The National Institute of Whole Health (NIWH) | Pioneers of Whole Health Education® and Whole Person Care
December 6, 2016

A Recipe For Peace And Goodwill

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD

Looking at the state of the world at large, it can be difficult to see a reflection of the upcoming holiday sentiment: “Peace on earth — goodwill towards mankind.” In its place we find conflict, hostility, divisiveness, political mistrust, crime, greed and pending financial collapse.

Daily news headlines dampen the message of the Yuletide. Thankfully there are, and always have been, organizations and individuals that are focused on peace-making and global welfare. They demonstrate that we as a world community can live together in harmony.

Food has often been a starting point for community building as well as peace-making. Many decades ago, in 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the “Public Law 480”, which was expanded and renamed under President Kennedy as “Food for Peace.” In 1961, Kennedy redefined the program and set the tone for food as peace-keeping by saying, “Food is strength, and food is peace, and food is freedom, and food is a helping to people around the world whose good will and friendship we want.”

Food as we know it is one of the critical factors, along with water and shelter, for our survival. Yet, it nurtures us in ways beyond the physical. It is also a central part of human relationships and cultures. The holiday season is well-marked with food as the centerpiece of our festivities, celebrations and gatherings. This year, choose foods that nourish inside and out.

Nutrition is powerful. In keeping with the theme of food as a reality and metaphor for our survival, a remarkable organization, Chefs for Peace, is showing us once again the power of food as an effective agent for social and political change. A Jerusalem based multi-cultural group of chefs use food and cooking to demonstrate that living together peacefully is possible for all, no matter what faith or culture one comes from. The group includes Arabs, Jews, Christians and Muslims all working together to prepare meals for celebrations, galas and culinary competitions. They share their love of food and nourishing others to transcend any differences between them and have created a respectful and trusting partnership within this visionary group.

Chefs for Peace began in Jerusalem in 2001, by its founder Kevork Alemaian and a group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian chefs. It is a non-profit organization “committed to exploring cultural identity, diversity and coexistence through food…[that] understands food — its preparation, sharing, and enjoyment — as a powerful means of creating a bond with others and revealing that which is valued by all three faiths: food, family and friends… peace happens every day, in the kitchen and around the table!” The members believe that rather than leaving it to politicians to enact change and bring about peace, it will take “real people living and working together to create peace.”

Their unique cuisine reflects their belief in the value of blending various cultures and that sharing a simple meal is an act of peace and community. While the notion of “breaking bread” or sharing the nourishment of food as peacemaking is not a new one, the Chefs for Peace actively demonstrate how peace and goodwill-making, through shared nourishment, is a welcome and refreshing example of how this basic human need can heal and unite.

As the holiday season comes upon us, it is good to reflect upon on our family and community celebrations can serve to nourish and foster goodwill for all. In this spirit, here is the Chefs for Peace recipe for Fresh Figs stuffed with Mushrooms and Pecans — something healthy and new to serve up for the holidays. Figs are filled with essential A and B vitamins in addition to calcium, potassium and a generous amount of fiber. Furthermore, this recipe celebrates various cultural appetites with its unique combination of seasonings.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup minced onion
1/3 cup minced cremini mushrooms
1/3 cup minced toasted pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
Pinch of cloves
1/4 cup tamarind paste
1 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
12-14 fresh figs

Directions:

1. In a medium sauté pan, heat butter and olive oil. Add onion and mushrooms and sauté until golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Add pecans and half of cardamom, allspice, and cinnamon. Add a pinch of cloves, plus salt to taste. Stir well, cooking until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Add remaining cardamom, allspice, and cinnamon to pan (without cleaning it), plus tamarind paste, water, and sugar. Blend well with a whisk, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and continue cooking, stirring often, until sauce becomes smooth and velvety, about 5 minutes. Whisk in mascarpone cheese until smooth and sauce is heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and more sweeteners, if desired.

3. Slice top 1/2 inch of figs almost all the way through, but still attached. Use a 1/4-teaspoon measuring spoon to dig out fig flesh; put in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons fig flesh to mushroom mixture and mix well. Stuff figs with mixture, overfilling slightly. Place stuffed figs in pan with sauce, spooning sauce over them. Bring to a gentle boil; then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

PER SERVING (1): 103 cal, 38% fat cal, 5g fat (2g mono, 1g poly, 1g sat), 5mg chol, 1g protein, 16g carb, 3g fiber, 8mg sodium

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November 29, 2016

Genes May Define Our Behavior

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD


In late summer and early fall, my apple trees, with their sweet droppings all about the orchard, support an enormous population of fruit flies. Apart from being occasionally annoying and making a bit of noise, these insects would not be a topic to capture one’s attention. At least, I never thought so. That was until I read a fascinating study about fruit flies. It indicated that our gender and sexual behavior may be largely connected to our genes.

Gene Alteration

Geneticist Barry Dickson and graduate student Ebru Demir of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, Austria, made a small change to a genetically altered gene that they engineered into female fruit flies. This very specific gene alteration was engineered to always produce male fruit fly protein.

The genetically altered female fruit flies fruit-flies-520905_960_720behaved like amorous male flies. They pursued other female fruit flies and wooed them with an elaborate courtship display. This gene altering and its subsequent behavioral results were reported in the scientific journal Cell.

Promenade Of Rejections

The engineered females rejected males that tried to mate with them and began to imitate the multistep male courting dance. This is a truly fascinating activity but a bit too racy to describe in this article. (I am not kidding!) The two scientists hypothesize that the altered genes set into motion a cascade of genetic changes to re-program the female fruit flies’ sexual behavior.

Behavorial Genetics

In this same vein, one of the most spellbinding books I have ever read that covers behavior and genetics is Melvin Konner’s brilliant and stunning text The Tangled Wing, which is about humans — not fruit flies. If you are fascinated by how our amazing hormones and genetics create and affect our thoughts,  and behaviors, this book is a must-read.

Compassion in Healthcare

This amazing book also allows you to better understand the wide range of “masculine” and “feminine” behavior that exists in men and women. When we explore the science of how our brains function through our biochemistry and how this biochemistry is in control of the actions and behaviors, it helps us to be more understanding and compassionate about ourselves and others.

This new vantage may transform the way you care for your clients. The choices they make in relation to their health may be orchestrated by deeply rooted genes, making change understandably difficult.

Renowned behaviorist B.F. Skinner stated many decades ago that our hormones were the most powerful influence over how we live our lives. More recently, Candyce Pert, Ph.D., author of Molecules of Emotions, has done research that demonstrates exactly how the brain’s neuropeptides achieve our behavior outcomes.

 

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November 15, 2016

Holding In Our Emotions Can Lead To Illness

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD

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The way we feel — especially when we feel hurt or angry — can cause negative effects in the body due to the neurological and neurochemical connections between body and mind. If we internalize anger, our nervous and hormone systems react, creating neurotransmitter chemicals that can lead to harmful side effects. This can compromise our health as well as our personal and professional relationships. In short, holding in our emotions can lead to illness as well as unhappiness.

Angry Consequences 

Anger that is felt over a period of time is unhealthy. When we become angry and do not express ourselves in a productive manner, the body reacts through the stress adaptation response. This includes biochemical physical responses that can lead to illness or death. If we are habitually angry, the conditions that can occur as a result of this physical response to the chronic or ongoing anger include:

-Asthma
-Elevated blood pressure
-Glaucoma
-Heart attack
-Hiatus hernia
-Hives
-Increased heart rate
-Low back pain
-Migraines
-Psoriasis
-Shortened life expectancy
-Stroke
-Tense muscles
-Ulcers

In addition to thousands of anger and stress studies, many other health studies have connected anger to loneliness, chronic anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sleep disorders, obsessive-compulsive behavior and phobias. It can also have a detrimental effect on our relationships and threaten the development and maintenance of intimate relationships. Communication is the key to learning how to handle our anger and creating healthy and fulfilling relationships.

Better Communication Skills For Better Health

Learning how to communicate does not have to be complicated. While most of us have developed communication skills from our families and environment, there are easy-to-learn, proven skills that can provide you with the tools and knowledge you need to be able to channel and express your anger or hurt feelings appropriately.

When we are able to express our feelings (be they sadness, frustration or anger), we feel more in control of our lives. We are able to create the type of relationships we want to experience with others.

Current research has clearly shown that it is healthier to express and resolve our relationship issues than it is to hold them in and allow them either to make us ill or to cause conflicts at work, home or with friends and colleagues.

 

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