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In Defence of Grains

Paleo or Macrobiotics? Sahaja Coventry sees good in both diets which eliminate processed and refined foods.

NOVA Magazine, Australia's Holistic Journal

I recently came across an online article in The Observer pitting the Macrobiotic diet against the currently popular Paleo diet. The article’s subheading was “Diet Wars” and I sighed. I pondered the issue of food choices, fads and trends and how baffling it is for many people these days. I wondered how much our belief in what we eat influences whether it heals or harms.

Belief or no belief, when we experience unpleasant or serious physical symptoms, the whole concept of “correct diet” becomes abstract and we desperately seek the right foods, the right practitioners and the right practices to help us feel better.

I understand this very well from my own experience of serious illness after contracting dengue fever in India 20 plus years ago. When I didn’t recover, I was lumped into the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome basket and all Western medicine could offer was bed rest. I began to explore what I could do to get my life back. 

Intuitively guided, I pulled out some old macrobiotic books. Macrobiotics literally translates to “great life” and was the foundation of the plant-based whole foods, organic movement in the 1960s.

It maintains the reputation of the diet for serious health recovery. My mind made the switch that food would now become medicine. 

I also resonated with the concepts of finding a path aligned with the Tao, harmony with nature, seasonal eating and balance of yin and yang. This began a journey of self healing with foods and consequently teaching wholefoods since 1995.

A couple of years ago I was sitting in a café in South Fremantle and saw a young student who had spent a few months studying with me. She looked radiant and slim. She was never overweight, just a little excess pudge. Well pudge no more - in waltzed a hottie who I barely recognised.

I hadn’t seen her for two years and I was surprised. She came over, almost apologetically, to let me know that she discovered the Paleo diet and had dropped all grains from her diet.

The weight melted away and she felt great. She had discovered men in this time and had her first boyfriend so, in the spirit of the big picture, I can’t exclude that...

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Nova View:
Privilege to be celebrating our 21st birthday

To be the editor of a holistic magazine is a privilege at any time but never more so than this month when NOVA celebrates its 21st birthday! Since we started out in Fremantle in March 1994 as the original free holistic journal in Australia, it’s been a voyage of self discovery in which we’ve discovered all our weaknesses, but also our collective strengths. 

Meeting a monthly deadline over all those years so that we’ve managed to reach issue No 246 still on the right side of sanity sometimes amazes me.  And I’ve only been at the helm for the past 14 years, so others must take the credit for guiding NOVA in those early days when the magazine was finding its way as something very different to mainstream fare. Maybe that could only have happened in breezy Fremantle!

Of course, it’s only been possible thanks to the commitment of so many regular writers who find the time each month in their busy schedules to explore new directions in their own modalities. My thanks go to all those who’ve been before and those who are with us now. Astrologer Daniel Sowelu is the true “original” having been with us since that very first issue and now he has a devoted following all over Australia and increasingly overseas. Daniel’s travel schedule makes me dizzy but he’s always there with his next column and apologetic if it’s a day or two late. 

And where would we be without our advertisers?  Realistically, so much blank paper waiting for the words and images and insights that uplift and enrich us all every month. Join me in sending a wave of gratitude to these hardworking businesspeople who make it all possible for you and me every month.

There are so many others too - staff colleagues, designers, IT geniuses, delivery drivers - there’s a surprising array of people involved in bringing a magazine to fruition each month in print and online, something that makes publishing such a buzz. 

Inspiring people come our way regularly too and this month we learn with great joy that Amma, the indefatigable and much loved hugging saint of India, is on her way again to our shores in April. When I first heard that I felt a wave of peace come over me - I’ll always remember meeting her and conducting a memorable interview where she answered my questions through her guru/interpreter, all the while continuing to hug and give her full attention to those in her embrace. Not a hint of impatience, just unconditional love to all of those who queued for hours for a hug like no other. Amma will appear in Sydney and Melbourne so if you need to travel make your plans now. 


Margaret EvansRead the Nova View
by Nova Editor
Margaret Evans

Margaret Evans
NOVA Editor
March 2015

Toxins and Weight Gain

Health researcher Peter Dingle PhD explores growing awareness that toxins in everyday life are contributing to obesity and diabetes

Although high calorie fast foods and soft drinks are easily available, and people spend more time participating in sedentary activities such as watching television or using a computer, these factors are insufficient to explain the huge increase in obesity observed during the 20th century. It seems likely that the exposure to obesogenic chemicals plays an important role in the obesity and diabetes pandemic. 

Studies dating back to the 1970s have shown that low dose chemical exposures were associated with weight gain in experimental animals (1). Since then, a growing number of studies show links between toxins and weight gain, obesity and diabetes. Known or suspected culprits behind negative epigenetic changes include toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides, plastic compounds including BPA, diesel exhaust, tobacco smoke, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, hormones, radioactivity, viruses, bacteria and endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

The main role of fat cells is to store energy and release it when needed. Scientists now know that fat tissue acts as an endocrine organ, releasing hormones related to appetite and metabolism. Research to date suggests that different obesogenic compounds may have different mechanisms of action, some affecting the number of fat cells, others the size of fat cells, and still others the hormones that affect appetite, satiety, food preferences, and energy metabolism. Another mechanism through which these chemical obesogens can contribute to weight gain is through their impact on the gut microbiome, linking gut ecology and environmental chemicals to obesity and diabetes (2).

Role of BPA 

BPA, or bisphenol A, a chemical found in everything from plastic bottles to metal food containers, may be partly to blame for excess weight. BPA has been shown to alter the body’s metabolism, increasing weight gain and making it difficult to lose weight. A number of studies have reported elevated levels of BPA in obese and overweight individuals (3). BPA levels have been related to obesity in US studies (4,5) and in the Chinese population (6). In both American and Chinese schoolchildren, urinary BPA levels were associated with BMI (7-11)...

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