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Newsletter November 2011 ..
From Our Executive Director: Macrobiotics for Physical Strength
Red Meat Linked to Diabetes and Cancer
Where's The Protein?
An Inpiring Hashimoto's Story
Making a Difference

Olaf Fischer Kushi Institute Executive Director
Olaf Fischer

From our Executive Director     


Macrobiotics For Physical Strengh  


Greetings from the Beautiful Berkshires,


One of the most frequent questions I get about macrobiotics has to do with physical strength. Most people believe that there is a direct correlation between a diet heavy in meat and physical strength. That's why I'm not surprised when people think that a diet without dairy and meat, and heavy on vegetables, beans and whole grains, might not translate into physical strength; especially since most people practicing a macrobiotic lifestyle are thin.


I have been personally practicing macrobiotics for many years, and am very physically active. Being a triathlete, I bike and run a lot, and kayak since the annual triathlon I participate in has a kayak instead of a swim component. This will change next year as I'm planning to participate in the New York City Triathlon as well, which means I have to start swimming again. During the winter months I go skiing at every opportunity I have. Leading a macrobiotic lifestyle has not weakened me or prevented me from leading the active life I love. On the contrary, when I started cutting out meat and dairy from my diet, my performance and endurance improved dramatically.  


But don't take only my word for it. There is growing evidence that the consumption of a vegetarian diet can enhance athletic performance. This seems particularly significant in areas of physical endurance.  


Even as far back as 1907, a study by Yale University showed how eating different types of foods affects endurance. (Fisher, Irving et al., "The Influence of Flesh Eating on Endurance," Yale Medical Journal, 13(5):205-221, 1907) In the study, three groups were compared: meat-eating athletes, vegetarian athletes, and vegetarian sedentary subjects.   


Researchers found of the three groups:

  • Meat eaters showed far less endurance than vegetarians, even when the latter were leading a sedentary life
  • The difference in endurance between the meat eaters and the vegetarians (was due) entirely to the difference in their diet.
  • There is strong evidence that a non-meat diet is conducive to endurance.

In a related study, Danish investigators (Astrand, Per-Olaf, Nutrition Today 3(2): 9-11, 1986) studied the effects of diet on levels of endurance. In this study, a group of men was put on three different diets on three separate occasions, each time tested to measure endurance utilizing a stationary bicycle. The time it took to reach muscle failure was recorded for each participant.  

  • In the first trial the men were fed a mixed diet of animal and plant products. Under this first trial condition, the average time to reach muscle failure was 114 minutes.
  • In the second trial these same men were fed a diet high in animal products. The time to reach muscle failure on the stationary bicycle this time was an average of 57 minutes. 
  • In the third trial the men ate a pure vegetarian diet of vegetables, grains, and fruit. It was in this final condition that the men performed the best. The average time to reach muscle failure was 167 minutes.

There are many prominent athletes out there who are vegetarians. Dave Scott, six time winner of the IronMan Triathlon, is undisputedly one of today's greatest triathletes. He is vegetarian. Edwin Moses, an Olympic Gold Medalist, went eight years without ever being defeated in the 400 meter hurdles. He is also vegetarian. Even in bodybuilding, there are world-class vegetarians. Bill Pearl and Andreas Cahling have placed among the top in national and international competitions.


While the macrobiotic diet is considered to be "plant-based" and "whole-foods", as it is most commonly practiced, it is not strictly vegetarian as consuming fish up to a few times a week is an option. Avoiding (or rarely consuming) meat, poultry and dairy products is recommended. Those who prefer to be vegan can easily adjust macrobiotics to exclude animal products.  


Of course, greater physical strength and endurance are just some of the many benefits of macrobiotics - other benefits include better overall health and greater happiness. 


In Peace and Health,


Olaf Fischer 

Red Meat Linked to Increased Risk of Diabetes and Cancer

 By Mirea Ellis  


Red Meat and Type 2 Diabetes  


A recent large-scale study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health*, showed a strong correlation between consumption of red meat and type 2 diabetes.


Meat Sandwich 


Published August 10, 2011 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found  "A daily 100-gram serving of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a deck of cards) was associated with a 19% increased risk of type 2 diabetes."   


They also found that one daily serving of half that quantity of processed meat (for example, one hot dog or sausage or two slices of bacon) was associated with a 51% increased risk.


image of bowl of brown rice
Replacing red meat with whole grains, like brown rice, was linked to
reduced diabetes risk.

When red meat was replaced by specific foods diabetes risk was reduced, and whole grains provided a 23% reduced risk, the highest percentage compared with other food substitutions. (See the article to the right on getting adequate protein on a plant-based diet)


The findings on the benefits of whole grains come as no surprise to us. They are a staple food in macrobiotics, and people with type 2 diabetes who have attended Kushi Institute's week-long Way to Health program have commonly needed to greatly reduce, or even eliminate, their diabetes medications by the end of the program.  


We have also done a small study on diabetes, in which 13 people with type 2 diabetes were at Kushi Institute for a week, under medical supervision. Click here to watch a short video where study participants talk about their great results during the week, and see information on our extended weekend program Healing Diabetes and Hypoglycemia.   


Red Meat and Cancer  


In 1984, Michio Kushi's groundbreaking book, The Cancer Prevention Diet was published. In it he links specific foods and lifestyle choices to either contributing to cancer or helping relieve cancer. Red meat is one of the factors Michio related to higher risk for certain cancers.  


Since that time many studies have come out with very similar conclusions to Michio's on the role of red meat in cancer. Click here to see more information and research studies on red meat and cancer complied by The Cancer Project, a non-profit organization advancing cancer prevention and survival through nutrition education and research founded by Neal Barnard, M.D., well-known clinical researcher and author.   


The Cancer Prevention Diet

Revised and updated in 2010, The Cancer Prevention Diet continues to be an outstanding resource for information on the macrobiotic approach to cancer.


* For more information on the Harvard School of Public Health research study click here.

Where's the Protein?
by Mirea Ellis

Many people think of meat, or other animal products, as "protein", and think of protein as an important component of muscles. They wonder, "How can we have strong muscles without eating animal products?"  


Proteins are molecules made of different combinations of the approximately 20 amino acids present in animals. While this may seem simple to understand, what proteins do for us is complex. Large protein molecules can have hundreds to thousands of amino acid units. There are around one hundred thousand different proteins, which serve various functions in the body. Some are in solution in blood and other body fluids, others are in solid structures of tissue, bone and hair, and many have regulatory functions as enzymes.


We need to obtain 10 amino acids from the food we eat, and these are termed "essential" amino acids.

The body synthesizes all the remaining amino acids.  When a food item is said to have "complete protein", it indicates it contains all the essential amino acids in sufficient amounts. 


While animal products contain complete protein, it is also easy to get complete protein on a plant-based diet. The key is to consume a variety of plant foods, and include both whole grains and beans on a regular basis. This is because while most plant foods contain some of each of the essential amino acids, in many plants foods they are not in ideal ratios. In general, grains are higher in some amino acids and beans are higher in others. Together they supply what we need for complete protein.    


Macro Plate 

There are some plant sources of complete protein, including: soy beans, quinoa, and many seeds, nuts, and sea vegetables. However, rather than only focusing on protein, it is more important in menu planning to include a wide variety of plant foods, as this will provide the many nutritional components necessary for great health.  


In future Kushi Institute Newsletter issues look for articles on combining different types of foods, along with other meal planing factors, to support optimal health and well-being. 




Programs and Events Calendar

Kushi Institute programs are a life-changing experience!


click on program or event names
or other links for more information

Annual Thanksgiving Feast 

Starting at 6:00 p.m.  Menu 

November 24 


November 24 - 27   


Way to Health    7 days   

The best program for those facing
health challenges.  

Offered every month!  Upcoming dates:

November 27 - December 3  

January 22 - 28   

Way to Health PLUS    7 days  

Our most hands-on cooking program.

You can also combine with the  

Way to Health program for a 2-week stay.

Offered most months. Upcoming dates:

November 6 - 12

December 4 - 10

January 29 - February 4   


MINI Way to Health    4 days 

Selected classes from Way to Health.

A great introduction to macrobiotics,

or for those who need a shorter program. 

Offered most months! Upcoming dates:

November 17 - 20

January 19 - 22 


Macrobiotic Leadership
Program (Levels) 

The most in-depth and comprehensive macrobiotic program available!

Attend from one week to three months.

Next series of Levels starts January 8


New Year's Meditation Retreat 
More information coming soon!
December 28 - January 1  

To see other programs and
the full calendar click here.  

Janine Atkinson Portrait
How Macrobiotics Helped Janine Atkinson with Hashimoto's

Hashimoto's is a devastating autoimmune disease of the thyroid that most commonly develops in women ages 30 to 50.

Yet Janine Atkinson came down with it in her teens.

Before Hashimoto's she had been a happy, social girl with a super-active life as a student involved with drama, dance and singing. 

Hashimoto's changed her life drastically. Her energy was so low she could do very little. Other symptoms included depression, fatigue, cold hands and feet, shaking muscles and hands, an inability to focus and think, hypoglycemia, weight fluctuation, painful periods, and symptoms resembling irritable bowel syndrome. Janine was told by her doctors "I would be infertile, my symptoms would never go away, and I would be lucky to live a fulfilled life."

Medical drugs and procedures including an operation to remove her thyroid did not do much to improve her symptoms, and they continued to progress. After years of suffering she decided to see an acupuncturist. Until that point not one of her doctors or therapists had discussed her eating habits with her, or mentioned to her how processed and sugary foods could be affecting her health. The acupuncturist recommended dietary changes, and suggested that Janine read books including Jessica Porter's The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics. She also suggested Janine attend Kushi Institute's Macrobiotic Leadership Program. Greatly inspired by the Hip Chick's Guide, Janine decided to come to Kushi Institute.

Janine helping at South River Miso rice paddyAfter completing 13 weeks of the Leadership Program (Levels 1, 2 and 3, plus the first session of Level 4) Janine has stayed on as a volunteer, helping prepare daily meals in the Kushi Institute Kitchen. Her life is once again very active, and her symptoms are greatly reduced.

In the picture to the right Janine is helping to plant rice on a Kushi Institute field trip to South River Miso Company.

To read Janine's full story click

Do you have a story on how macrobiotics helped you? Sharing it through our newsletter can inspire others and give them hope! If you are interested, please email info@kushiinstitute.org.

 Help Make A Real Difference
In Someone's Life
Mother and Daughter 

Each year Kushi Institute provides a significant number of people with scholarships for the Way to Health program, where they learn how to  

use the macrobiotic approach to health and healing to improve their health.


Those who receive scholarships are facing a serious illness and have very  

limited funds. Most often, these individuals have had a drastic decline in  

income due to loss of health, and cannot attend the Way to Health program without a scholarship.


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