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I find myself often regarding my own diet as a deeply personal issue, one of personal health, personal goals, and personal failures. I see the same pattern in most of my patients. We all want the diet that’s best for us, the diet to keep us healthy or keep us thin. The diet that will pull us out of an autoimmune problem or reduces endless sugar cravings. What we eat becomes a daily decision and in some cases a daily struggle. We struggle to eat what we think is right and we constantly rethink what we think is right. Pritikin, Ornish, Atkins, Zone, Vegan, Paleo and now, what I am staking out as THE diet, my diet, Dr. Kalish’s plan, The Tao Diet.

The Tao Diet is based on my 25 years of treating sick patients using diet changes and on my meditation experience and my personal realizations that it’s not all about me, really it’s not. The Tao Diet is founded on the idea that our “personality self” our views and opinions and even our health may not be the driving principle in our food decisions. Maybe there is a bigger game happening.

Healthy Environment

The Tao Diet starts with one simple principle everything is part of the one, one planet, one community of people and one spiritual self, in the order of priority regarding diet the one can be broken down into three components, from most important to least important:

Eat to make our ecosystem healthier.

Eat to make your local community healthier.

Eat to make yourself healthier.

Eat in a way that enlivens and strengthens our eco-systems, eat food that builds a healthier planet as ultimately our own personal health stems solely from the health of our environment. This tenet says that your food choices can either strengthen or weaken nature. This will in the end either strength or weaken you. You can’t be strong and healthy if the environment is sick and dying.

Eat in a way that supports your local community and other people. Organic red peppers flown from Argentina to Oakland, California’s Whole Foods may not support my local farmers or the environment. Food has to be a local issue, that’s just the reality of farming. We need freshly grown and harvested food to limit the environmental impact of shipping food long distances and to ensure nutrient quality which is derived in large part from field to table time.

Eat in a way that supports your personal health goals. This may mean a low histamine diet if you have a problem in that area, or an auto immune diet if you have auto immune problems. Some people thrive on grains some people get sick from them. Many people need animal protein to heal, others become toxic and harmed by it. The diet that works perfectly for you as an individual right now may be entirely different than the diet you will enjoy five years from now. I, now, at age 52 eat exactly as I did at age 22 and feel fantastic, but during those intervening 30 years I had to, due to stress, availability and my lifestyle, eat other than what truly makes me healthy.

Oh, and you can have as much ice cream as you want!

Ok, the ice cream part is a joke, but I mean all the rest of it. Let’s eat like we mean it, let’s eat like we want to make the planet a healthier place and guess what, that in turn will ensure we too will become healthier in the process.

I bought at Alfa Romeo 4C sports car last year. It’s not particularly expensive in the realm of sports cars but it is quite rare, so far only 753 have been shipped to the U.S. So I regularly check in to the online forum and have been watching how the various owners have been using their cars and what’s happening to them. Many people have crashed them or are driving them daily to work and back, one owner takes it to a regular automated car wash to wash it weekly (the car has openings in it that easily allow rain or water to come into the engine bay and destroy the battery). In short I see these cars being wiped out left and right from one common theme overuse / inappropriate use.

This particular Alfa Romeo is a car meant to be driven hard on a race track or to be taken out for the occasional Sunday drive in sunny weather. It’s not designed for commuting, you can barely park it and it’s certainly not meant to be outside in the rain since the engine is exposed to the elements.

Our brains are similar. The human brain was made to occasionally work very hard. Identifying a predator about to attack you, chop down a tree and haul it back to your village for heat and cooking, finding an animal you can eat, killing it and all the things we need to do to survive. Our brains were also made to relax, take it easy, be at one with the world and watch nature and our lives pass by.

Much like my new car, the brain was not designed for constant daily overuse, which is how most of us these days operate. The average person has around 60,000 thoughts every day! Being inside a brain with 60,000 thoughts per day is crazy. Many of our thoughts are negative and others are repetitive. I find most of my thoughts range from uninteresting to annoying to downright self-destructive. “I deserve ice cream tonight”, “too tired to exercise” to name a few.  A few thoughts are important, “better turn the stove off”, “need to fill the tank with gas”.

My one recommendation for how to keep your brain Meditation - Sunsethealthy is to cut your thoughts in half. What then would your brain do if it wasn’t constantly thinking random, disconnected and potentially useless thoughts? It would be “feeling” “being” it would be “present in the moment”. Picture a new born baby. Do they have 60,000 thoughts a day? No, they don’t have any language skills developed they can’t have a thought in the way we do, as self dialog, they are just feeling and being present in the moment. Crying, laughing, experiencing.

The time tested way to reduce our thoughts is meditation. I meditate 2-3 hours each day and for that time I have zero thoughts. I am being, I am feeling, I am very present and aware, but my brain is not generating language based thought patterns. When the brain settles down in a meditative state and the thoughts vanish, something new and fresh arises.

Buddhist MonksSpent all day Monday, November 5th, with Ajahn Chandako an old friend from my monastic days, who, unlike me, never left the sangha and is now a 23-year monk in the Thai Forrest Monastic tradition.

For those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of Buddhist monk life, about two generations ago, maybe 50 or 60 years, a large group of Thai monks revived a 5,000 year old tradition and rekindled the forest monasteries in northern Thailand.

One of these monks, Ajahn Cha went on to accept foreign monks and train them in this discipline. Forest monks went back to the roots of Buddhism and studied and practiced as the Buddha himself did following as closely as possible to the ancient traditions. They are the “Navy Seals” of monastics. They risk considerable hardship both mental and physical, and their training is intense–to the point that most people would drop out.

They weed out the weak and push the strong to their limits through the many years of early training. There was a period about twenty years ago when this first generation of forest monks created a huge shift in consciousness in northern Thailand and a large number of fully enlightened monks emerged from this fertile period.

Now, a second generation of forest monks follows, and Ajahn Chandako is in that group. He and I lived at a monastery in southern Thailand together. I lasted about 18 months, but 25 years later he’s still in the mix, being a great example of what one can do to change the world for the better.

Our day together started with a meal and from there we met with a group of Buddhist nuns, and ended up in a shop in the Haight Ashbury area of San Francisco, surrounded by a wonderful group of monk-friendly folks who came to support the monastery building project Ajahn is doing in New Zealand, where he is abbot of Vimutti monastery. He’s transformed the landscape of his land, planting 10,000 (yes, 10,000!) trees and creating a forest where there was none.

It’s an inspiration to me to see what is possible with a life well lived and how much suffering we can alleviate through adhering to a strict spiritual path focusing on forgiveness and working for the greater good and abandoning our personal needs as the sole driving force in our lives.

Best,

Dr. Dan

[Above: A photo of Ajahn and a young monk to be as we were touring the trees of Golden Gate park here in San Francisco.]

Ok, now the truth comes out, I was secretly a stand in for Sonny during several Sonny and Cher media events (see photo for proof). In all seriousness though, I did have an early start in over achieving and was voted “Craziest Guy” for my Berkeley High School class of 1982 yearbook. And if you’ve ever been to Berkeley, you know that is quite an accomplishment.

Speaking of Berkeley in the 60’s, this week marks a major loss, Dr. Bruce Commoner died, at age 95, after a 60 year career as the founder of the modern environmental movement. A scientist educated at Columbia and Harvard, he was the first prominent researcher to point out the folly of our ways when it comes to the creation of vast amounts of toxic substances from atomic weapons testing, to the use of pesticides. He also founded Earth Day, which I fondly remember, yes, from Berkeley in 1970.

His obituary from the New York Times is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/us/barry-commoner-dies-at-95.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&hp

Please take a moment to listen to Dr. Commoner’s short video (filmed a few years before he died) which outlines his perspectives on how much damage we have caused. Global climate change is just one of many disturbing issues. To me, what is of even more importance is the high levels of neurotoxins found now in every man, woman, and child’s body and brain. We are thinking with damaged brains and clearly our current level of decision making, as to how we care for this planet, is misguided. I believe we can start with ourselves, get our own body’s pollution cleaned up. Do a Mind Mapping program and clear up your brain chemistry. Then we can tackle some of the other issues confronting us all.

Spent three good days with the monks at Abhayagiri monastery  (http://www.abhayagiri.org/).  You can take the boy out of the monastery but you can’t take the monastery out of the boy. Here are some before and after photos of me in my early monastic years, age 23 and full of energy and ready to ordain as a monk sitting next to my buddy, then known as Jim. We both came back to the states to give away everything we owned, say goodbye to the family and head back to live as monks. Twenty five years later here we are again, Ajahn Chandako, a senior monk in the Theravada Forest Monk tradition and I enjoying a laugh at a Buddhist monastery in Northern California. Ajahn is now abbot of his own monastery in New Zealand. And me? Well I never did ordain, ended up rambling around Nepal and then coming home.

If you haven’t meditated before, please check it out, it’s a time tested route to healing.

As Lenny Cocco always says, “Inner peace is world peace.”

Blessings to all,

Dr. Dan

Spent last Sunday at Laguna Seca race track watching cars go around these turns at incredibly high rates of speed. It was a lot of fun and a big thanks to Shy, one of the functional medicine students that sent me free tickets and pit passes, much appreciated.

Saturday, I was in Phoenix all day at the Neuroresearch conference presented by Dr. Hinz. It was, as always, valuable to have a full day in class with other doctors focused on brain related issues. Many interesting things came up, for one we learned there are regional differences in brain function we can measure, literally by zip code, from these neuron function tests. In other words since there is a single database maintained by the lab we can see how different practices in different areas display vastly different patterns of brain dysfunction. In LA there may be, on average, massive dosing needs to maintain normal brain cell functions while in Steamboat Springs, Colorado the numbers can be even worse (bet you thought I was going to say better in Steamboat Springs!). Even though Steamboat is a small ski-town in a pristine area of the Rocky mountains, and it looks a lot cleaner and less risky for the things that damage brain cells like neurotoxins and stress than an obviously polluted area like LA, in fact Steamboat, before the luxury homes and ski lifts were built, was a mining town and the area’s groundwater and soil are contaminated with heavy metals that you’d never know were there.

These metals get into your body and then your brain quite easily. In fact, the brain has very poor protective measures against environmental toxins, it’s simply not something the design team was anticipating when the human body was developed.

Anyhow, if you live in LA or in the mountains of Colorado, New York City or Dallas, there is no where to go to hide from the environmental toxins we have dumped through coal burning and manufacturing processes. Interestingly, you can even see patterns that follow rivers that are polluted, for example, the rivers that flow down from the industrialized areas of the mid-west carry a heavy toxic burden into the communities below and you can see the devastating effects on the brains of people along the way.

Protect your brain; you only get one. Imagine you were given one car at birth and told you could only have that one car the rest of your life. You would maintain it really carefully. Ok, this is more serious than not having transportation, so get on it, test your brain, fix it, protect it with an amino acid based program.

Take care,

Dr. Dan



In the six month mentorship program, it is a thrill a minute: looking at lab work and fixing hard to diagnose cases with functional medicine protocols. This work is so simple that it’s glossed over and missed by many practitioners running to the world of complex and sophisticated protocols that are doomed to fail. More choices does not equate to better outcomes.

Simple and effective beats complicated and ineffective every time. Case in point presented by a student in a recent class:

48 year old female patient with IBS and hot flashes.

 

Lab work revealed two GI tract infections, cryptosporidum and blastocystis hominis, and Stage Three Adrenal exhaustion. She was taking 23 different supplements prescribed by six different natural health practitioners and was taking 7 different hormones: DHEA, pregnenolone, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid and melatonin prescribed by an anti-aging doctor with a penchant for scribbling out too much. More is not better. The better we get at functional medicine the less we do!!!

 

The student used the simple, effective, focused functional medicine model taught in my training program, originally handed down to me by Dr. William Timmins, ND, the same old protocol I’ve used for almost 20 years. Within 6 weeks her hot flashes cleared and by the end of month three, her GI upset improved to the point she only had problems when she strayed from her Paleo oriented diet plan.

 

 

 

 

 

Adrenal Protocol included:

DHEA 1.2 mg drops 4 drops TID
Pregnenolone 1.2 mg drops 15 drops TID
Multi Packs
Licorice Root Extract 10 drops BID

Herbal parasite program included:
Herbal anti-parasitic program with Artmesia, Oregano Oil Extract and a combination anti-parasitic herbal product all taken together TID

 

My mom is 1/2 Japanese and 1/2 Portuguese and my father was an Eastern European Jew, so I was actually born a Buddhist, Catholic, Jew, if you can believe that. Anyhow, while visiting the Big Island of Hawaii my Auntie (from the Japanese side) showed me the oddly shaped fruit growing in front of the house. It’s a noni plant. It’s one of the key components in many of the herbal programs I design for patients. It was fascinating to find out that my 82-year-old Auntie knows more about what I do than I do!

Also, you can note the donkey/tiger photo.

Yes the donkey is real, but the tiger is a large metal replica of the real deal since they don’t really have tigers in Hawaii. Again, another of my Auntie’s (on the Portuguese side) has an organic farm populated by large numbers of animals on the slopes of the volcano over looking Honoka’a on the Big Island. That donkey is not a nice donkey. While we were visiting, it went after one of the rabits and it took two sheep herding dogs to do the rescue.

What I was reminded of while visiting Hawaii…Eat real food. Get outside every day, in the sunshine, and be active for at least 90 minutes a day, minimum, and you’ll be like my relatives; fit, spry, and smiling and laughing well into your 90’s. Don’t eat processed food. Don’t spend all your time indoors, inactive. And don’t isolate from your community. It’s that simple.

Also, by the way, I’m not planning on working that much longer. So if you’re interested in a training program or becoming a patient, don’t wait, otherwise you’ll have to fly to Hawaii to see me on the Big Island on my farm!

Check out the graveyard, those are my great great grandparents, buried in the front yard of my other (93 year old) Aunties house, right on the coast of the most beautiful land you can imagine.

Cheers,

Dr. Dan

I’m in Hawaii this week visiting my family on the big island. My one uncle, Mike, owns a 550-acre organic farm and ranch that stretches seven miles from the ocean to the mountains and we spent the entire day motoring around on Jeeps. Quite an experience. He grows many, many things. In the picture you’ll see one of the 20 or so heirloom variety of papaya, he has 52 different types of bananas growing including the variety used by the ancient Hawaiians, and even four different varieties of passion fruit, none of which have ever been sold commercially. They are literally the picture of anti-oxidants, brimming with nutrients most people suffer without.

My Auntie Aiyako brings us endless special island dishes every day, fresh bamboo shoots, fresh caught fish, every vegetable and fruit that the tropics have to offer. Her husband is 84 years old and you’d mistake him for a man in his early 50’s. In contrasts to what I am used to seeing with my patients – years of bad food, inactivity, and spending one’s life indoors, at a desk, in front of a screen – this good quality food, fresh air, sunlight and lifetimes of rewarding hard work really do create healthy and vibrant people.

I had the great good fortune to spend the evening last week at Diane Sanfilippo’s book signing party in San Francisco, someone I have known for many years since she took one of the nutrition courses I teach.  Her new book, “Practical Paleo” is the latest contribution to the growing literature on how to eat, in modern times, as our ancestors did, not an easy feat for any of us. The book is full of valuable health information, covering everything from leaky gut issues to recipes. The production value is stunning with gorgeous photos that bring the books ideas and food choices alive. I have two copies at home already and highly recommend the book for those looking to learn more about how to eat well and cook at home.

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