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October 15, 2015

I was not planning to do a Blog this week, but with the escalating horrific stabbings and violence that is going on in Israel and calls to do an extra Mitzvah in support of Israel, I thought I would do my share and try spread the words of our Torah. We cannot imagine what it is like for the victims, families and all the Jews living in Israel at this time! Let’s just stand in support of Israel – Am Yisrael Chai!

“…that’s what medical school does – it teaches you to treat symptoms; it doesn’t teach you to treat a larger cause; it doesn’t teach food as medicine.” – Garth Davis, MD

Below is a summary of Parsha (Torah Portion) Noach (Noah) from

G‑d instructs Noah—the only righteous man in a world consumed by violence and corruption—to build a large wooden teivah (“ark”), coated within and without with pitch. A great deluge, says G‑d, will wipe out all life from the face of the earth; but the ark will float upon the water, sheltering Noah and his family, and two members (male and female) of each animal species.

Rain falls for 40 days and nights, and the waters churn for 150 days more before calming and beginning to recede. The ark settles on Mount Ararat, and from its window Noah dispatches a raven, and then a series of doves, “to see if the waters were abated from the face of the earth.” When the ground dries completely—exactly one solar year (365 days) after the onset of the Flood—G‑d commands Noah to exit the teivah and repopulate the earth.

Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifices to G‑d. G‑d swears never again to destroy all of mankind because of their deeds, and sets the rainbow as a testimony of His new covenant with man. G‑d also commands Noah regarding the sacredness of life: murder is deemed a capital offense, and while man is permitted to eat the meat of animals, he is forbidden to eat flesh or blood taken from a living animal.

Noah plants a vineyard and becomes drunk on its produce. Two of Noah’s sons, Shem and Japheth, are blessed for covering up their father’s nakedness, while his third son, Ham, is punished for taking advantage of his debasement.

The descendants of Noah remain a single people, with a single language and culture, for ten generations. Then they defy their Creator by building a great tower to symbolize their own invincibility; G‑d confuses their language so that “one does not comprehend the tongue of the other,” causing them to abandon their project and disperse across the face of the earth, splitting into seventy nations.

The Parshah of Noach concludes with a chronology of the ten generations from Noah to Abram (later Abraham), and the latter’s journey from his birthplace of Ur Casdim to Charan, on the way to the land of Canaan.

I started this Blog a number of months ago, but was unsure about finishing it as I am no expert in the field nutrition and medicine, but just an honest bystander. I have decided now to complete it for a few reasons:

  • In Shul on Saturday I overheard 2 little girls taking. The one offered other some Bissli chips and the other responded that she is not allowed as her mother told her Bissli give you cancer – Quite a bold statement;
  • Lots has been written in the press regarding people like Belle Gibson and Ella Woodward (Deliciously Ella Blog/ Book Fame); and
  • I have noticed a few interesting quotes and articles, so thought I would just make this a “food for thought” type of Blog.

The questions that I am asking are (hope I do try answer them all!):

  • Can a diet cure health issues?;
  • Do people look for medical problems when it may only be their eating habits and lifestyle?;
  • Do people susceptible to disease benefit from change in lifestyle?; and
  • Do Doctors know enough about nutrition? Related to this is do Doctors prescribe medicine when changes to diet and lifestyle may just as beneficial with far better side effects.

In this week Torah Portion we learn about the evolution of the diet. Upon his creation, Adam, the first man, is taught by G‑d the ways of the world: “Behold, I have given you every seed-bearing herb which is upon the surface of the entire earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; it will be yours for food.” Seed, herb, tree, and fruit—yes; anything else—no.

Several chapters (and over 1600 years) later, upon surviving the devastation of the great flood, Noah leaves the ark and is told by the Almighty, “Every moving thing that lives shall be yours to eat; like the green vegetation, I have given you everything.” His diet now includes meat as well.

In an article by Baruch S. Davidson[i] he provides an answer “Only when “eating mindfully,” focusing on our divine mission, are we doing more for the animal than the animal is doing for us.”

thumbI think the important thing is Eating Mindfully.

“My heart goes out to every victim of #BelleGibson’s horrendous reckless lies. She profited from others’ desperation. #60Mins” – Mia Freedman

Belle Gibson is an Australian app developer, blogger, and alternative health advocate whose marketing platform was founded on her fraudulent claims of having donated significant income to charities, and of having foregone conventional cancer treatments to positively self-manage multiple cancers through diet and controversial alternative therapies. I in no way condone what she did, but if people bought her book and made positive changes to their diets, then at least some good has come from her story, but can a change in diet help the recovery from cancer??

Ella Woodward started the blog Deliciously Ella[ii] as a way of dealing with a relatively rare illness, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome[iii]. “The illness had a pretty devastating effect on my life – I literally couldn’t walk down the street, I slept for 16 hours a day, had never ending heart palpitations, was in chronic pain, had unbearable stomach issues, constant headaches and the list goes on – it was anything but fun” Ella tried conventional medicine with little effect and turned to took up a whole foods, plant-based diet and gave up all meat, dairy, sugar, gluten, anything processed and all chemicals and additives. “Eating this way has allowed me to take control of my illness, stopping the constant pain, restoring my energy and giving me my life back again. It really has healed me, and just eighteen months after starting this lifestyle I’ve been able to come off all my medication and I feel so incredible, better than ever really!

In the forward to Rich Roll’s book Dr Sanjay Gupta (CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent) made the following statement “This may surprise you, but most doctors didn’t learn nutrition at medical school. It seems almost absurd that our foods can be medicine. Nearly all I have learnt has been on my own”

I am in no way saying people should be swopping diet for doctors, and I agree with this article I read on the MamaMia[iv] website that has a dig at a number of wellness gurus like Sarah Wilson (I Quit Sugar) and Pete Evans (Paleo Fan) who make promises with no follow up and without a full understanding of the people who may follow them. Doctors care about their patients.

“Here’s the thing I want to say to people who are turning to alternative therapies instead of medical treatment: I know you’re scared. I know you want control. I know you don’t want to die. I can’t stop you dying but I can help with the first two if you let me. That’s what a good General Practitioner does each and every day. I can’t promise you miracles but I can promise you I will be there, right to the very end.” – Dr. Gillian Riley[v]

Lots of people say that I am genetically over weight or I can’t exercise for various reason… This is one think I most definitely disagree with. I heard a quote no idea of source or exact wording but will try share “If your body and genetics are a gun, your diet and lifestyle is the Trigger”

Cardiologist - Dr Joel Kahn

Cardiologist – Dr Joel Kahn

“The biggest cause of early death in the world is not smoking or alcohol – it’s what you eat” Dr Joel Kahn

From lectures and Podcasts I have heard Doctors have said that it is hard to provide a more “natural” treatment as patients want medication and don’t want to be told what to eat & how to exercise and from a Doctors perspective it is quicker to write a script than to explain a diet change in the limited consultation time. But there are Doctors who provide natural remedies like Michelle McMacken[vi], MD who specializes in plant-based nutrition and lifestyle medicine. “The fact that [doctors] are not given the training to use what is almost universally recognized as the most powerful tool [healthy nutrition] is crazy.”

I noticed a beautiful idea on Kashrut and Food which does not exactly fit in with the blog, but is worth sharing. The truth is that health reasons may be a reason for kashrut, but they are certainly not the reason. The Hebrew term used for “reasons for the mitzvot” is “taamei hamitzvot”. The literal meaning of “taam” is taste. Why would we describe the reason for a mitzva as the taste of the mitzvah?  The main reason that we eat food is because we need energy and nutrients. Without food we could not live. We also enjoy the taste of the food. If the only food that we had was tasteless, we would still eat it because we need it. However Hashem has blessed us with tasty food so that we can also have pleasure from eating. In no ways am I saying that we must stop enjoying food, but we must just be mindful of what we eat. I love my food, but I also love to eat healthy foods.

Patients are always ready to listen to their doctors. They’re the “professionals“. They “know stuff”! When a patient is told what they should do to get better, they generally listen and make change in their life.

“My advice for patients is ‘extreme in diet, moderate in fitness, abundant in love‘.” – Cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn @drjkahn #bestquoteever





[v] [v]

[vi] Michelle McMacken, MD, is a board-certified internal medicine physician and an assistant professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine.  She practices primary care at Bellevue Hospital Centre in New York City, where she also directs a medical weight-loss program.  An enthusiastic supporter of plant-based nutrition, she is committed to educating patients, medical students, and doctors about the power of healthy eating and lifestyle modification


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  1. mom permalink

    The converted understand what you’ve expressed but unfortunately the others don’t care & will never change their lifestyle. great pity!!!

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