Whole Foods Nutrition

  Diet and nutrition has become such a mystery today that the balance of health and sickness has reached a tipping point on the side of disease.  It used to be that life was so normal and predictable, that a counterculture took drugs to make it more interesting and visionary.  Now life has become so weird and out of control, that the over the counter culture is distributing Prozac to make it normal.   Our modern world cornucopia has been reduced to processed foods, synthetic vitamins, and pasteurization of live foods etc.  We measure calories from a cauldron of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats and depending on the national diet fads of the year, high protein, and low carbohydrate may be in vogue only to be countered by high carbohydrate, low protein the following decade.

    Unfortunately these findings have more to do with the food industry captains like the meat, dairy, poultry, sugar, fast food chains and Agribusiness than actual health.  If health was really taken into account there would be laws against contaminating our food supply.  But since the Fox is guarding the chicken coop don’t expect any changes soon. Do know though that you still have a choice about what and how you eat.
Most processed foods are toxic and that’s a good starting point.  Reading the ingredients on food items practically requires a chemistry background so it’s often ignored.  A good rule of thumb would be that if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.  Ingredients like monosodium glutamate also known as MSG, and aspartame are hidden in many food and beverage products.  They are carcinogenic, neurotoxin flavor enhancers and are very detrimental to health.   Most people are hip to MSG and its ill effects but rather than ban it from our food supply the FDA allows it to be masked under the following names: hydrolyzed vegetable protein, enzyme modified butter or cheddar cheese, yeast extract, natural or artificial flavors, malto dextrin and many more.  MSG can trigger epileptic seizures, increase appetite and insulin secretion, diabetes, migraine headaches etc…

    Aspartame has been on the market for decades as those sweet little packets of Equal and Nutra sweet.  It’s also in practically all chewing gum brands and is now being associated with auto immune diseases. It becomes unstable over 85 degrees and can affect the nervous system and cause brain damage  The question you might ask yourself when having a hot beverage with Aspartame is:  is the temperature over 85 degrees?  I’ve only mentioned a few controversial ingredients but as one begins to decipher the grail of these food additives, one can easily connect allergies, headaches, auto-immune dysfunctions and chronic illness with their consumption.  Aspartame can also break down in the body to create formaldehyde as a by product.   
    Processed carbohydrates are totally stripped of nutritional value, as compared to a whole food carbohydrate.   Whole food carbohydrates include all grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, oils, honey, herbs etc. Their processed counterparts like frozen pizza, pastries, white bread, white sugar etc. have a more permanent shelf life.  Animal protein and their by- products are equally treated with toxic preservatives like nitrites, dyes etc.  It’s a bit of an oversight to neglect vegetable protein as a viable protein in the diet.  Maybe it’s because we don’t recognize vegetarianism as a marketable diet. Although we can safely say that Fats come from both carbohydrates and proteins, established experts are still questioning the role of fats needed in the body.  Just as we have stripped the natural elements from a food to a synthetic product, we have also lost our innate intuition in choosing foods that can sustain vital health.  What was yesterday’s common sense has become today’s mysticism.  I apologize for beginning this piece with such negativity but I think it is important for anyone who is serious about their health to be aware of the playing field in choosing a vital selection of food. 
    Most of today’s illnesses can be alleviated by using simple dietary principles along with common sense choices for a healthy life.  Everyone is uniquely different but the right amount of clean water, fresh air and natural food (unprocessed, unadulterated, organic), accompanied with exercise and rest, is the relative formula that produces strong health for all humans, bar none.  The wisdom is to discover the right proportions of the above elements that are best suitable for you. 
    In February of 1980, I began to travel with singer/songwriter John Denver.  My first tour on the road with him was doing 125 shows in 100 cities in 9 months.  Having treated John previously for structural complaints, he was fascinated by the idea of traveling with a cook and having at least one consciously prepared meal each day.  It was just an idea at first but when the position opened, I traveled as head of Security (due to previous martial arts training), cook and health therapist.  We traveled in a 40 person entourage and each day I prepared a five to eight course meal for John, the Band and Management.  After a while we were known as the boat people because I cooked the food on a three burner Coleman Fuel Stove on the floor of John’s suite.  I traveled with cookware, staples like brown rice, aduki beans, miso, and an assortment of condiments.  Each time we were in a new Hotel, I had to get up early to go to a hardware store and pick up a gallon of Coleman fuel and then find a natural food store that carried fresh produce and other needed supplies.  Back in 1980, health food stores were mostly vitamin stores and only a few places across the country could one find bulk grains like brown rice, millet, barley, along with wild crafted herbs, spices and various condiments.  Year after year, doing concerts at familiar venues, health food stores grew like mushrooms and offered a wider selection of whole foods.  By the latter half of the 80’s, the alternative health movement became prosperous enough to be taken seriously and America’s health was all the better for it.  In those early years, Macrobiotics was an integral teaching that educated consumers as well as farmers to provide the new demands for organic whole foods.  At the time, John would always be planting seeds in his audience’s minds about health and healing and would be energized by the possibilities in changing people’s lives.   He would spend a good amount of time with Michio Kushi and other teachers of the new frontier and always be excited about learning something new.  In 1985 Michio Kushi wrote a book called, The Macrobiotic Way and asked John if he would write a foreword.  With permission from the Kushi Institute I am including the foreword here:

                       Foreword by John Denver

    A few years ago, as I was preparing a major concert tour in the United States, I realized that I wanted to have someone to cook for me and help me to keep my body in good shape while on the road.  I was beginning to eat less and less red meat and sugar, and I knew then I wanted to pursue a “vegetarian” diet. (Albeit, I was and still am a chocoholic, and was a great admirer of ice cream.) Lo and behold, a man named Ron Lemire, who was an expert (professional) cook and masseur, appeared and offered to take on the job.  In the following months, I did 125 concerts in 100 cities across the country. The general procedure was to be out on the road for two weeks, then at home for two weeks.  While on the road and eating Ron’s food, I had incredible energy, great clarity of mind and inner peace (a lack of susceptibility to stress and pressure).  My voice was stronger and clearer than it had ever been, and I felt light and good and healthy.
    At home, following my normal diet, I felt quite different.  The food was very rich, lots of sauces and spices, and sugar and cream.  To be honest, my discipline at home is not what it is on the road, and I could not keep my hands out of the cookie jar or stay away from the ice cream in the refrigerator.  In reality, I didn’t sleep well, felt quite lethargic and stiff, and was more prone to anger or upset—basically, I didn’t feel good.
    Now my Dad and Mom didn’t raise any stupid children. After about five mini-tours, I realized that the only difference in my life on the road and at home was the food I was eating.  Also, I began to notice that there was a pattern or form to the food Ron was giving me on the road.  My main meal in the middle of the day consisted of a soup, a grain, some beans, some steamed vegetables, a salad and a great dessert.  It didn’t seem to be “just vegetarian.” There was a discipline involved; I then began to learn about the Macrobiotic Way, about yin and yang, about balance and about Michio Kushi and his good work.
    Since that time I have had the privilege of getting to know Michio and Aveline, their family and friends in Brookline, Massachusetts, and other macrobiotic friends at East West centers all over the world.  I have had the opportunity to play a small part in their ongoing work to bring about a more healthy and happy life for all people and to create a world of peace.
    In the process, my own feelings of a human family have been strengthened and clarified,  As my knowledge of diet and health increases, so does my conviction.  We can end hunger on this planet.  We can cure cancer and heart disease.  Peace is possible.
    No one is working more energetically or effectively toward those ends than Michio Kushi and his family and friends—all those who follow the Macrobiotic Way.

                                              John Denver
                                            Aspen, Colorado
Copyright c 1985 by Michio Kushi and Stephen Blauer
ISBN 0-89529-222-X(pbk)

    Especially today, I find food to be our best medicine.  I am often available to do talks on Health and Well Being and will even teach cooking classes.  If you are interested, just contact me and we can set something up….Ron

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