Sunday, January 23, 2011

Not Getting Sick

My Russian friend Vera, with wild flowers.

 It’s how most of us think of health. Health is from the word heal and related to the word whole. In our American culture there are many things that tend to make us sick. Poor diet, even though we have the opportunity to eat better and more wisely than most of the world’s peoples. A stressful life style. Relying a lot on medicine.

There was a time when doctors solved disease by bleeding all their patients. In the Middle Ages. That seems laughable to us now. Fifty years or so ago they cut out the offending organ–tonsils, uterus, whatever. Now we are inundated with medicines. A young medical student told me that drug companies regularly took them to lunch. He told of how there is now a very expensive medicine for, say, high blood pressure, when the patient had had one almost as good, but the new one may cost five times as much.

Of course, some people do need medicine, but I question every medicine they want to give me or people I’m helping in a hospital. For instance, both during and after menopause, good doctors wanted me to take hormone replacement therapy. I gather that the research showed that it helped women with preventing heart disease and osteoporosis. But later research has also shown that it may increase your risk for cancer, and that an active woman may avoid both heart disease and osteoporosis. The logic of statistics doesn’t necessarily mean that you will benefit from the medicine the doctor wants to prescribe.

Also many doctors prescribe medicine for depression when it may not be needed. At this time in my life, at age 62 [I’m now 73 and it’s still true], I take no prescription medicines, which always surprises medical people. I do take a multi-vitamin (organic) every day, and I deliberately eat a balanced, vegetarian diet most of the time. I understand that the human body needs exercise. I have had to work on myself to make that part of my daily routine, but now it is for 30 minutes a day. I miss a day occasionally, but I average six out of seven days.

My staple is a complete protein bread of rye and soy. I was fortunate in being diagnosed with Meniere’s disease in my late 20s, which by my late 30s, led me to seek lifestyle advice from doctors and others. This is a syndrome of the inner ear. When it hits most severely, you feel that you are being whirled around. You grab hold of whatever you can to prevent yourself (as it seems) from being thrown around. The only thing you can do to stop it is lie down flat. If you persist, you vomit.

I learned to prevent my Meniere’s disease by walking, leading a less stressful life, eating well (less wheat when they told me I might be mildly allergic to it), getting plenty of vitamin C and the B vitamins. I do this with lots of brown rice and organic rye-soy bread (Bs) and yoghurt and orange juice every day (Bs and C).

Soy-Rye Bread (Complete Protein)

In a very large bowl, as the sponge tends to rise up over the sides, put 1/4 cup of black strap or other molasses, honey, brown sugar, or other sweetener.
Add 2 cups boiling water (you may use purified or spring water, as I do) and dissolve the sweetener.

Add 3 more cups of water and 4 cups of rye flour, using a whisk to beat it in. It should be a thick gravy consistency. Then add (when it’s warm but not hot) 2 T of active dry yeast (or 2 cake yeasts or packages of yeast). Mix in well. Cover with a piece of plastic (I use a grocery store plastic bag), then a towel. Let this rise for 1-12 hours. You can do it overnight. The sponge dough strengthens the yeast and gives the bread a slightly sour taste.

Add 1-1/3 cups of soy flour with 2 T. salt, beating well; then 1-1/3 cups of bran or oat bran with 1/4 cup of oil or olive oil; then add about 6 cups of white, bread flour (unbleached, if you can get it–whole foods stores often have it). I add flour, several cups at a time until dough gets stiff and hard to mix. Then, still in the large bowl, I knead it, adding as little flour as possible. It’s sticky, and throw in a little flour and keep going. Experience makes it easier. Knead it about 10 minutes until it’s elastic. Then cover it with the towel and let it rise about an hour until it’s double in bulk.

Divide into 4 loaf pans, let rise another hour or so until double in bulk, and bake at 350 degrees F. for about one hour. You can’t ruin it or hurt yourself by having a piece when it’s hot! The loaf is tender and gets a little smushed. Oh, well. It’s wonderful hot. It keeps well in the freezer. You can store it sliced and remove slices as needed, or store in halves and remove a half at a time. It’s best fresh–no preservatives. This bread is the secret of my success! I live on it.

From The PMZ Poor Woman’s Cookbook, p. 11-13.


  1. I've stumbled onto your website by blog hopping, and am happy to find you and your recipes! I am early to the party, having hit the PMZ at 46. Now almost 51, I'm still roiling in the hot flashes that have consumed me for a decade, and dreading the next bout of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo as the doctor calls it, which seems no different from Meniere's to me. I will try your bread and hope it helps. It's awful going through my days forgetful, irritated, sleep deprived, sweaty and dizzy too. So far Menopause is not my friend, but rumor has it there are better days down the road. I just hope they are not too far down the road, because I'm tired and cranky and raising two teenagers, which is it's own kind of crazy. Nice to meet you and looking forward to future posts.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Mel. I'm sorry that these days are so hard for you. I hope the bread helps. I wonder if your doctor has the correct diagnosis. Teenagers are plenty of stress as they are. One of mine, well before menopause, sat me down and said, "Mom, I know what you're going through. Grandma told me why you're so cranky lately." "Why?" I asked, not thinking I was at all unreasonably cranky. "You're going through menopause," she said. "No,I'm not," I said. Actually I think that the 40s and the need to make an adjustment toward aging well (going back and working on things we neglected earlier) can be more daunting than menopause. Take good care of yourself, Mel. Judy Hogan