Wakame, a sea vegetable gathered in East Asian waters, turns a beautiful, translucent green when cooked. It is customarily eaten in miso soup and prepared in a wide variety of other dishes. High in calcium, iron, vitamin A, B vitamins, and iodine, it helps protect against high blood pressure, cholesterol build up, and other cardiovascular problems. It also has shown to inhibit tumors and neutralize the effects of nuclear radiation. See Nuclear Radiation, Sea Vegetables, Stroke.
• Wakame Inhibits Cholesterol Metabolism
Japanese researchers reported that wakame suppressed the reabsorption of cholesterol in the liver and intestine in laboratory experiments. Other studies showed that hijiki, another sea vegetable, and shiitake mushroom also lowered serum cholesterol and improved fat metabolism. Source: N. Iritani and S. Nogi, “Effects of Spinach and Wakame on Cholesterol Turnover in the Rat,” Atherosclerosis 15:87-92, 1972.
“The fate of nations depends on what they eat,” Brillat-Savarin, a famous French food writer, quipped. The relation between diet and violence is coming under increasing study by physicians, psychologists, anthropologists, and historians. See Crime, Violence, Peace.
• Margaret Mead on Diet and Violence
In a symposium on the anthropology of armed conflict and aggression, anthropologist Margaret Mead suggested that social measures necessary for the prevention of modern warfare might include “radical changes in diet.” “It might be that the production of a social environment in which there were no living creatures used as food
. . . might be sufficient to extinguish the human capacity to kill living things, or, alternatively, might make it socially impossible to modulate and teach the difference between permitted and impermissible killing either of other living things or of other human beings.”
Source: Margaret Mead, “Alternatives to War,” in Morton Fried, Marvin Harris, and Robert Murphy, editors, War: The Anthropology of Armed Conflict and Aggression (Garden City: American Museum of Natural History, 1968), pp. 213-36.
• Diet and the Napoleonic Wars
In a book on diet and peace, two holistic educators offer a case history of Napoleon’s life and career, including the Continental System (the French attempt to monopolize the trade of sugar and other foodstuffs that precipitated the War of 1812), the retreat from Moscow, and Tolstoy’s portrait of Napoleon in War and Peace.
A historian observed that Napoleon’s armies “took white bread with them wherever they went in Europe as a banner of liberation from old dull bran or rye breads.”
Source: Michio Kushi with Alex Jack, One Peaceful World (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986); Hugh Thomas, A History of the World (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), p. 386.
• Diet, Environment, and the History of War
In A Study of War, the principal survey of the origin and cause of conflict, Quincy Wright, an authority in the field of international law and adviser to the U.S. War Department and the Nuremberg Tribunal, concluded that war—especially civilized war in which the taking of human life is a primary objective—is unnatural and that “the trend of evolution has been toward symbiotic relations and perhaps toward vegetarian diet.”
After researching the incidence of human aggression in nearly six hundred primitive cultures, Professor Wright concluded that warfare is more prevalent among societies in which animal food forms a major part of the diet than in societies in which a more vegetarian way of life is practiced. He further arranged the 26 historical civilizations from ancient to modern times according to degrees of warlikeness, based on 25 variables including general social characteristics, frequency of battles, military techniques, and military characteristics. Once again, according to his listing, the vegetarian and semi-vegetarian civilizations generally fall into the peaceful category, while those in which substantial amounts of meat, poultry, fish, or other animal food was consumed tended to be warlike.
He also ranked modern civilizations according to the number of wars fought in the last five centuries and found that the Western meat-eating countries, led by England, were involved in the most wars, while cereal and plant-based countries, such as China and Japan, went to war least often.
Source: Quincy Wright, A Study of War, second edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965).
Wartime Restricted Diets
Paradoxically, overall death rates have sharply declined in the 20th century during eras of war, as rich foods (including meat, sugar, alcohol, and imported items) become unavailable, and people return to basic staples. See Chewing, Tempeh.
• Heart Disease and Cancer Decline During World War I
During World War I, Mikkel Hindhede, M.D., Superintendent of the State Institute of Food Research, persuaded the Danish government to shift its agricultural priorities from raising grain for livestock to producing grain for direct human consumption. Accordingly, in the face of a foreign blockade, the Danes ate primarily barley, whole-rye bread, green vegetables, potatoes, milk, and some butter. In the nation’s capital, the death rate from all causes, including cancer, fell 34 percent during 1917 to 1918. “It was a low protein experiment on a large scale, about 3 million subjects being available,” Hindhede reported to his medical colleagues. “ . . . People entered no complaints; there were no digestive troubles, but we are accustomed to the use of whole bread and we knew how to make such bread of good quality.”
Source: M. Hindhede, “The Effects of Food Restriction During War on Mortality in Copenhagen,” Journal of the American Medical Association 74:381-82, 1920.
• Chronic Diseases Fall During World War II
During World War II, rates of cancer, heart disease, and other degenerative illnesses declined as a result of wartime restrictions on articles in the modern diet. For example, in England and Wales, breast cancer mortality markedly fell as consumption of sugar, meat, and fat declined and consumption of grains and vegetables increased. By 1954, fat consumption returned to prewar levels, and breast cancer levels subsequently climbed to previous levels.
Source: D. M. Ingram, “Trends in Diet and Breast Cancer Mortality in England and Wales, 1928-1977,” Nutrition and Cancer 3(2):75-80, 1982.
• Vietnamese Diet
In April 1965, Professors Suzuki and Sakaida from Japan were captured by Vietnamese revolutionaries. At first they thought they would become malnourished or ill on their meager diet, but as their captivity continued they discovered just the opposite.
“The Vietcong fed us rice and a soup made from wild cassava leaves, every day, three times a day . . . At first we were very worried about such a meager diet. But to our astonishment, none of us ever got ill or tired, despite having to walk 20 or 30 miles a day through thick virgin jungle. . . It’s very odd, but we never got sick with that freshly hulled rice! No sign of malaria either!”
Source: George Ohsawa, The Macrobiotic, 108:4-5.
• American POWs in Vietnam in Superior Health
In 1977 a study of 78 former U.S. Navy prisoners of war in Vietnam showed that they had less endocrine, nutritional, and metabolic diseases, as well as less circulatory, nervous system, genito-urinary, and musculoskeletal diseases, than other Navy pilots. The researchers cited the Vietnamese diet—high in rice and vegetables and low in dietary cholesterol and fat—as a major factor in their better physical health. “In contrast to the life of the POWs during confinement, control group members usually had access to an abundant diet—high in animal fat—to tobacco, to alcohol, and experienced the stresses of their jobs where only excellent performance was rewarded by promotions.”
Source: John A. Plag, Ph.D., “American POWS from Vietnam: Follow-Up Studies of the Subsequent Health and Adjustment of the Men and Their Families” (San Diego: Naval Health Research Center, 1977).
Life would be impossible without water. Like the planet whose surface is largely covered by oceans, human beings consist of about two-thirds water. The volume of water we consume from the moisture in food and the liquid absorbed in cooking also approximates this amount. Water quality is extremely important to our daily health and consciousness.
The ideal is clean, running water from a natural spring that gently rises up from the ground. For people in modern urban society, bottled spring water is the standard and most practical alternative to municipal tap water which usually includes chlorine, fluoride, and other minerals, as well as some of the following: volatile organic chemicals (VOC) and other industrial chemicals, bacteria, total dissolved solids, nitrates, pesticides, radiation, radium, radon, uranium, trihalomethanes and chloroform, metals, and abnormal acidity or alkalinity. Since the 1970s, increased attention has focused on disinfection by-products (DBP) of chlorination, including haloacetates, carcinogens that are formed from the reaction of chlorine with natural organic matter present in surface water.
Municipal tap water is susceptible to contamination. In 1993, for example, both New York City and Washington issued emergency warnings to boil water after E. coli and cryptosporidium, strong toxins, turned up. In Milwaukee, 69 people died and 400,000 became sick from a cryptosporidium outbreak. Bottled water is also subject to contamination. In 1990, Perrier recalled 160 million bottles when traces of benzene were discovered.
In the U.S. consumption of bottled water has increased from 5 to 11 gallons per capita in the last decade. See Animal Wastes, Chemicals, Environement, Fluoridation, Pesticides.
• Animal Waste Biggest Water Polluter
Modern agriculture is the biggest polluter of rivers and streams, contaminating more than 173,000 miles of waterways in the U.S. with chemicals, animal waste runoff, and eroded soils, the Environmental Protection Agency announced. The principal polluter is large livestock feeding operations, which confine thousands of animals to small spaces and produce huge amounts of manure. Giant cattle, hog, chicken, and turkey farms have doubled or tripled in size in recent years and current federal rules are not adequate to deal with the situation, EPA officials stated.
Source: “Agricultural Runoff Found to Be Top Polluter of Waterways, US Says,” Boston Globe, May 14, 1998.
• World Water Shortage
Nearly half a billion people face shortages of fresh water. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, by 2025 that number will soar to 2.8 billion people, or one in every three people on the planet. Today 31 countries, mostly in Africa and the Middle East, are facing water scarcity or stress. By 2025, another 17 countries will face shortages, including India and possibly China. In the U.S., ground water is being used at a rate 25 percent higher than it is being replenished. Meanwhile, over 20 percent of all freshwater fish species are endangered, vulnerable, or recently become extinct.
Source: “Report Says World Water Supply Is Shrinking, Predicts Shortages,” Boston Globe, August 27, 1998.
• Chlorination Causes Cancer
In a study on drinking water sources among a cohort of 28,237 women in Iowa, epidemiologists at the University of Minnesota reported that in comparison with women who used municipal ground-water sources, women with chlorinated municipal surface water sources were at an increased risk of cancer. “A clear dose-response relation was observed between four categories of increasing chloroform levels in finished drinking water and the risk of colon cancer and all cancers combined,” the scientists concluded.
Source: T. J. Doyle et al., “The Association of Drinking Water Source and Chlorination By-Products with Cancer Incidence Among Postmenopausal Women in Iowa,” American Journal of Public Health 87(7):1168-76, 1997.
• High-Fiber Diet Reduces Risk of Chlorinated Water
In a study on colon and rectal cancer, scientists at the National Cancer Institute reported that persons with high-fiber intake exposed to chlorinated water and its byproducts for many decades were two-and-a-half times less likely to contract these disorders than individuals with low-fiber intake.
Source: M. E. Hildesheim et al., “Drinking Water Source and Chlorinatiion Byproducts,” Epidemiology 9(1):29-35, 1998.
• Treated Water Linked to Higher Cancer Rates in Taiwan
Chlorination is used widely in Taiwan to disinfect drinking water. Researchers at Kaohsiung Medical College in Taiwan investigated the effects of chlorination and found that municipalities in which 90 percent of the population was exposed to treated water had higher rates of cancer of the rectum, lung, bladder, and kidney than communities in which less than 5 percent of the population was exposed.
Source: C. Y. Yang et al., “Chlorinatioin of Drinking Water and Cancer Mortality in Taiwan,” Environmental Research 78(1):106, 1998.
• Nitrate in Water Linked to Lymphoma
Nitrate, a contaminant of drinking water, especially in rural wells, is associated with increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In a case-control study in Nebraska, scientists at the national Cancer Institute reported that long-term exposure to elevated nitrate levels in drinking water may contribute to the risk of this disease.
Source: M. H. Ward, “Drinking Water Nitrate and the Risk of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma,” Epidemiology 7(5):465-71, 1996.
• Aluminum-Rich Water Associated with Alzheimer’s
In England doctors reported that water prepared in aluminum coffee pots showed 30 times as much aluminum as the acceptable level recommended by the World Health Organization. Boiling the water caused the levels of aluminum to rise from 22 mcg. to 1,640 mcg. in a liter of water. Another team of British researchers found a causal connection between aluminum concentrations in drinking water in 88 counties in England and Wales over a 10-year period and reported incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Sources: James A. Jackson, Hugh Riordan, and C. Milton Poling, “Aluminum from a Coffee Pot,” [Letter], Lancet 1:781, 1989; C.N. Martyn et al., “Geographical Relation Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Aluminium in Drinking Water,” Lancet, January 14, 1989, pp. 59-62.
• Fluoridation Linked to Increased Hip Fractures
Drinking fluoridated water may increase the risk of hip fractures in older people. In a Utah study, women living in Brigham City which has added fluoride to its water supply since 1966 were 30 percent more likely to suffer hip fractures than those living in two other communities that did not fluoridate their water.
Source: Christa Danielson et al., “Hip Fractures and Fluoridation in Utah’s Eldery Population,” Journal of the American Medical Association 268:746-48, 1992.
Watercress, native to Asia, Europe, and North America, has a bright green color, pungent, slightly bitter taste, and soft texture that makes it a popular green in salads, soups, and other dishes. High in calcium, vitamins A and C, and other nutrients, its fiber aids in digestion. In traditional Far Eastern medicine, watercress is especially strengthening to the lungs, large intestine, and liver.
• Watercress Reduces Lymphocyte DNA Damage
In a randomized crossover study, researchers at the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health, University of Ulster, fed 85 grams of raw watercress daily to 30 healthy men and 30 women (with an age range of 19 to 55) for 8 weeks in addition to their normal diet. Watercress supplementation was associated with reductions in DMA damage in lymphocytes and increase in lutein and beta-carotene. “The results support the theory that consumption of watercress can be linked to a reduced risk of cancer via decreased damage to DNA and possible modulation of antioxidant status by increasing carotenoid concentrations,” they scientists concluded.
Source: C. I. Gill et al., “Watercress Supplementation in Diet Reduces Lymphocyte DNA Damage and Alters Blood Antioxidant Status in Healthy Adults,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 85(2):504-10, 2007.
• Watercress Protects Against Breast Cancer
In a study of the inhibitory effects of watercress and broccoli, researchers at the National University of Singapore reported that extracts of these vegetables suppressed induced cancer cell invasion and tumor development in vitro. “The inhibitory effects observed in the current study may contribute to the suppression of carcinogenesis by diets high in cruciferous vegetables,” the researchers concluded.
Source: P. Rose et al., “Broccoli and Watercress Suppress Matrix Metalloproteinase-9 Activity and Invasiveness of Human MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cells,” Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, 209(2):105-13, 2005.
• Watercress Protects Against Lung Cancer
Watercress contains phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), a substance that protects against lung cancer. In a study of 11 smokers, researchers at the American Health Foundation in Valhalla, N.Y. reported that consumption of 2 ounces of watercress at each meal for 3 days resulted in an increase elimination of a product of NNK, a tobacco-specific lung carcinogen, in the urine.
Source: S. S. Hecht et al., “Effects of Watercress Consumption on Metabolism of a Tobacco-Specific Lung Carcinogen in Smokers,” Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers Prev 4(8):877-84, 1995.
• Watercress Eliminates Tylenol Like Drugs from the Blood
In a study of the effect of watercress on the metabolism of acetaminophen, a family of analgesic drugs (including the brand name Tylenol), researchers at the Laboratory for Cancer Research at Rutgers University reported that the ingestion of watercress in human volunteers resulted in a reduction of cysteine acetaminopen in the blood by up to 55 percent. The drugs, administered to treat mild or moderate pain, including headache, toothache, and rheumatism, may cause digestive upsets, and overdosage can cause liver damage.
Source: L. Chen et al., “Decrease of Plasma and Urinary Oxidative Metabolites of Acetaminophen after Consumption of Watercress by Human Volunteers,” Clinical Pharmacology Therapy 60(6):651-60, 1996.
One of the benefits of eating natural foods is losing weight. When people start eating grains and vegetables, they usually lose 10 to 20 pounds or more in the first few weeks. Sometimes weight loss is rapid as the body begins to discharge accumulated excess from the past. However, over time, it generally goes up again slightly and then stabilizes at a healthy level. See Eating Disorders, Obesity.
• A Natural Approach
In his book on obesity and weight loss, educator Michio Kushi explains the development of obesity, the origin of hunger, and natural approaches to losing and gaining weight.
Source: Michio Kushi with John D. Mann, A Natural Approach—Obesity, Weight Loss, and Eating Disorders (Tokyo and New York: Japan Publications, 1987).
Wheat is native to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The world’s #1 grain, it is the principal staple in North America, China, and many other countries where its flour is made into bread, noodles, pasta, dumplings, and baked goods. High in protein, fiber, calcium, iron, and B-vitamins, wheat is strengthening especially to the liver and gallbladder. Wheat flour is used as a stabilizing agent in many home remedies. See Bread, Muscular Dystrophy, Seitan, Ulcer, Whole Grains.
• Refined Flour Contributes to Short Life
In the early 19th century, in feeding trials with animals, M. Magendie, a French scientist, found that refined flour was unable to support life. “A dog fed on fine white bread and water, both at discretion, does not live beyond the fiftieth day. . . . A dog fed on the coarse [barley] bread of the military, lives and keeps his health.”
Source: C. Londe, “On Aliment,” Lancet 10:829-35, 1826.
• Whole Wheat Superior to White Flour in Metabolic Effects
In laboratory experiments, researchers in Australia reported that rats fed whole wheat flour had lower cholesterol concentrations than those fed white flour. They also had improved excretions of steroids and less acidity than animals fed the refined diet. The experimenters concluded that different kinds of flour produced different metabolic effects and “may have similar actions in other species including humans.”
Source: M. Choct et al., “White and Wholemeal Flours from Wheats of Low and Higher Apparent Metabolizable Energy Differ in Their Nutritional Effects in Rats,” Journal of Nutrition 128(2):234-38, 1998.
Whole grains have been humanity’s staple food from earliest times. From wild grasses, cultivated cereal grains developed. Beginning in the 16th century, grain consumption began to decline as improvements in breeding made beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and other animal foods widely available. By the 19th and early 20th centuries, milling came into use, and refined grains and grain products, especially white flour and white rice, displaced whole grains. By the late 20th century, the importance of whole grains had been rediscovered, first by the natural foods movement and later by the medical and scientific community. Today, governments and health agencies around the world recommend that the consumption of whole grains be increased and form the foundation of a healthy diet.
See Asthma, Barley, Brown Rice, Candida, Cancer, Cerebral Palsy, Children’s Health, Children’s Lunch Programs, Colon Cancer, Complex Carbohydrates, Diabetes, Food Guide Pyramid, Lymphoma, Macrobiotics, Millet, Oats, Peace, Rice, Rye, Selenium, Skin Problems, Stroke, Ulcer, War-Restricted Diet, Wheat, World Hunger.
• Whole Grains Protect Against Heart Disease
In a study on the effects of whole grains in elderly populations, researchers at the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland, evaluated the nutritional status of 535 healthy people aged 60 to 98 based on dietary records between 1981 and 1984. The subjects kept a 3-day food record and had their blood tested for metabolic risk factors in 1995. The study found that the intake of whole grain consumption protected against death from cardiovascular disease independent of demographic, lifestyle, or other dietary factors. Fasting glucose concentrations and body mass index also progressively decreased, while intake of refined grains raised these levels and the risk of chronic disease. “Whole-grain intake is a modifiable dietary risk factor, and older and young adults should be encouraged to increase their daily intake to three or more servings daily,” the researchers concluded.
Source: N. R. Sahyoun et al., “Whole-Grain Intake Is Inversely Associated with the Metabolic Syndrome and Mortality in Older Adults,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 83(1):124-31, 2006.
• Superiority of Whole Grains to Refined Grains
In a study of the mechanisms by which whole grains protect against chronic disease, researchers at the University of Minnesota identified several components: 1) compounds that affect the gut environment, including dietary fiber, resistant starch, and other indigestible compounds; 2) compounds that function as antioxidants such as trace minerals and phenolic compounds, 3) compounds that are phytoestrogens with potential hormonal effects, and 4) mechanistic effects such as binding of carcinogens and modulation of glycemic index.
The researchers particularly emphasized that these protective effects are found in whole grains in contrast to refined grains. For example, coarse bran from whole wheat has a greater fecal-bulking effect than finely ground wheat bran, "suggesting that the particle size of the whole grain is an important factor in determining physiological effect."
They also questioned the search for a "magic bullet" nutrient that would explain biologic mechanisms as opposed to comprehensive effects of the whole food. In this regard, they questioned the conventional nutritional view that phytic acid, which is abundant in whole grains, acts as an antinutrient because of its potential to bind minerals. In whole form, they suggest, phytic acid in grains serves as an antioxidant and serves to suppress oxidant damage to intestinal epithelium and neighboring cells.
Lignans, phytoestrogens found in whole grains and other plant foods, help to mediate hormone-related diseases. In whole grains, the lignans appear to be contained in the outer layers of the grain. "Because current processing techniques eliminate this fraction of the grain," the researchers noted, "lignans may not be found in processed grain products on the market and would only be found in whole-grain foods." They cited studies showing that people eating a macrobiotic, vegetarian, or semivegetarian diet in contrast to the modern diet excrete high amounts of lignans in their urine which is considered a protective factor for estrogen-related diseases and conditions. The scientists noted that sea vegetables, whole legumes, vegetables, and fruits, as well as certain seeds used for oil, contain lignans, in addition to whole grains. The phytochemicals in whole grains also include agents that block initial DNA damage and suppress postinitiation processes of tumor development. While many of the protective components in whole grains are also found in vegetables and fruits, they "are more concentrated in whole grains."
"Thus whole grains offer a wide range of substances that appear to protect against degenerative disease," the authors conclude. "The most potent protective components of whole grains need identification so efforts can be directed to minimize the losses of physiologically important constituents of grains during processing. Education efforts to increase intake of whole grains to recommended levels are also needed."
Source: J. Slavin et al., “Whole Grain Consumption and Chronic Disease: Protective Mechanisms,” Nutrition and Cancer 27(1):14-21, 1997.
• Whole Grains Protective Against Various Cancers
In a review of 54 case-control studies spanning 20 types of cancer and colon polyps, researchers at the University of Minnesota reported that people with high intakes of whole grain had 20 to 50 percent less risk of most malignancies, including colorectal cancer and polyps, gastric and other digestive tract cancers, hormone-related cancers, and pancreatic cancer. There was a slightly less protective risk for breast and prostate cancers. “The case-control evidence is supportive of the hypothesis that whole-grain intake protects against various cancers,” the researchers stated.
Source: D. R. Jacobs et al., “Whole-Grain Intake and Cancer,” Nutrition and Cancer 30(2):85-96, 1998.
• Whole Grains Reduce Risk of Cancers
In a review of case-control studies in Italy between 1983 and 1996 involving 15,000 people, researchers reported that high intake of whole grain foods consistently reduced risk of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, larynx, breast, endometrium, ovary, prostate, bladder, kidney, lymphatic system, and multiple myelomas. Reduced risk ranged from 10 to 80 percent depending on the site. The only site in which an inverse relation was found was the thyroid.
The researchers emphasized that the protective effects were observed only with whole grains and their products in contrast to refined grains. Refined bread, pasta, or rice, they noted, are associated with elevated risk of stomach and colorectal cancer.
Source: L. Chatenoud et al., “Whole Grain Food Intake and Cancer Risk,” International Journal of Cancer 77(1):24-28, 1998.
• Whole Grains Protect Against Heart Disease
In a study of 34,492 postmenopausal women aged 55 to 69, University of Minnesota researchers reported that those who consumed the highest amount of whole grains were 30 to 50 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease. The scientists said the protective effect of whole grains was independent of its fiber content or several other constituents.
Source: D. R. Jacobs et al., “Whole-Grain Intake May Reduce the Risk of Ischemic Heart Disease Death in Postmenopausal Women,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 68(2):248-57, 1998.
• Whole Grains, High in Vitamin E, Protect Against Colon Cancer
In a large prospective cohort study of 35,215 Iowa nurses, researchers found that women who consumed foods high in Vitamin E or took supplements high in this nutrient developed significantly less colon cancer. Vitamin E is high in whole grains, seeds and nuts, and other vegetable-quality foods.
Source: R. M. Bostick, “Reduced Risk of Colon Cancer with High Vitamin E,” Cancer Research September 13, 1993.
• Whole Grains Protect Against Colon Cancer
Men in Finland consume a lot of fat and have the highest heart disease rate in the industrialized world. Yet they have one of the lowest colon cancer rates (one-third that of the U.S.). Researchers around the world have found that whole cereal grains protect against colon cancer by reducing bile acid concentrates in the large intestine and giving bulk to the feces. Investigators found that Finnish men consume high amounts of whole rye bread and had bowel movements three times bulkier than men in other Western countries as well as reduced amounts of bile acid buildup.
Source: H. N. Englyst el al., “Nonstarch Polysaccharide Concentrations in Four Scandinavian Populations,” Nutrition & Cancer 4:50-60-, 1982.
• Whole Grains Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk by 40%
Eating more whole grains, vegetables, and fruit may lower a person’s risk for colorectal cancer by up to 40 percent. Researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia looked at 37 studies involving 10,000 people in 15 countries and reported that those who ate a diet high in whole grains and other plant-quality foods had about 40 percent less risk of this disease.
Source: Bruce Tock, Elaine Lanza, and Peter Greenwald, “Dietary Fiber, Vegetables, and Colon Cancer: Critical Review and Meta-analyses of the Epidemiologic Evidence,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 82:650-661, 1990.
• Grain-Based Diet Beneficial for Coronary Heart Disease
Although Americans are consuming less fat than previously, women on an average still consume 36 percent of their daily calories from fat, more than twice the recommended amount. Women who eat grains and vegetables and fish instead of land animals for protein have healthier hearts. Women who eat vegetables and fruits high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, and other antioxidants can reduce their risk of heart attack by one-third. Dietary changes can also reduce obesity, which is associated with a threefold increase in coronary risk.
Source: Jane E. Brody, “The Leading Killer of Women: Heart Disease,” New York Times, Nov. 10, 1993.
• High-Fiber Diet Replaces Drugs for Diabetes
In tests of a high-fiber complex carbohydrates diet on 13 diabetic men, aged 30 to 35, five of the men taking oral hypoglycemics were able to discontinue them, four more were able to stop their insulin therapies, and all the others showed some reduction in blood glucose and cholesterol levels. “Every patient that we have treated with the HCF diet has gained some improvement in his or her diabetes. . . we have been able to discontinue insulin therapy in 18 out of 20 patients taking less than 25 units per day . . . [the HCF diets] lower insulin needs by an average of 25 percent,” according to James Anderson, a professor of medicine and clinical nutrition who directs a diabetes program at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky.
Source: James Anderson, M.D., Diabetes: A Practical New Guide to Healthy Living (New York: Arco, 1981), pp. 97-98.
• Whole Grains May Offset Diverticulosis
Diverticulosis can be prevented and relieved with a high fiber diet. In a study of 62 diverticulosis patients put on a high-fiber diet, 85 percent experienced complete disappearance of their symptoms.
Source: P. Berman and J. B. Kirsner, “Current Knowledge of Diverticular Diseases of the Colon,” American Journal of Digestive Diseases 17:741-59, 1972.
• Whole Grain Diet Reverses Leukemia
In 1972 a Japanese scientist reported that leukemia in chickens could be reversed by feeding them a mixture of whole grains and salt. The experiment was conducted by Keiichi Morishita, M.D., technical chief for the Tokyo Red Cross Blood Center and vice president of the New Blood Association.
Source: K. Morishita, M.D., The Hidden Truth of Cancer (San Francisco: George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation, 1972).
• Whole Grains Reduce Risk of Lymphoma
In a study of diet and lymphatic cancer, Italian scientists reported that in a case-control study involving over 1600 people, whole grain consumption reduced the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by 60 percent and soft tissue sarcomas by 80 percent. A high consumption of green vegetables was also protective.
Source: A Tavani et al., “Diet and Risk of Lymphoid Neoplasms and Soft Tissue Sarcomas,” Nutrition and Cancer 27(3):256-60, 1997.
• Whole Grains Reduce Cancer Risk
In a review of 14 case-control studies of colorectal, gastric, and endometrial cancers, researchers found that high consumptions of whole grains consistently lowered risk. "The case-control evidence is supportive of the hypothesis that whole-grain intake protects against various cancers."
Source: D. R. Jacobs et al., "Whole-Grain Intake and Cancer," Nutrition and Cancer 30(2):85-96, 1998.
Wild rice, native to Minnesota and other northern regions, has a harmonious taste, texture, and color that makes it a favorite in festive cooking.
Red wine may reduce the risk of heart disease, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin. In France where red wine is customarily drunk, 75 people die from fatal heart attacks per 100,000 population versus 200 deaths in the United States. Dr. John D. Folts, senior researcher, speculated that flavonoids in red wine may suppress clotting. The flavonoids are abundant in grape seeds from which red, but not white, wine is made. In a test of his theory, Folts told the American College of Cardiology that volunteers who drank red wine showed 39 percent slower clotting in their blood platelets 45 minutes after drinking than subjects who drank white wine. Blood clots are believed to play a key role in heart attacks and certain strokes.
Source: Daniel Q. Haney, "Red Wine Again Tied to Heart Health, Boston Globe, March 15, 1994.
Though women live longer than men, they are sick longer. They are apt to suffer from arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, and the overall health of the population is worsening. Overall, women get osteoporosis and migraines five times more often as men. They suffer serious depression twice as much, and they are up to 90 percent more susceptible to immune-defi-ciency diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma. Women also have more constipation and slightly more colon cancer.
On average, American men have a life expectancy of 60 years in good health and 12 years in poor health, while women have 63 in good health and 16 in illness.
Meanwhile, rates of degenerative disease in women are rising at an alarming rate. In the United States, breast cancer incidence rose from 1 in 9 women to 1 in 8 women in just two years, and it has been declared an epidemic in some states. Lung cancer rates, associated with higher fat consumption and smoking, are increasing more rapidly in the female than male population.
Heart disease, however, remains the greatest threat to women’s health, killing between one in two and one in three women. Younger women are more immune than men because of menstruation, but by age 65 a woman’s risk of suffering a heart attack is almost the same as a man’s. Moreover, women are twice as likely to die as men after a heart attack and are less likely to survive surgery and other conventional treatments.
Women are also more likely to be harmed by tobacco and alcohol.
On the plus side, women are generally more aware of alternative approaches to health than men and are more likely to change their diet and try other holistic therapies. See AIDS, Breast Cancer, Breast-feeding, Cancer, Carrots, Dairy, Menopause, Menstrual Cycle, Osteoporosis, Premenstrual Syndrome, Sea Vegetables, Whole Grains.
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO, a division of the United Nations, is devoted to promoting human health and protecting against disease. WHO dietary guidelines are significantly different from those of the U.S. government and other national and international agencies and are oriented more to the plant-centered diets of traditional cultures and civilizations. See Disease Rates, Incan Diet, Mediterranean Diet, Water.
• WHO Dietary Guidelines
In 1991, a panel of United Nations nutritional experts issued a report, Diet, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, commissioned by the World Health Organization, calling for developing countries to avoid the modern way of eating as the best way to prevent cancer, heart disease, and other degenerative diseases. The Executive Summary noted:
• “Compared with the diet that fueled human evolution, today’s affluent diet has twice the amount of fat, a much higher ratio of saturated to unsaturated fatty acids, a third of the daily fiber intake, much more sugar and sodium, fewer complex carbohydrates, and a reduced intake of micronutrients. Throughout the world, the adoption of such a diet, foreign to human biology, has been accompanied by a major increase in the incidence of chronic diseases
• “An epidemic of cancers, heart disease and other chronic ills need not be the inevitable price paid for the privilege of socioeconomic progress.
• “Foods of animal origin are no longer viewed as dominant items in an optimum healthy diet.
• “Authorities in developing countries are cautioned not to imitate agriculture, farming, food production and promotion policies that were designed to emphasize the production of animal products and the difficulty of altering such policies now apparent in many wealthy nations, serves as a further warning against their introduction.
• “Chronic diseases are, to a large extent, manifestations of nutrient excesses and imbalances in the diet and are thus largely preventable. An epidemic of cancers, heart disease, and other chronic ills need not be the inevitable price paid for the privilege of socioeconomic progress.”
Source: World Health Organization, 1991.
World hunger is caused primarily by social and economic policies that have displaced traditional farmers from their land and forced them to seek employment and refuge in cities and slums. Typically, the land that was once devoted to growing grains, vegetables, and other staples is consolidated into large plantations to grow coffee, bananas, or other commodity crop for export. Meanwhile, most of the world’s grain is fed to cattle and other animals to produce beef, chicken, and other products for consumption in the developed world. See Environment.
• Grain Fed to Animals Underlying Cause of World Hunger
In 1971, Frances Moore Lappé compiled information showing that there was enough food to end world hunger but from 50 to 90 percent of the world’s grain was fed to livestock rather than people. To get one pound of beef, it takes 18 pounds of grain and soybeans; pork, six pounds; turkey, four pounds; eggs, three pounds; chicken, three pounds. Meanwhile, pounds of usable protein per acre were tabulated as follows: 356 pounds from soybeans; 260 pounds from rice; 211 pounds from corn; 192 pounds from other legumes; 138 pounds from wheat; 82 pounds from milk; 75 pounds from eggs; 45 pounds from meat of all kinds; and 20 pounds from beef.
Source: Frances Moore Lappé, Diet for a Small Planet (New York: Ballantine, 1971).
• Sowing Seeds to Prevent Hunger
For over 40 years, Masanobu Fukuoka has devoted himself to natural farming. His methods of raising crops without cultivation, chemicals, and even organic compost have resulted in high yields, fertile strains of seed, and improved quality of the soil.
“In my experience, after the seeds are scattered, crops will grow without cultivation, weeding, fertilizer, or pruning,” he explained. “Because different kinds of plants are mixed together, they do not attract the birds, insects, or other pests that commonly invade gardens and farms cultivated with only one variety. Tractors and other heavy machinery that compact and harden the soil are a major cause of erosion and infertility. They destroy microorganisms and other small life that build up the tilth of the soil.”
Since publication of his book The One-Straw Revolution, he has increasingly devoted himself to global problems. On a visit to Somalia, Ethiopia, and other drought-stricken areas of Africa, he discovered that people traditionally used natural farming methods.
In experiments in his native Japan, Fukuoka devised a method to revegetate barren lands by sowing seeds in clay pellets. The pellets are prepared by mixing the seeds of green manure trees, such as acacia that grow in areas of minimal rainfall, and the seeds of clover and alfalfa with grain and vegetable seeds. The mixture of seeds is coated first with a layer of soil, then one of clay, to form clay pellets containing microbes. These completed pellets can then be scattered over the deserts and savannahs. Once scattered, the seeds will not sprout until rain has fallen and conditions for germination are right. Nor will they be eaten by insects, birds, or mice.
“To restore green belts in Africa, seed mixtures can be scattered from airplanes,” he proposed. “If this method proves successful, I would like to see the air forces of the world distribute seeds across desertified regions of the planet on a vast scale. Let’s launch seeds from the air, not missiles. Freedom and peace with the land begin with natural farming methods. Grains and trees know no artificial boundaries. . . . Everything starts from the family garden. Through natural farming, the destructive course of civilization can be changed. Once again, the earth can be transformed into a paradise of peace and happiness with enough food for everyone.”
Source: Mananobu Fukuoka, “Bringing Back the Rains,” Return to Paradise, Winter 1988-89, p. 16.