Gabriele Kushi, Embracing Menopause Naturally
Gabriele Kushi os the Founder and Director of Kushi’s Kitchen. She’s an expert on healing with natural foods and macrobiotics. She’s the author of Embracing Menopause Naturally.
Caryn: Hi, I’m Caryn Hartglass and this is It’s All About Food. We have a good show today. My guest will be Gabriele Kushi and she’s the Founder and Director of Kushi’s Kitchen. And has a website kushiskitchen.com. She’s an expert on healing with natural foods and macrobiotics. She’s also written a great book called Embracing Menopause Naturally. She’ll be with us in a few minutes and we’ll talk about all of that. I wanted to mention, we talked last week or the week before, about the Veggie Pride Parade. It’s coming up, it’s on Sunday, May 17th. That’s this Sunday. It’s in Manhattan. People are going to be marching from the old meat district, which I think is a great place to start for a vegetarian parade. That’s at 9th Avenue Gansevoort Street and Greenwich Street and Little West 12th Street where they all intersect. We’ll be lining up there, then, we’ll be ending at Union Square Park and there will be a wonderful event there. One of the people that’s going to be speaking is Maryann Teem who is a member of the House of Representatives in The Netherlands. She leads the party, the party for the animals. I think it’s fascinating that they’re actually is a party, a political party for the animals. Only in The Netherlands. Well I hope that’s just the beginning for the world. She’s created a DVD called Meat: The Truth and that’s M-E-A-T so there’s a little pun there, Meat: The Truth. That’s premiering this Sunday in Manhattan and it’ll be after the parade. So, we’ll be going to that afterwards. A lot of great speakers at that event so hope you can join us! I’ll just run through some of the people that are going to be there: Paul Shapiro, he’ll be probably talking about factory farming, he’s with the Humane Society. Then, JP Vaswani is a spiritual leader. Karen Davis, she’s the President and Founder of United Poultry’s Concern. She’s done a lot of wonderful work for our feathered friends and has some incredible wonderful stories about how, really how brilliant and intelligent birds are. So I hope you can join us. So, right now we’re going to start our show with Gabriel Kushi. Gabriele are you with us?
Gabriele: Yes, hello I am with you.
Caryn: Oh, hi!
Gabriele: Hi, how are you?
Caryn: Good. I’m so glad that you’re here today. I’m great, it’s beautiful today. I’m not sure how it is where you are but in New York the sky is blue, nice breeze. It’s really a lovely day.
Caryn: Yeah. OK
Gabriele: We have some much needed rain here in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Caryn: Oh well maybe you got it from us because we had a horrible week last week. It was almost tropical these big downpours. But I’m looking forward to warm, sunny weather.
Gabriele: Yes, yes.
Caryn: Because I need my vitamin D!
Gabriele: Yeah, definitely. Half and hour. 30 minutes. 3 times a week. 30% uncovered body.
Caryn: There we go you see that’s very important. 30% for 30 minutes.
Gabriele: Yeah, 30%
Caryn: Vitamin D is good for a lot of things. Strong bones, good skin, what else is it good for?
Gabriele: Yes, yes it helps with a lot of things. It helps with everything.
Caryn: Right. It’s a hormone isn’t it? Vitamin D.
Gabriele: It can be. Can be both a hormone and a vitamin, depends on where it is and where it’s located and how it’s utilized.
Caryn: OK well we’re just jumping right into things.
Gabriele: Jumping right in, yeah.
Caryn: I mentioned before you came on that you have a website- kushiskitchen.com.
Gabriele: Yes kutchiskitchen with an “s”.
Caryn: So it’s like Kushi rhymes with sushi I always like when you say that.
Caryn: But it’s Kushi with a “K” – K-U-S-H-I-S and kitchen.com
Gabriele: Yes. Newsletters there. Free recipes and articles and lots of good advice and lots of goodies always in my newsletters. So it’s a nice resource for people who’d like to have some natural, holistic food and health.
Caryn: OK so I want to start with your beginning. So you’re from Germany?
Gabriele: Yes I was born in Germany.
Caryn: So how were you raised? Did you have a macrobiotic upbringing? What were your parents doing?
Gabriele: No. I was like born 5 years after the war in Germany so we just started to have some food more regular food. But still I think my mom didn’t get as much nutrients as she needed during her pregnancy. My constitution is not as strong because of that I think and I have been raised on good bread. Germany has some good bread and some sauerkraut and butter and jam, strawberry jams. Then some salads. I was never a really good eater. I never ate a lot of meat or a lot of food per-say. I was more like how you would say junk food. I had a lot of Coca-Cola and I was older like 16 years old. You know like ice cream, chocolate ice cream and sweets and sausage, pork sausages and white bread and mustard and things like that. So it wasn’t really balanced meal. I had some sauerkraut. I remember liking sauerkraut. But, I was a very picky eater. Not really a good eater. When I started to eat natural foods and macrobiotics my mom said, oh I’m so glad you found that. She was really happy for me.
Caryn: Well that’s nice.
Gabriele: As she could see I was starting to eat good and like the food and like to cook and really enjoyed to nourish myself.
Caryn: So how did that happen?
Gabriele: That happened about 21 years old and by chance a friend of mine found the information on macrobiotics and natural foods and holistic health in Holland. There was a store in a macrobiotic restaurant and book from 08:10 and Kushi. So he brought that with him to Germany and he thought I would like and I sure did. I would say it was love at first bite for me. You know that saying, “love at first sight?”
Gabriele: For me it was love at first bite.
Caryn: And then you…what brought you to the United States?
Gabriele: Actually I wanted to come to the United States to study macrobiotics and to study Native American spirituality. I wanted to study with medicine men and shaman and medicine women and I also wanted to study macrobiotic natural food and the philosophy of oriental medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. They have this school in Boston, now it’s at the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. I came to study that.
Caryn: Wow, OK.
Gabriele: Yeah, I started 7 years before I came to America. I started studying on my own with books and with a couple of friends and we did a lot of work in Germany for East West Foundation. We had also our first natural food store in Germany. We started to translate macrobiotic books and published books. We’re still having Das Grosse Leben, a macrobiotic magazine. Still having a publishing company in Germany my friends have. So we are still active in Germany. But I stayed in America. I got married and I have a child. I married Michio and Abeline Kushi’s son.
Caryn: It was more than love at first bite for you with macrobiotics.
Gabriele: It was love at first sight with him I guess. So I study a lot of long time macrobiotic philosophy of eating natural foods in season. That’s the biggest thing- in season and locally. That’s the way of the teachings on organic and sustainable- those are all macrobiotic teachings, which I really enjoy. Then, eating in balance and harmony, putting in some oriental traditional medicine like the yin and yang and the 5 transformations and the understanding of those seasonal changes and how they affect our body. Similar to when you use acupuncture points, your balance, your organs. So when you eat in season you balance and nourish your organs in the seasons with the seasonal food.
Caryn: So, what do you do if you’re in a…certainly different locations have different kinds of seasons…
Gabriele: Yeah, definitely.
Caryn: There are tropical places that don’t have the range that we have in New York for example. How does that work?
Gabriele: Well you eat where you are and what you are. So when you are in the tropics, you eat what is traditionally eaten in the tropics. You know? Looking for traditional foods, not the new age food, you know?
Gabriele: So more the traditional foods, which people have eaten, you know? For instance, coconuts are very valuable food in the place they are growing. You eat the whole coconut. So you don’t eat just the coconut meat or the milk or the juice. You try to eat everything from that food so that’s whole foods. With grains you don’t eat the white grain, the refined grain, you eat the whole grain. The whole…all 7 layers. If you do whole foods cooking, which is also very important aspect of macrobiotics, you really have the whole nourishment. You’re not extracting something. So you get everything what you need from that plant. So you can be happy from eating coconuts there. It’s not to say you shouldn’t have coconuts or oranges or somewhere in places where they’re not growing. That’s not what we’re saying. But, try to eat them, for instance, when you eat tropical foods in a non-tropical climate; eat them in the summer when it’s hot. We have where it feels like the tropics.
Gabriele: In New York. So if it gets hot there you can have foods which are growing in hotter seasons. When you go into the winter season, then you might need stronger foods. Maybe more cooked foods. More soups, things like that. Different grains and beans and vegetables and fruits. For instance, four seasons climate, the winter is more like apples and pears. That is like that. It’s interesting when you travel and see what we have, for instance, quinoa comes from South America but we all love it here in the North right now.
Gabriele: I think it’s one of the grains, which has a really being boom…boom?
Caryn: Yeah, boom.
Gabriele: Quinoa. It’s easy to digest. It’s high in protein. Although it doesn’t grow in our regions. It’s like good to eat it in the summer or spring, warmer weather. In the winter more you might want to go more with a grain that grows in 4 seasons where you are living traditionally. Traditionally it was actually wheat and barley and kasha in Russia. In Asia they had more of the rice.
Caryn: My grandfather was from Russia and he used to always ask us, “Do you like kasha?” They ate a lot of kasha.
Gabriele: It’s okay to eat some of the foods which travel around and which can be stored and dried in other seasonal climates. But more in the…when it’s the weather, when it gets somewhat like the season that it comes from. It makes more support for the body system. You get you stay stronger. Traditionally. So nowadays people are working a lot with raw foods and all season long. From my understanding, also from my own practice, I found it challenging to eat raw…
Caryn: All year long.
Gabriele: All year long, yeah. I tend to go more in the summer months. When it gets warmer I tend to include more raw.
Gabriele: Live, raw. But in the winter I do raw too but it’s more pickled. Like fermented. So it’s still raw but it’s partially pickled and fermented so partially cooked with the time and pressure and that way. So it’s easier to digest and it changes its character a little bit. It’s not yin. If you look into yin and yang, raw is maybe yin and cooked is more yang in that way. When you are in the winter, the season of the winter is more yin, so you might want to have more yang type food to have the balance and the harmony.
Caryn: Now my limited experience with macrobiotics when I’m in a restaurant that has the macrobiotic plate. It’s always the same thing. It’s always a whole grain, like brown rice. It’s some steamed greens, a plain bean, some kind of red bean or pink bean or white bean or something, and then a little bit of seaweed in a light maybe, light soy dressing or something, a vinegar dressing. And what else? It’s a grain, a bean, a steamed green, the seaweed.
Gabriele: Some pickles on the side and a Kukicha tea.
Caryn: Is that…
Gabriele: Unfortunately that is the original macro platter. But that is just…that’s like I would say like an every day kind of a meal, which is okay. But, I think the cooks are out there and really very creative in their cooking. I mean you can make other things, you can make hummus you can make anything. You can make a pie. You can really create a lot of delicious dishes with grains, beans and vegetables. This that you were talking about is the typical macrobiotic platter but if you keep on eating that you will get really bored and sick all the time. All the time the same thing.
Caryn: Okay so there are…that means there are other foods that would be considered okay on a macrobiotic diet that we don’t…
Gabriele: Well let me say grains…how many grains are out there? There are like 7 to 10 different grains. Every year you turn around and they found another ancient grain seed somewhere. Over 100 different kinds of rices in India alone.
Caryn: White and brown and red and black…
Gabriele: Quinoa is like yellow and red. There is brown rice. There is red rice. There is meaty rice. There is sweet rice. There is long grain rice. There is brown basmati. Jasmine basmati. It’s like those are like 7 rices alone. There are like so many different grains and there are so many different beans. So many legumes. You can do different things to them. You can sprout the grains. You can sprout the legumes. You can ferment them. You can make tofu, tempeh. You can make seitan. It’s like you can be so creative with grains, beans and vegetables. Look how many vegetables are there. How many green leafy vegetables? How many root vegetables? How many round? Then you go and look into the flowers. We can eat flowers. We can eat trees, something from the trees. Then there are all the culinary herbs. It’s such a variety of food and bounty out there that you look into eating meat, there are cows, there is beef, but it’s the same cow and beef. There is like different things from the cow and different things from the pork or from a chicken. You can. From the dairy. There is a variety out there. But, when you look into foods and vegetables and grains and beans, there is so much more variety there.
Caryn: Oh absolutely.
Gabriele: And I feel sorry sometimes for people in a restaurant and there is only a macro platter and I see like well that’s not very creative. They’re having just open up a creative new one in LA and I saw some of the photos about the food their serving on the Internet. I go, “Wow this looks delicious.” So beautifully done. Lots of great chefs now. 4 star chefs who are starting to use the macrobiotic precipice and ideas into creating their menus. Those people are wow! You can have Iron Chef…
Caryn: A healthy Iron Chef.
Gabriele: A healthy Iron Chef with those guys!
Caryn: One day.
Gabriele: I would want to compete with them! But the most important thing is really your own energy and your own cooking. One should eat at home in your own kitchen. You should have a healthy wellness kitchen. That’s the center of your house. That’s the center of your balance. That’s the center of your health care plan.
Caryn: I totally agree with you. It’s just so important to have it set up in a way that is easy to use and friendly and has what you need in it.
Gabriele: Definitely, yes I have this book out Embracing Menopause Naturally and in the back there are some recipes and also there is a natural pantry. It’s information in there how to set up your own pantry, you own natural food pantry.
Caryn: Very good. That would be very helpful.
Gabriele: Very helpful, yeah.
Caryn: Because some people, well they just need…they don’t think of it themselves and to have it there with a check list is really, really a good thing. Let’s talk a little bit about this book, Embracing Menopause Naturally. Why did you write this?
Gabriele: I went through menopause myself. I have been, I have been studying at The University of Minnesota at the time I was into photography department, a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts. Also I studied Native American spirituality and traditions and I was in need to do my final exhibition at the university in photography. I was a summa cum laude student, which means your have to have your own exhibition, you have to write your own paper, you do your own research. It’s like Masters program. So I was wondering, looking around what I could do. I always liked making photos of women. Also, my whole artwork is fully concerned about women, women’s culture, women’s history, women’s art. For one reason or another, I don’t know really how the idea came but, I was also teaching cooking classes still always at the same time doing counseling. I went through menopause I said oh I want to find out the recipes that will help me. Then, I don’t know one thing came to another. I started to interview women from different cultures- not just macrobiotic women who had been macrobiotic for a long time, but people who just started macrobiotic for maybe a year or so. African American women who use their traditional ancestor medicine of the Earth. I was looking for women from different culture backgrounds and so I combined my love for photography, for spirituality, for women, information about women’s cultures and how women work in the world and macrobiotics. I combine that all in the book.
Caryn: That’s fabulous.
Gabriele: It was like a good thing. People always encouraged me. It took me a long time to actually publish the book because at the time I started to do the research and everything the information we have out now about the hormone replacement therapy. It wasn’t out there. At that time everybody still thought it was the best thing on Earth. Now we know that it’s not really doing what it says it does. It also really increases breast cancer and also it camouflages you will find the breast cancer easy for instance.
Gabriele: So it took me awhile to really go for it. I wanted to self-publish. I didn’t think a publisher would want to have what I have to offer. I see myself like a Renaissance woman…
Caryn: Yes, absolutely.
Gabriele: Putting a lot of disciplines together. A lot of aspects: culture, nutrition, herbal, chi, traditional ways.
Caryn: It sounds brilliant. I don’t know why a publisher wouldn’t want…
Gabriele: Right well I found a publisher. Well he found me. He said he would love to do it and he did it. So I have a publisher who is from New York. I’m going to be in New York again in June doing some book signing and some teachings. I will publish that on my website if people want to see me in person and talk with me. I have the book signed if you’re interested. It’s for women. Actually it’s a really good education for everyone. People say oh I’m not there yet. It’s good to prepare. It’s good for younger women to know where they’re going to because we’re all going to be going through that. Menarche, we go through, hopefully some pregnancy, not everybody but we all go through menopause one way or another. Either naturally or artificially.
Caryn: Are there some who experience menopause with very minimal changes and symptoms and others who experience a wide range of physical and emotional sensations?
Gabriele: Every woman is so different. Every woman is different. What I found in the research, what I did with the woman- the ones who have been eating the longest macrobiotic that have the most kids have the least problems. It’s not only the food but it’s also your lifestyle. It’s your emotion. It’s everything what you have done in your life when you go through midlife. When you go through midlife everything changes somewhat.
Caryn: Well that’s true for men too not just for women.
Caryn: That’s true for men too.
Gabriele: Oh for men too it’s the same. They go through andropause. It’s the same thing. The one thing is I’m always joking, it’s like men get a girlfriend, a young girl or a new car.
Gabriele: Or motorbike. Women get hot flashes and they gain weight.
Caryn: Ha ha ha!
Gabriele: So it’s not fair!
Caryn: It isn’t fair.
Gabriele: I’m joking about that. That’s why I think it’s so important to really, not just do it when it’s happening. You know people say, “I’m overweight, I want to lose weight”. Don’t wait until you’re overweight. Don’t wait until you’re getting sick. Take pre-active tries. Do something before. That’s what my whole education is about. Don’t wait until you’re belly is so fat around your waist that you really, really are in trouble. Don’t wait until you can’t get off the couch. Do something before.
Gabriel Kushi: There is so much out there, that I started— forty years ago, we had nothing! We had to ship our food. We didn’t know how to cook it. We didn’t have any Stevia, desserts—
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)
Gabriel Kushi: We didn’t know what meat-free was.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Gabriel Kushi: What’s gluten-free— we had no idea. All these things that I had covered later on. We didn’t have really good food to start with. We had to do everything from scratch, everything.
When I moved in ‘78 to America, we had in Boston, at that time, many macrobiotic students. We called it the heyday of microbiotics on the east coast. We had restaurants and everything. They had strawberry shortcakes with organic whole creams, flours, whole strawberries, tofu whipped cream. I thought I was in heaven.
Caryn Hartglass: (laughs)
Gabriel Kushi: I never had anything like that before.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Gabriel Kushi: And I think I probably gained a lot of weight in the first month or two. (laughs)
Caryn Hartglass: Oh sure. You want to have everything, it’s so good.
Gabriel Kushi: I wanted to have everything. People don’t know how good they have it, and they forget the history of natural foods in this country. Macrobiotics and the Kushis, they have a Smithsonian exhibit dedicated to their work: the natural and complementary health, and planning the alternative movement. Starting it.
People who are interested in natural food, they need to know what is happening. What is the history, where did it start, who coined the phrase natural foods, who had the first natural foods store in this country.
Everyone, it was all the Kushis. My mother-in-law, Aveline Kushi, she’s the one. She went to every single farmer in this country and asked them, “Could you cook brown rice?“
Caryn Hartglass: Wow. (chuckles)
Gabriel Kushi: Can you cook brown rice? Yeah, so that’s how it started. There was no grain in this country in ‘50s. You had to look into bird food. They had grain, they had millet there.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, that’s why call it bird food. (chuckles)
Gabriel Kushi: That’s why they call it bird food. There’s a lot of things.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, in a lot of ways, in moving forward, we’re really going backwards.
Gabriel Kushi: Mhm.
Caryn Hartglass: To eating simple, natural foods. Almost as they were designed in nature.
Gabriel Kushi: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: There was this heyday for processed foods, and it was exciting in the ‘50s and ‘60s with canned foods and TV dinners. It was a novelty, and it made things “easier” for the parent that was at home preparing the meals.
Now we’re learning the price that we’re paying for all of that stuff that isn’t really food. The nutrition has been removed. It’s been replaced with artificial ingredients and preservatives, salt, fat, trans fat, hydrogenated oil, high-fructose corn syrup— all of these high-tech, synthesized products that people consume every day. It’s really scary, and we’re just seeing the impact of all of that with the heart disease, diabetes, and cancers.
Gabriel Kushi: Every day for the last thirty-forty years.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right. And now we have to go back, and it’s hard ‘cause a lot of damage has been done. Just to get farmers grow organically and to have more small farmers in our neighborhoods so we can have more locally grown foods to eat the way you’re saying: eat seasonally. There have been a lot of areas that are so developed with cities, there is no food being grown around them where you can eat seasonally and locally.
Gabriel Kushi: Yeah. I know in New York people have started making their gardens on the roof.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. There’s this little urban garden movement. (chuckles)
Gabriel Kushi: Yeah, it’s wonderful.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it is.
Gabriel Kushi: In Brooklyn, you can get garden plaques, rent them, and get them. It’s fantastic, I think.
Caryn Hartglass: So it’s interesting to see what’ll happen in the next ten or twenty years. (chuckles)
Gabriel Kushi: Yes, for sure. It will be very interesting.
Caryn Hartglass: ‘Cause a lot will happen.
Gabriel Kushi: Also when you look into the financial economy if you grow your own food, if you eat local, if you eat seasonal, eat organic, you will save a lot of money. When you eat so low on the food chain, you will save a lot of money.
Caryn Hartglass: You know, that’s such an important point because so many people when you say it’s important to eat organic, they say, “Oh, but it’s so much more expensive.” If you really focus in on eating simple, healthy, natural, whole foods (local and organic), it’s not more expensive.
Gabriel Kushi: Yeah. When you eat boxed food—
Caryn Hartglass: Sure.
Gabriel Kushi: —when you go into the store, everything’s boxed and there’s a lot of ingredients in there. That’s not very good. It’s very expensive. You can pay five dollars for a box. Five dollars, you can get all the ingredients: carrots, broccoli, potatoes— you can make a meal for five dollars.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right.
Gabriel Kushi: For one person, a good meal. Even for two. I know sometimes they have this task: five dollars, what can you do with it? What can you cook with it?
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)
Gabriel Kushi: How many people can you feed for five dollars? The thing is, like you mentioned, you have to go back through different way of sense, and I don’t know if people remember the traditions, if people remember that.
Caryn Hartglass: Mhmm.
Gabriel Kushi: If you look how we are getting brainwashed every day with TV, there is no education—except maybe some of the channels that will give you education on how to go back to your roots. How can you do it and still live in this world. People don’t know! It’s a challenge to do “easier’ and to do all the things that we are used to doing. It will be very interesting to see what people can let go of, what they can recover again, and what new things.
Because we need to also have new things coming up. We need to have our tradition, and our traditions which have been nourishing us. We need to remember those. Then we have to build off those traditions to build our future.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s go back to menopause. Did you find that some cultures manage menopause more easily than others?
Gabriel Kushi: Yes, definitely. That’s a good thing that you’re asking me that. I found that in some cultures, some African cultures even, they don’t have a word for menopause.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. (chuckles) Well, in some ways, menopause has been created in the Western countries by the medical community. They create diseases, and menopause has almost become a disease rather than just a natural part of life.
Gabriel Kushi: Yeah, and it’s also because the role of the woman has been changed. The demand of the woman, the multi-tasking. The food they eat is not as good anymore, the organs are not so good anymore. That’s also the stature of a woman in the culture. Really also has a lot of say in how she experiences her midlife. Since in traditional native cultures the women became the leader, and the yay or nay sayer in the society. Because she knew the men, she raised the boys. She knows who’s good or not good, who has a good head or not. The older women when you go into midlife: they’re the “listen to.” That’s the sociological component of this.
If you go to cultures in Japan where women didn’t have that, but at the same time they ate differently; they had more estrogens from their food. They traditionally had more fiber estrogens from fermented soybeans like miso, soy sauces, edamame, natto, tempeh, tofu. All a form of soy which is absorbed by the body in a natural way.
Because you have to work with the soy because the antinutrients in the blend are neutralized. When you fermented your soy, you would do it in that way. Then you can absorb the fight-to nutrients, the plant-nutrients, and the plant estrogens to help stabilize your hormonal activities throughout your whole life. Then when you go through menopause, when you don’t have your periods anymore, you don’t experience it as a problem. It just stops.
Hormonally, naturally, which is supposed to happen. From one day to another, it can just be gone. ‘Cause if your egg box is empty, that’s empty; that’s time.
But in Western societies, because they eat not very good all our life anymore, we don’t have the right nutrients. We experience problems when we have our periods. Cramping or whatever. “Oh, it’s not good to have your period. It’s shameful. You have to deal with this.” And the pregnancy scare.
The whole thing that you go through as a woman—your lifestyle, the life-giving cycle from menarche to childbirth to menopause— is very much ruled on your hormonal system. If you eat foods which disturb your hormonal system —chemicalized and harmonized foods, then it’s out of balance.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Gabriel Kushi: When you hear that the girls, even at six years, already get their periods—
Caryn Hartglass: (gasps)
Gabriel Kushi: —they eat chicken meat which is made from…
Caryn Hartglass: Hormones, yes.
Gabriel Kushi: You probably know more about that than I do. But that’s the reality.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right.
Gabriel Kushi: And how those girls will be having problems with their pregnancies probably; they won’t be able to conceive or something. Their husbands maybe eat the same food, and so their sperm count goes down. They’re having difficulties getting babies.
Then going into menopause. They’re not going to say it like, “Would I like nothing there?” Dealing with those difficulties their whole life. It adds up.
Caryn Hartglass: From what I’ve read, my understanding is the natural age for a young woman to start menstruating is around 17 years old. In the United States and other similar countries, the average age is around 11 or 12. As you mentioned, in extreme cases where young girls are getting a super amount of hormones through their food, you see them developing at 6, 7, 8, 9; and it’s crazy. But it’s already been dropped substantially at 11 and 12.
I started at a young age, and it affects all of our lives when we see the increase of breast and ovarian cancers. It’s all linked. So we definitely need to start on a healthier diet, not even just when we’re a child but when we’re in the womb.
Gabriel Kushi: Yeah, that reminds me. I was thinking of how I was young when I started macrobiotics.
One of the key things is that conception starts way, way before. It’s exactly what you saying. I was trying to eat so good before I had my baby. I wanted to clean out my body, I wanted to find a really good husband who eats good. Those are very important for me. I wanted to really have all of the meat out of my body, all the dairy out of my body, all of the things which I didn’t feel like I wanted to have in.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, good for you.
Gabriel Kushi: Grains, beans, vegetables, and some fruits. Very simple eating. I’ve waited nearly ten years to have my baby after I started eating good. I was probably really, really extreme, but I started when I was 21 and I had my baby when I was 31, which is okay. But that was one of my real concerns. I’m really blessed with a healthy child. She’s a young woman.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, you’re ahead of your time.
Gabriel Kushi: Yes, yes. I was lucky, really lucky, to find it so early. It was like forty years ago; I can’t even believe it that I’m saying that now. But it was my life, it’s my life. It fed me good food and it also helps me feed other people, to educate and help them. It’s like a life dream, the rock of my life.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s talk about hot flashes. I know a number of women including myself who’ve experienced the hot flashes.
Gabriel Kushi: Aren’t they fun?
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles) Oh God. For me, I didn’t go through menopause naturally. I had a hysterectomy because of my ovarian cancer, and my body’s been dealing with that shock ever since. Things have definitely improved, but the hot flash is really an interesting phenomenon, and I would really like to understand it better.
Gabriel Kushi: Yeah, there are a lot of components to that. For me, I see hot flashes as a sweat lodge. Because I do Native American sweat lodges. I see that as a sweat lodge: it’s a cleansing of the body from the inside.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s fascinating, okay.
Gabriel Kushi: I see them as a blessing. I see how the heat comes up, how the free radicals, their constant heat. (laughs)
Somehow, I see it as the cleansing from the inside and, with that, I bless them. First of all, I bless them. I see them as a blessing. I see them as a good thing. I definitely make fun of them too when I had them. You can sometimes see when I’m traveling, I see some women standing there in the middle of the winter and they’re having their fans.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh right.
Gabriel Kushi: I don’t know, I see them as a blessing for myself. When they came for me, the most that came when the seasons are changing. So when the seasons are changing— if you go back to what I said way, way at the beginning with the five transformations theory— when the seasons are changing, the organs which are activated during the seasons are changing.
For instance, we are now in the spring, so our liver and gallbladder are activated. It’s like the time for regeneration. If you have problems with the liver, you can feel it and use it. So people do liver cleansing in the spring. It all comes to that, the season of the liver.
When the changes go on into the summer, you have the small intestine and the heart which are more activated. And so by the summer solstice, always around that time when the change is worse, I always have more hot flashes coming up because something changed in the universe. Something changed in the atmosphere. Something changed in the energy of nature. Nature was changing, okay?
Caryn Hartglass: Okay.
Gabriel Kushi: Our relations in the earth towards the sun changed. Our relation in the cosmos changed. This affects us too ‘cause you’re living here.
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)
Gabriel Kushi: You’re not isolated, you’re a part of nature. For me, that is when I got more hot flashes.
Another thing is when you have a lot of stress in your system. Maybe you don’t breathe enough, maybe you don’t breathe consciously through your meditation, your pranayama, your yoga. Your don’t do your relaxation techniques, your visualizations for peace and harmony, and your connectedness with the universe, with nature.
When you lost that and you are in stress, you just run around and try to get your things done and try to get everything, by-the-book-what-you-have done. Twenty things today, you need to get them all done.
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles) That’s me. (chuckles)
Gabriel Kushi: When you lose the connections with the seasons and nature— an hour’s an hour. We think the hour rushes because time doesn’t go. You have a lot to do, it goes quick. Nothing to do, it goes slow. Something like that. So we need to really learn how to take breaks, take a breather in between. Don’t do it all ourselves, it’s too many things. Look for the things that are the most essential in this one hour, in this one minute, in these five minutes.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, it’s all about “right now.”
Gabriel Kushi: Right now, yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: This being here, right now.
Gabriel Kushi: Right now, and don’t do too much right now. (chuckles)
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)
Gabriel Kushi: And do five things. It’s okay to multitask. Even right now, we have to multitask.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Gabriel Kushi: But don’t do it all day long.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I’m agreeing with you. I liked what you said about the hot flashes and how you compared it to the…
Gabriel Kushi: Sweat lodge.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. I had been in one once and we were supposed to go through four rounds. I could only make it through two. This was just before I knew I was sick, so there probably was something. I wasn’t able to manage that heat because of that.
When I went through chemotherapy, the hot flashes were more severe. So I see it now as a way my body was really trying to get all of that poison out. And It was working very hard.
Gabriel Kushi: Very hard, yeah. When you drink a glass of red wine or something when you go through menopause, you immediately get a hot flash. Immediately. When you eat a lot of sugar, you immediately get hot flashes. Some people come and say, “Oh, I get so many hot flashes.” I said, “Okay, let’s look at what you eat.” I tell them the five foods to eat and five foods not to eat. It’s very simple, little things you can do when you go naturally through it. And preparation is so important, so important.
Caryn Hartglass: What do you mean, preparation?
Gabriel Kushi: Preparation means starting young, starting early. Not just when you’re in it.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, yeah. I know. The body has an amazing way to bounce back if you have waited all this time; it doesn’t mean that it’s hopeless. Anything that you do now, from now on, it’s so much easier and so much better the younger you start.
Gabriel Kushi: Yeah, because it’s not just menopause. In Embracing Menopause Naturally, I give stories from women: what they did, how they come to it, and their lifecycles. For some women, they stopped being done with the childbearing years and their daughters started to have children. In my case, I started to go out of my childbearing years when my daughter started to get into them.
You have to look into that, the family, the connections. Do the stories; the stories are so important. They’re the living and what we do, and the connectedness. Just really the enjoyment, the playfulness of life that we have.
Another little thing is perhaps they’re necessary if you have a hot flash, or if you’re flooding or something. It’s like life. (chuckles)
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Gabriel Kushi: Even if you get cancer, it’s life.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right.
Gabriel Kushi: So it’s part of life. My daughter, I think she’s a wife-woman. She says, “Mom, we’re coming here to die.” This is the one thing that we do for sure.
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles) That’s right.
Gabriel Kushi: One thing for sure in this life is that nothing is sure. She says, “We all come here to die.” It’s true! We all come here to die, and life (in between) a lot of things can happen.
We all want to be healthy, we all want to have no pain, we want to live a healthy, long life. Everything what we have is all our families, all around. Those things are very important, and there is so much out there to give us the information to learn and to do. We also want to also go in schools more, to educate more. Kids are already about food. Not just having a Coca-Cola machine and the Frankenstein food there.
We really want to change everything, and the openings are there.
Caryn Hartglass: And when you start young, they’re—
Gabriel Kushi: It’s slowly, slowly happening. As I said, my mother-in-law and Michael Douglas, they really opened up a big door there. So I want to have people remember them and remind them. Michio is still around, Michio Kushi. They’re teaching and still active. Remind them that that’s part of history of how natural foods came about, how we got there. We need to know all of our achievements of what we have done.
And celebrate it, celebrate it. There’s so much now, so much green movement. They have to be careful not to commercialize it though.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, that’s too late. (chuckles)
Gabriel Kushi: Get good food. The money thing again.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Gabriel Kushi: More into our… That’s another step into our consciousness which we need to take which goes together with the natural food we need to take. There needs to be some help there from the traditional ways: working with the mind, working with the breathing.
Caryn Hartglass: (breathes deeply)
Gabriel Kushi: I work with Isha Yoga now. Isha Yoga is really helping to do inner engineering, to cleanse our inner self.
Caryn Hartglass: What is Isha Yoga?
Gabriel Kushi: Isha Yoga is a part of yoga which is led by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. He is teaching yoga in the form for our mind, for our understanding. We can apply, work it with the meditation, the breathing, the yoga. He’s teaching us on a daily basis to help us assure our body and our mind and our soul are going on another level of understanding and working with what we need to do.
You can look it up on the website: http://www.ishayoga.org
Caryn Hartglass: How do you spell that?
Gabriel Kushi: Isha: I-s-h-a.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, great.
Gabriel Kushi: Isha Yoga.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s great, okay. Well, you’ve been terrific and I think it’s pretty obvious that you have a wealth of information. There’s a lot more that you know that a lot of people would want to know more about. So you have this great website, kushiskitchen.com.
Gabriel Kushi: Yes. I do also tailor classes.
Caryn Hartglass: Tell me about your classes.
Gabriel Kushi: I do tailor classes. People can call in, and I do workshops, sessions, and programs over the telephone, like how I am calling in now to do radio.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay.
Gabriel Kushi: I will have maybe ten or twenty students who are calling in and having a program. It’s either a six-week program or a six-month program. For instance, I have a program coming up (27th of May). We’ll be meeting for six Wednesdays for one and a half hour. That is a class in Minneapolis. But I’m also doing classes like that on the phone so people can call in and they get the lecture. Then I send out handouts and information.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s great, that’s great. So all that information’s on your website?
Gabriel Kushi: Yeah, mhm. I teach about food that comes on the plate and food that does not come on the plate.
Caryn Hartglass: What does that mean?
Gabriel Kushi: Well, that means the food we eat on the plate and the food which is nourishing us which doesn’t come on the plate, which is everything else.
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm, very good. I’m liking it.
Gabriel Kushi: Good.
Caryn Hartglass: (laughs) Well, Gabriel, you’ve been terrific. This has been Gabriele Kushi, the author of Embracing Menopause Naturally. Again, her website is kushiskitchen.com. Thank you so much.
Gabriel Kushi: Thank you so much for having me on your show.
Caryn Hartglass: Definitely have to have you back another time.
Gabriel Kushi: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, you take care.
Gabriel Kushi: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m Caryn Hartglass, and this has been It’s All About Food.
Transcribed by Adella Finnan 9/1/2017, HT 8/20/2017