Abundant Michael: Food

Is dirty food healthier for you and your children?

Could the rise in auto-immune diseases like hay fever, asthma, diabetes and even autism over the last 150 years be linked to a corresponding drop in rural living with "dirty" food rich in bacteria and parasites?

So begins An Epidemic of Absence, Velasquez-Manoff‘s new book about a tantalizing hypothesis for a modern medical mystery: Why autoimmune diseases, in which a person’s immune system attacks their own body, are becoming more common, even as infectious and parasitic diseases are beaten back. (Read an excerpt from the book)


According to Velasquez-Manoff and the scientists he writes about, it’s no coincidence. A fast-growing body of research suggests that immune systems, produced by millions of years of evolution in a microbe-rich world, rely on certain exposures to calibrate themselves. Disrupt those exposures, as we have through modern medicine, food and lifestyle, and things go haywire.


We know tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, came out of Africa with us. It’s been in the human body for at least 60,000 years, and probably longer. But beginning in the late 18th century, there was a wave of TB in Europe, and nobody has ever really been able to explain it. Some people argue that a more virulent strain emerged, and there is some evidence for that when they look at the genetics of it. But there’s another hypothesis.


According to this, we had to acquire immunity to tuberculosis because of constant exposure to non-parasitic versions of mycobacteria that basically live in soil. But Europe begins to urbanize in the 18th century. The potato is imported from the Americas, causes a population boom, and people start migrating to cities. They lose the mycobacteria in the natural setting. And without that exposure, immune systems didn’t know how to react to it.


Wired: Why is our exposure to parasites and microbes so different now than it was 100 years ago, or 500 years ago?


Velasquez-Manoff: Let’s imagine people living in a rural environment, with lots of animals around. That’s the first thing that’s different. We were constantly exposed to each others’ fecal microbes: Feces was on our hands, and we fertilized our crops with it. People were fermenting food or drying it.


Today’s processed food is designed not to carry microbes. It’s full of salt and sugar and grease. You’ve seen those photos of McDonald’s hamburgers kept for a year or two that don’t rot: Microbes can’t get a foothold in them.


There’s a story about the food question. Bengt Björkstén compared allergies in Sweden and Estonia, a neighboring Baltic country, right after the Iron Curtain started drawing back in 1989. In Estonia, they were lower by two-thirds. He thought the protection came from their food. They had been getting microbes from food that was grown locally and fermented, essentially because it was a poor country. Modern food has to have a shelf life. It has to travel long distances. That happens by various mechanisms, but essentially you’re taking the microbiota off food.


Are GMO foods making you sick and age faster?

This might be worth trying out for a month or two to see if your health improves. Both GMO soy meal and  corn syrup are in many processed foods, ice cream etc. It might help high blood pressure and skin issues shingles issues because an immune response can affect blood vessels and skin.

I think GMO items are labeled in UK and Europe. In USA there is no labeling so far, but there is a move in California to start requiring GMO labeling of foods (I imagine there is too much industry lobbying by Monsanto against labeling)

Are genetically modified (GM) foods making you sick – I mean really sick? Up until recently, all that we could say was thank goodness you’re not a lab rat; GM feed messes them up big time. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) appear to trigger the immune systems of both mice and rats as if they were under attack. In addition, the gastrointestinal system is adversely affected, animals age more quickly, and vital organs are damaged. When fed GM foods, lab animals can also become infertile, have smaller or sterile offspring, increased infant mortality, and even hair growing in their mouths. Have I got your attention?


Biotechnology corporations such as Monsanto try to distort or deny the evidence, sometimes pointing to their own studies that supposedly show no reactions. But when scientists such as French toxicologist G.E. Seralini re-­analyzed Monsanto’s raw data, it actually showed that the rats fed GM corn suffered from clear signs of toxicity – evidence that industry scientists skillfully overlooked.

More at http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/dramatic-health-recoveries-reported/


The Wednesday Gatherings 9/14/11 - Wed Gathering in Rockville

The Wednesday Gathering is not just another dinner party, though it does include a good meal. This is a unique social gathering for people involved in Tantra, Radical Honesty, The Lord's Chapel, Beltane, Community for Spiritual Living, Shalom Mountain, polyamory, Paganism, BEST Events and other groups dedicated to openness, authenticity and integrity. It is an adult only event (18+).

In a magical environment full of great music, candles and in a truly sacred space, we chill out and relax and just see how much we can really show up.

Bring your joy, your sadness, whoever and whatever you are and just be in a place where love and acceptance reign. It's a great place to meet a new friend or see an old acquaintance in a new light.
More details on the Wednesday Gatherings at

The gathering is at

614 E Lynfield Dr
Rockville MD 2085

Please park at the parking lot at the end of the street - reach it by making 3
left turns and walking back 100 yards through the park

Note that mapquest gets in wrong in the last 100 yards, see
for detailed directions and parking info

Urban Gardening with the Nature Devas - 4/13/11 - Wed.Gathering in Rockville

This Wednesday Sandbox gathering we join Rukmini to learn about URBAN Gardening.



When I lived in Arlington, Virginia (before one had to be a millionaire to do so), I had a lovely backyard, raised bed garden.  Using intention and meditation, I worked with the Devas of the plants and the soil to create a beautiful garden of vegetables, herbs, and flowers, studded with crystals and providing a fragrant, verdant playground for my cats, Leo and Shabat. 


How have you attempted to connect with nature? 


Even pots (43!) on my balcony in Leesburg provided homes for bees and flowers, as well as delicious herbs for dinner. 


If you have, or have not yet, been bitten by the fierce organic gardening bug, join us in a beautiful Rite of Spring. 


At Perelandra, Machelle Small Wright's magical garden home in Jeffersonton, Virginia, I learned to muscle test and work with the Devas from the author of "Behaving as if the God in all life mattered."

I will teach about Permaculture and sustainable land use design.  This includes information about Findhorn and Perelandra, working with the nature Devas of plants in order to produce abundant growth.gardening, soil composition and testing, Organic gardening resources, No soil layer gardening, Rainwater harvesting, etc.

Rukmini Diane Bongiorni is a long-time organic gardener, trained in muscle testing and other techniques by Machelle Small Wright at Peralandra.

She is also a Feng Shui consultant, energy healer, and tarot reader. She can be reached at dbongiorni (at) hotmail.com or 202-744-3698.


The dinner is at 7 pm and the workshop begins after dinner at 8pm. I invite you to join us, though as always what ever choice you make you will be honored in.



The Vertical Farm

A positive idea for us to use now to grow healthy local food in cities...

I was inspired tonight by a different perspective on producing our food: the
vertical farm!


Producing food in stacked greenhouses (or possibly better designs that allow
us to use more sunlight), in cities, to grow our food instead of ship if
from who knows where. Totally hydroponic, no dirt required, add a few
nutrients to water that circulates and is therefore conserved. Very low
technology, but the cost of doing this in cities is limited by the price of
real estate. There are practical solutions out there.

Diet and depression

A few years ago I was depressed (apathy, no energy to do things) after eating vegan for about 6 months. I took the quiz at the mood cure http://www.moodcure.com/Questionnaire.html and fit in the Blahs category - I had cold hands and feet a lot. I took some Omega-3 oil and L-Tyrosine (an aid to neurotransmitters dopamine production) and within 15 minutes I was full of energy and more motivated than in months. I also took 5-HTP (a serotonin precursor) before bed. I added L-Phenylalanine (a precursor to L-Tyrosine) more recently. I also made the diet changes recommended - more protein from nuts, hemp milk, beans. I no longer had cravings for chicken that I had had and felt happier too.


For the record I don't eat dairy, eat, meat, fish, caffeine, alcohol, sugar or refined gluten such as white pasta, white bread. I found giving up alcohol improved my moods (no more low energy hangovers) and giving up sugar and pasta too - I used to get a sugar high and low from them too. I exercised the same (about an hour a day of yoga and meditation) before and after the diet change. I find I notice more the food I eat now - less of the eating to change my mood behaviors that I used to have (eg eating ice cream when lonely).


I eat about 30-50% raw food, the rest mostly Indian curries and rice or salads. I take daily vitamins too.

How do I eat heathier for me?

I think noticing how your body feels after you eat certain foods or cut them out is the best advice. Your body is the ultimate judge when it comes to what is healthy for you. We are all unique and learning to listen to our body is an important skill. For example if eating cheese gives you cramps and bloating might be best to cut it out. Sometimes we have allergies to foods we love. If this resonates with you then trying fasting or an elimination diet where you slowly add back in food types will let you know for sure.

How to listen to your body. You might need to go to a quiet place and meditate for a few minutes to be able to hear your body at first. You might also try talking to your body parts, tell each of them that you love them, thank them for helping you and ask if they have any messages for you about your food. If you are worried about talking to your body parts realize that most people do this already but in a negative way - giving nasty comments to body parts (eg bad tummy, ugly arse) and hating them. And it might take a while for the love to sink in after years of hating. For me my body has contained a lot of wisdom for me on food and all areas of my life.

A related idea is to eat meditatively. That is firstly really noticing how you are feeling when you get the urge to eat, especially if it is an urge to eat a gallon of ice cream! Perhaps I am upset rather than hungry and really need to get a hug and drink a glass of water. I suggest the water because most people in this country are dehydrated most of the time and thirst is often confused with hunger. Water also helps when processing emotions for the energy to move faster and for released toxins to come out of the body. As a book of this title says:

    "Food is not love and love is not food"

Secondly eat slowly - notice how eat mouthful tastes. There is not a wolf in the chair next to you who will steal your food from you (at least I hope there isn't!) but often we wolf down our food without chewing or tasting it. A waste of a potentially enjoyable experience and also bad for the rest of the digestive system as the teeth and saliva are the first step in digesting all the nutrients in our food. Part of eating meditatively is to focus on the eating sensations - not watching TV, having angry conversations, or working while while you eat.

Ayurveda - The Science of Life 12/15/10 - Wed Gathering in Rockville

This Wednesday Sandbox gathering we learn about Ayurveda, which is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. Would you like to be healthier and have more energy for life? What if simple food changes could make you healthier? Would you like to feel more balance with nature, body, mind and spirit?


More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vital while realizing their full human potential. Ayurveda reminds us that health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.

Recognizing that human beings are part of nature, Ayurveda describes three fundamental energies that govern our inner and outer environments: movement, transformation, and structure. Known in Sanskrit as Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Earth), these primary forces are responsible for the characteristics of our mind and body. Each of us has a unique proportion of these three forces that shapes our nature. If Vata is dominant in our system, we tend to be thin, light, enthusiastic, energetic, and changeable. If Pitta predominates in our nature, we tend to be intense, intelligent, and goal-oriented and we have a strong appetite for life. When Kapha prevails, we tend to be easy-going, methodical, and nurturing. Although each of us has all three forces, most people have one or two elements that predominate.


The goal of Ayurveda is to identify a person’s ideal state of balance, determine where they are out of balance, and offer interventions using diet, herbs, yogic lifestyle, etc. We will look at the Brahma Chakra (Wheel of Life) that is the philosophical system that became the basis of the Ayurvedic medical cosmology.

Randy Goldberg studied Ayurveda for two years in Calcutta, India. Randy is a former Yoga monk, a Craniosacral therapist, a world famous astrologer interviewed by the Washington Post and by CNN. He facilitates Family Constellation therapy for individuals and groups.

randy (at) randygoldberg (dot) org or 202-518-0442 www.randygoldberg.org

The workshop begins after dinner at 8pm.  I invite you to join us, though as always what ever choice you make you will be honored in.

The Bristol Diet for cancer healing and prevention.

My aunt Wendy had cancer a few years ago and recommend the Bristol diet as part of a natural cancer cure. The quote below and research on the effectiveness of a plant centered diet is in the article linked above. This diet is good not only for cancer but for other diseases such as heart attackes, allergies and diabetes too. Interestingly this is similar diet to the one in the Mood Cure diet in cutting out sugar, refined carbs and caffeine.


To summarise, the Bristol Approach aims to rebalance the body’s biochemistry and regulate the inflammatory response. The diet is plant-based containing 8 to 10 portions of fresh vegetables and fruit per day plus plenty of wholegrains and pulses. It contains small amounts of animal products but limited red meat and dairy products. The avoidance of sugars and refined carbohydrates is strongly encouraged along with processed and refined foods, excess salt and caffeine and alcohol. Plenty of pure water along with herbal teas and fresh vegetable juices are recommended. Good quality nutritional supplements are advised to compliment the diet. 


A key Penny Brohn Cancer Care dietary recommendation is the removal of sugars and refined carbohydrates from the diet. The biochemical changes that occur within a cancer cell allowing it to create energy without oxygen (anaerobic respiration) more readily mean that in order to produce the energy it requires for survival more glucose is required than for a normal cell. The cancer cell’s greater need for this simple sugar has led to speculation that a high sugar diet may encourage cancer cell growth and there is some evidence to support this idea. For this reason it seems wise to limit sugars and refined carbohydrates.


Why women in China do not get breast cancer

I found this article very interesting about how diet can dramatically affect our health. From the book Your Life in Your Hands, by Professor Jane Plan. And the results also apply to prostate cancer in men...

By Prof. Jane Plant, PhD, CBE

I had no alternative but to die or to try to find a cure for myself. I am a scientist - surely there was a rational explanation for this cruel illness that affects one in 12 women in the UK ?

I had suffered the loss of one breast, and undergone  radiotherapy. I was now receiving painful chemotherapy, and had been seen by some of the country's most eminent specialists. But, deep down, I felt certain I was facing death. I had a loving husband, a beautiful home and two young children to care for. I desperately wanted to live.

Fortunately, this desire drove me to  unearth the facts, some of which were known only to a handful of scientists at the time.

Anyone who has come into contact with breast cancer will know that certain risk factors - such as increasing age, early onset of womanhood, late onset of menopause and a family history of breast cancer - are completely out of our control. But there are many risk factors, which we can control easily.

These "controllable" risk factors readily translate into  simple changes that we can all make in our day-to-day lives to help prevent or treat breast cancer. My message is that even advanced breast cancer can be overcome because I have done it.

The first clue to understanding what was promoting my breast  cancer came when my husband Peter, who was also a scientist, arrived back from working in China while I was being plugged in for a chemotherapy session.

He had brought with him cards and  letters, as well as some amazing herbal suppositories, sent by my friends and science colleagues in China .

The suppositories  were sent to me as a cure for breast cancer. Despite the awfulness of the situation, we both had a good belly laugh, and I remember saying that this was the treatment for breast cancer in China , then it was little wonder that Chinese women avoided getting the disease.

Those words echoed in my mind.
Why didn't Chinese women in China get breast cancer?
I had collaborated once with Chinese colleagues on a study of links between soil chemistry and disease, and I remembered some of the statistics.

The disease was virtually non-existent throughout the whole country. Only one in 10,000 women in China will die from it, compared to that terrible figure of one in 12 in Britain and the even grimmer average of one in 10 across most Western countries.
It is not just a matter of China being a more rural country, with less urban pollution. In highly urbanized Hong Kong , the rate rises to 34 women in every 10,000 but still puts the West to shame.

The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki  have similar rates. And remember, both cities were attacked withnuclear weapons, so in addition to the usual pollution-related cancers, one would also expect to find some radiation-related cases, too.

The conclusion we can draw from these statistics strikes you with some force. If a Western woman were to move to industrialized, irradiated Hiroshima , she would slash her risk of contracting breast cancer by half. Obviously this is absurd.
It seemed obvious to me that some lifestyle factor not related to pollution, urbanization or the environment is seriously increasing the Western woman's chance of contracting breast cancer.

I then discovered that whatever causes the huge differences in breast cancer rates between oriental and Western countries, it isn't genetic.

Scientific research showed that when Chinese or Japanese people move to the West, within one or two generations their rates of breast cancer approach those of their host community.

The same thing happens when oriental people adopt a completely Western lifestyle in Hong Kong . In fact, the slang name for breast cancer in China translates as 'Rich Woman's Disease'. This is because, in China, only the better off can afford to eat what is termed ' Hong Kong food'.

The Chinese describe all Western food, including everything from ice cream and chocolate bars to spaghetti  and feta cheese, as "Hong Kong food", because of its availability in the former British colony and its scarcity, in the past, in mainland China .

So it made perfect sense to me that whatever  was causing my breast cancer  and the shockingly high incidence in this country generally, it was almost certainly something to do with our better-off, middle-class, Western lifestyle.

There is an important point for men here, too. I have observed in my research that much of the data about prostate cancer leads to similar conclusions.

According to figures from the World Health Organization, the number of men contracting prostate cancer in rural China is negligible, only 0.5 men in every 100,000.
In England, Scotland and Wales , however, this figure is 70 times higher. Like breast cancer, it is a middle-class disease that primarily attacks the wealthier and higher socio-economic groups, those that can afford to eat rich foods.

I remember saying to my husband, "Come on Peter, you have just come back  from China . What is it about the Chinese way of life that is so different?"

Why don't they get breast cancer?'
We decided to utilize our joint scientific backgrounds and approach it  logically.

We examined scientific data that pointed us in the general direction of fats in diets.
Researchers had discovered in the 1980s that only l4% of calories in the average Chinese diet were from fat, compared to almost 36% in the West.
But the diet I had been living on for years before I contracted breast cancer was very low in fat and high in fibre.
Besides, I knew as a scientist that fat intake in adults has not been shown to increase risk for breast cancer in most investigations that have followed large groups of women for up to a dozen years.
Then one day something rather special happened. Peter and I have worked together so closely over the years that I am not sure which one of us first said:
"The Chinese don't eat dairy produce!"

It is hard to explain to a non-scientist the sudden mental and emotional 'buzz' you get when you know you have had an important insight. It's as if you have had a lot of pieces of a jigsaw in your mind, and suddenly, in a few seconds, they all fall into place and the whole picture is clear.

Suddenly I recalled how many Chinese people were physically unable to  tolerate milk, how the Chinese people I had worked with had always said that milk was only for babies, and how one of my close friends, who is of Chinese origin, always politely turned down the cheese course at dinner parties.

I knew of no Chinese people who lived a traditional Chinese life who ever used cow or other dairy food to feed their babies. The tradition was to use a wet nurse but never, ever, dairy products.

Culturally, the Chinese find our Western preoccupation with milk and milk products very   strange. I remember entertaining a large delegation of Chinese scientists shortly after the ending of the Cultural Revolution in the 1980s.

On advice from the Foreign Office, we had asked the caterer to provide a pudding that contained a lot of ice cream. After inquiring what the pudding consisted of, all of the Chinese, including their interpreter, politely but firmly refused to eat it, and they could not be persuaded to change their minds.

At the time we were all delighted and ate extra portions!

Milk, I discovered, is one of the most common causes of food allergies .
Over 70% of the world's population are unable to digest the milk sugar, lactose, which has led nutritionists to believe that this is the normal condition for adults, not some sort of deficiency. Perhaps nature is trying to tell us that we are eating the wrong food.

Before I had breast cancer for the first time, I had eaten a lot of dairy produce, such as skimmed milk, low-fat cheese and yogurt. I had used it as my main source of protein. I also ate cheap but lean minced beef, which I now realized was probably often ground-up dairy cow.

In order to cope with the chemotherapy I received for my fifth case of cancer, I had been eating organic yogurts as a way of helping my digestive tract to recover and repopulate my gut with 'good' bacteria.

Recently, I discovered that way back in 1989 yogurt had been implicated in ovarian cancer. Dr Daniel Cramer of Harvard University studied hundreds of women with ovarian cancer, and had them record in detail what they normally ate. Wish I'd been made aware of his findings when he had first discovered them.

Following Peter's and my insight into the Chinese diet, I decided to give up not just yogurt but all dairy produce immediately. Cheese, butter, milk and yogurt and anything else that contained dairy produce - it went down the sink or in the rubbish.

It is surprising how many products, including commercial soups, biscuits and cakes, contain some form of dairy produce. Even many proprietary brands of margarine marketed as soya, sunflower or olive oil spreads can contain dairy produce
I therefore became an avid reader of the small print on food labels.

Up to this point, I had been steadfastly measuring the progress of my fifth cancerous lump with callipers and plotting the results. Despite all the encouraging comments and positive feedback from my doctors and nurses, my own precise observations told me the bitter truth.

My first chemotherapy sessions had produced no effect - the lump was still the same size.

Then I eliminated dairy products. Within days, the lump started to shrink
About two weeks after my second chemotherapy session and one week after giving up dairy produce, the lump in my neck started to itch. Then it began to soften and to reduce  in size. The line on the graph, which had shown no change, was now pointing downwards as the tumour got smaller and smaller.

And, very significantly, I noted that instead of declining exponentially (a graceful curve) as cancer is meant to do, the tumour's decrease in size was plotted on a straight line heading off the bottom of the graph, indicating a cure, not suppression (or remission) of the tumour.

One Saturday afternoon after about six weeks of excluding all dairy produce from my diet, I practised an hour of meditation then felt for what was left of the lump. I couldn't find it. Yet I was very experienced at detecting cancerous lumps - I had discovered all five cancers on my own. I went downstairs and asked my husband to feel my neck. He could not find any trace of the lump either.

On the following Thursday I was due to be seen by my cancer specialist at  Charing Cross Hospital in London . He examined me thoroughly, especially my neck where the tumour had been. He was initially bemused and then delighted as he said, "I cannot find it." None of my doctors, it appeared, had expected someone with my type and stage of cancer (which had clearly spread to the lymph system) to survive, let alone be so hale and hearty.

My specialist was as overjoyed as I was. When I first discussed my ideas with him he was understandably sceptical. But I understand that he now uses maps showing cancer mortality in China in his lectures, and recommends a non-dairy diet to his cancer patients.

I now believe that the link between dairy produce and breast cancer is similar to the link between smoking and lung cancer.
I believe that identifying the link between breast cancer and dairy produce, and then developing a diet specifically targeted at maintaining the health of my breast and hormone system, cured me.

It was difficult for me, as it may be for you, to accept that a substance as 'natural' as milk might have such ominous health implications. But I am a living proof that it works and, starting from tomorrow, I shall reveal the secrets of my revolutionary action plan.

Extracted from Your Life in Your Hands, by Professor Jane Plan


PS My friend Gene did some internet research on this topic and found this article http://www.cancerproject.org/ask/dairy.php that talks about evidence of dairy and cancer and what to eat instead of dairy for calcium

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