affect our attitudes to health.

Since the 1950’s medical shows on television have been a standard entertainment; at last count there have been 93 successful shows (32 in the UK) with a medical format. From 'Dr Kildare' and 'Ben Casey' in the 60’s to 'ER' and 'House' in the 21st century, television doctors have portrayed the power of medicine over suffering and death. But it is a mistake to believe that this power indicates that doctors understand health. They are sickness experts - not health experts.

An analogy of the comparison is this: imagine a highway with hundreds of cars speeding along. Suddenly a bridge collapses. Standing by the road, you see cars hurtling off it, into the canyon below. What do you do? Do you go down into the canyon and help those injured? Or do you stop the traffic?

Medicine has chosen to go into the canyon and help the injured. And maybe they put up ambiguous warning signs such as 'Speed Kills', 'Watch Out!' or 'Use Caution'.

Someone has to stop the traffic. The medical establishment has not taken on that role in the past, and there is no sign that they will in the future, although a few brave souls venture out to stem the traffic flow.

It’s hard to get out of that canyon once you are down there. Things are not going so well at the crash site. As the traffic increases the services and personnel become more overworked, and resources are constantly under stress. There is an endless demand for more money and new technologies - but extra resources don’t seem to help.

In America just under 18% of the GNP is spent on health care; in the UK the figure is 9.6%[1].  Yet in an exhaustive survey done by the United Nations, published in 2000, America only ranked 37th  out of 190 countries and the UK ranked 18th.[2] Something is seriously wrong and money isn't fixing it. One problem is that the growing demands and increased complexity of treatment creates an environment where mistakes are unavoidable. A 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine reported that there are 440,00 preventable deaths from medical errors annually in America.[3]  That makes medical error the third leading cause of death following heart disease and cancer.

The focus at the crash site is the prescription of pills.  We live in a culture where every complaint, real or imagined, requires medication. Driven by the pharmaceutical mentality, the abuse of prescriptive drugs grows yearly. An estimated 48 million Americans have abused prescription drugs - nearly 20% of the U.S. population. Deaths by prescription drugs are more common than deaths by car accidents in America, and far outstrip deaths by illegal drugs. Disturbingly, the non-medical use of prescription drugs has been rising steadily for adolescents, particularly prescription pain relievers, anti-anxiety medications, stimulants and steroids.[4]

What about antibiotics? Sometimes a doctor prescribes antibiotics under pressure from a misguided patient who demands medication. Common colds, flu (influenza), bronchitis, most cough’s, most sore throats, some ear infections, many sinus infections and stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis) do not respond to antibiotics.  Yet antibiotics are regularly prescribed for these cases. Doctors may even write the prescription before receiving test results that identify the infection.

The long-term and combined effects of our romance with drugs is making us sicker. Antibiotics are specifically designed to kill microorganisms - but it is almost impossible to target a single species. Antibiotics are literally 'anti-life'.  In using them, we may kill the bacteria we want to kill. We also kill or damage our beneficial bacteria, and mutate harmful ones.

As antibiotic use increases, bacteria adapt to them and become resistant. A 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that at least 2 million people annually "acquire serious infections with bacteria that are resistant to one or more of the antibiotics designed to treat those infections." [5] At least 23,000 people die annually in America from antibiotic-resistant infections.

The human body is home to billions of microbes. They inhabit every part of the body from the eyelash to the gut. They perform essential tasks in protecting us from potential pathogens. Microorganisms are crucial to our digestive system. The colonies of microbes that form the microbiome in our gut are the key to good digestion - and more. When we eat, it is these tiny creatures that increase the efficiency of metabolism, fine-tune immune response and even synthesize some vitamins.

It seems clear that the overuse of antibiotics is having a negative impact on many indigenous organisms in the gut. These microbes have established a commensal (mutually beneficial) relationship with their human hosts. Their disappearance, under the onslaught of antibiotics and the modern diet, seems to promote conditions such as obesity and asthma.[6] The use of antibiotics dramatically alters digestive function. Think of the common side-effects of nausea and diarrhea. This is part of a vicious cycle: our diet makes us more prone to disease, and then we take drugs that hamper digestion and compromise immune function.

A recent study in the British National Health Service found that nine out of ten General Practitioners in the UK feel pressurized by their patients to prescribe antibiotics. Ninety-seven percent of these patients are prescribed antibiotics regardless of their illness.  When the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) suggested that doctors who over-prescribe be censured,[7] doctors were upset.

Antibiotics first arrived on the medical scene in 1932. They were the first medicines labeled 'wonder drugs'. The introduction of the sulfa drugs meant the U.S. mortality rate from pneumonia dropped from 0.2% each year to 0.05% by 1939. This was indeed a wonderful treatment and saved many lives. Penicillin, introduced a few years later, provided a broader spectrum of activity, and had fewer side effects. Streptomycin, discovered in 1942, was the first effective drug against tuberculosis, and came to be the best known of a long series of important antibiotics. The root causes of the diseases treated were lost in the celebrations.

Tuberculosis can be directly traced to individual and social behavior. This was also the case with whooping cough, pneumonia and other diseases of poverty. They originate in crowded and unhygienic environments where malnutrition is common. Now that we were able to cure the illnesses with antibiotics, we stopped focusing on cleaning up the slums and the provision of healthy food.

Taking medication is a huge act of faith. We believe that the healer knows about invisible forces - and knows how to control them. It doesn’t matter if the healer is a shaman on the Mongolian tundra, a Wise-Woman herbalist in the forests of ancient Europe, or a doctor in modern America. The healer's naming of the evil spirit indicates special wisdom. If the name is in a foreign language all the better (Latin is a good start). Doctors unwittingly support and encourage this fantasy. We may mock other cultures for their superstitions, but are our own illusions really that different?

The relationship between the healer/doctor and the patient is based largely on the faith of the patient, rather than knowledge.  It is an infantile bond, disempowering to the one seeking help. We are uneducated about health, and the doctor is unlikely to have the time (or perhaps the inclination) to educate us. That is not their job, they just want to treat us. So we continue thinking that we must hand over the care of our health to our doctor - and that they know what they are doing.

Disease is generally described as an enemy. Invisible and mysterious adversaries surround us.  We are 'fighting' heart disease; we are 'battling' cancer we will 'conquer' diabetes. Who or what are we fighting? As long as the enemy is concealed behind a cloak of mystery we can leave the battle up to the wizards and hope for the best. In order to discover the culprit all that we need is a mirror. Our major antagonist is hiding in clear sight. We like to think that responsibility for our illnesses lies outside us. If my illness is caused by a virus, bacteria or genetics, then I am blameless. But change my daily habits? Surely not! It can't be that simple, can it?

[1] Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Health Data 2013

[2] World Health Organization, World Health Report 2000

[3] As reported in Forbes Magazine, September 23, 2013

[4] National Council on Alcoholism, and Drug Dependence

[5] Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Antibiotic Resistance in the United States, 2013, cdc.gov

[6] Nature Reviews Microbiology 7, 887-894 (December 2009) What are the consequences of the disappearing human microbiota?

[7] National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Report, Aug, 2015

body

DIET AND DISEASE

DIET AND DISEASE

The relationship between disease and diet has been well documented over the past five decades. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, over 80% of human cancer is caused by environmental factors. Those factors include smoking, diet, exposure to environmental toxins and alcohol. In other words, they are avoidable causes.

Even though this is well known the vast majority of doctors seem unwilling to make demands on politicians and business leaders to improve health in the most direct and effective ways. Could it be that there is a vested interest in keeping the sickness service running smoothly? The disease is big business. The corporate side of treating cancer is in a golden era. Spending on cancer medicines has hit a new milestone: US$100 billion in 2014 out of global sales of 1 trillion. Why would anyone be inspired to prevent a sickness that is such a cash cow? There is little doubt that the pharmaceutical industry is the driving force in forming medical policy.

A study published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition showed that the average medical student was given 23.9 hours of nutrition instruction[1]. That’s one day out of 15 years. Nutrition, like prevention of illness, gets pushed to the side in modern medical training (and therefore practice). Doctors don’t know much about nutrition, but they act as if they do. I regularly hear from clients, students and friends about absurd statements regarding diets and health made by doctors. We simply need to look at the facts to see that simple changes in daily habits could create profound improvements in public health.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women.  We know the causes of heart disease.  It is the one of the most preventable, and probably the most studied, of all of the non-communicable diseases.  Over the last few decades, study after study has shown that the two main causes of heart disease are smoking and diet.  A reduction of smokers has resulted in lower rates of heart disease, but we have done almost nothing to address diet and heart disease except allow misinformation and commercial influence promote “heart healthy” products.

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year. That’s one in every four deaths.[2]
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually.
  • Every year about 720,000 Americans has a heart attack. Of these, 515,000 are a first heart attack and 205,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.[3]

Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year.[4]  This includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.

The World Heart Foundation says:

The role of diet is crucial in the development and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Diet is one of the key things you can change that will impact all other cardiovascular risk factors.

Comparisons between a diet low in saturated fats, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and the typical diet of someone living in the developed world show that in the former there is a 73% reduction in the risk of new major cardiac events.”[5]

Diabetes

The number of adults in the U.S. with diabetes has tripled between 1980 and 2011. It is the seventh leading cause of death in America. Worldwide, the number of adults with diabetes will rise from 285 million in 2010 to 439 million in the year 2030.[6]

We know a lot about diabetes.  For instance, we know that type 2 diabetes accounts for between 90% and 95% of diagnosed adult cases. We are seeing more and more adolescents presenting with symptoms of type 2 diabetes. We know that diabetes contributes to heart disease, blindness and is the main cause of kidney failure and lower limb amputation. It causes over 73,000 amputations a year - that’s 1,400 a week[7].  'Management' of the disease does not prevent these complications. It simply delays them. Yet we also know that diabetes is not only preventable, it is reversible.

Researchers at the University of Newcastle (UK) showed that using a low-calorie diet could reverse diabetes.[8] It has also been shown that diabetics who had bariatric surgery and reduced their weight by 15kg showed signs of recovery.  Thousands of people using alternative health care have experienced a complete reversal of type 2 diabetes.

Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, is one of the UK's leading diabetes researchers. He sees successful management of type 2 diabetes as a curse.  “It is moving us away from serious attempts to cure the problem. We're getting pretty good at keeping people alive longer," he says. "And we're seeing more and more obese younger people going onto tablets ever earlier. That means the population living with diabetes is rising.” There is too much focus on management, and not enough on prevention.

My own experience with people with type 2 diabetes is that those given a good diet and good exercise programme always see a dramatic improvement in their condition within two or three weeks. Most of them have reduced or completely come off their medication and are free of the disease.

Cancer

When medical people talk about cancer they focus on the survival rates so they can give us good news. Survival from cancer has doubled over the past 40 years, the death rates have fallen and over half of all patients now survive at least ten years. We can now keep people alive with the disease. What we hear less regularly is that the occurrence of cancer is continually rising.

“It is predicted there will be 23.6 million new cancer cases worldwide each year by 2030, if recent trends in incidence of major cancers and population growth are seen globally in the future. This is 68% more cases than in 2012, with slightly larger growth in low and medium HDI (Human Development Index) countries (66% more cases in 2030 than 2012) than in high and very high HDI countries (56% more cases in 2030 than 2012)”[9]

The following figures are from a study that analysed statistics from 1975 to 1994 on the incidence of all cancers. The findings indicated that while the incidence of some cancers was decreasing, others were rising at an alarming rate. (The most dramatic decline was in cases of lung cancer, as a result of fewer people smoking.) There are some shocking figures in the report.[10]

  • A contemporary black woman's risk of breast cancer is 54% greater than was her mother's at the same age. A white woman's risk is 41% greater than her mother's.
  • Men today are three or four times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than their fathers.
  • Excluding cancers linked to smoking, or where trends are confounded by changes in diagnostic procedure (breast and prostate; see below), relative to the previous generation, rates increased on average 13% in black women, 52% in white men, and 67% in black men. There was little change in white women.
  • For non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which was analysed separately, the rates today relative to 25 years ago have almost doubled in white women, nearly tripled in black women, more than tripled in white men, and more than quadrupled in black men.

We can start looking at preventing cancer or we can continue to find ways to try and extend our lives with drugs by 6 months, 8 months or even some years. This 'living with the disease' usually means that the quality of life is extremely compromised. Living with the disease is also increasingly expensive.

Numerous studies from the past thirty years link breast cancer to dairy food. Prostate cancer has been linked to the consumption of animal foods, particularly barbequed foods.  But this is not a popular message for media to cover - and it doesn't go down too well with food producers or pharmaceutical companies either.

Organised medicine presents its successes to us with a flourish, and brushes its’ unfortunate failures under the carpet.  If medicine were really successful in creating health we would need fewer hospitals, and medical services would not labor under stress.

We are not condemned to continue feeding the money machines that both medicine and nutrition have become. There are things we can do to get out of this mess. We could stringently investigate the pharmaceutical industry's hold on the health care industry. We could independently test all drugs and assess their value. We could insist that all approaches by the pharmaceutical lobbies to physicians and politicians are transparent. (Pharmaceutical lobbies have spent over 2.3 billion dollars to directly influence law-makers and 183 million on political contributions since 1998.) At the time of writing, the industry has already spent nearly $10 million on the 2016 American elections and is expected to spend more.

Diet is a major cause of disease. This is good news - we can change our diet pretty easily. In the late 1960’s a revolution was brewing that challenged medical and nutritional mythologies, and it wasn’t generated from within the professions. A rebellious public were asking increasingly difficult questions that generated some stunning changes. The dietary principles we teach at MACROVegan Centre are aimed at the prevention, and reversal of the major diseases that plague our society. We also teach the practical life skills on how to make your healthy diet a practical and tasty one.

[1] American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, April 2006

[2] Murphy SL, Xu JQ, Kochanek KD. Deaths: Final data for 2010. Natl Vital Stat Rep. 2013;61

[3] Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Blaha MJ, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2014 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2014 ;128

[4] Heidenreich PA, Trogdon JG, Khavjou OA, et al. Forecasting the future of cardiovascular disease in the United States: a policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011;123:933-44. Epub 2011 Jan 24

[5] World Heart Foundation, 2014 Report

[6] Shaw JE, Sicree RA, Zimmet PZ. Global estimates of the prevalence of diabetes for 2010 and 2030. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2010; 87:4-14

[7] National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014, American Diabetes Association

[8] Newcastle University, Reversal of type 2 diabetes: normalisation of beta cell function in association with decreased pancreas and liver triacylglycerol. July 31, 2013

[9] Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, et al. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013.

[10] Dinse, GE, DM Umbach, AJ Sasco, DG Hoel and DL Davis. 1999. Unexplained increases in cancer incidence in the United States from 1975 to 1994. Annual Review of Public Health 20: 173-209