Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

And… One More Reason to Fast!

Posted in Fasting by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 26 October 2015

When the Church calendar says “no wine,” observing this is not only good for your soul, but is also good for your health! 

1-month break from alcohol can ‘slash risks of cancer’ – study

Source: https://www.rt.com/uk/319772-month-break-alcohol-helps/
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Avoiding alcohol for just one month can slash the risk of developing life-threatening diseases such as cancer and diabetes, a new study has revealed.
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The study, carried out by University College London, found that a four-week break from alcohol can heal the liver function and lower blood pressure levels.

It also revealed that “going dry” for a month can lower one’s chances of developing cancer, diabetes and becoming obese.

As part of the study, researchers monitored 102 healthy men and women in their 40s taking part in a “dry January” campaign.

Beforehand, the women had been drinking an average of 29 units per week while men were consuming 31 units a week, both above the government’s guideline levels.

After the month of abstinence, participants lost nearly 6lbs (2.7kg) in weight and reported improvements in their concentration and sleeping.

Researchers also found that their “liver stiffness” – an indication of damage – had been reduced by 12.5 percent while their insulin resistance had decreased by 28 percent.

‘Substantial improvement’

Liver specialist Professor Moore said there was “substantial improvement” in the participants’ livers after their four-week alcohol break.

These subjects were probably average drinkers – they drank in excess of the guidelines. We studied them before and after the dry month,” she told the Telegraph.

There was certainly substantial improvement in various parameters of the liver. The other parameters, blood pressure, cholesterol, how well the subjects slept were also substantial,” she added.

Moore said public health bodies should be “interested” by the findings of this study.

Does it have a sustained impact? We think we will find people drink less going forward.

The next thing would be to extend the dry January beyond one month to two months, three months.”

According to the Times, the Department of Health is examining the study’s results as it prepares new guidelines on safe drinking.

‘Excited’ by findings

Liver specialist Gautam Metha, who oversaw the study, said she is “excited” as some of the findings are “pretty novel.”

I am excited. There are some findings that will be pretty novel. It’s an important study which shows the benefit from a month’s abstinence. What we can’t say is how long those benefits are, how durable those benefits are,” the Daily Mail on Monday reported her as saying.

The National Health Service (NHS) advises Britons to consume not more than the recommended alcohol intake to avoid related diseases in the future.

Under the official alcohol unit guidelines, men should not drink more than 3-4 units per day and women should not exceed 2-3 units per day.

Alcohol’s hidden harms usually emerge after a number of years, when serious health issues, such as liver problems or high blood pressure can develop.

However, alcohol isn’t the only sugary treat that people should be avoiding.

‘Bacon and sausages major cause of cancer’

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that bacon, ham and sausages are a major cause of cancer.

The report, published Monday, said there is sufficient evidence to rank the meats as group 1 carcinogens because of a causal link with bowel cancer.

Head of the International Agency for Research’s monographs programme Dr Kurt Straif said the risk of cancer increases with the amount of meat consumed.

For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed,” he said.

In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance,” he added.

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Note: It important to remember that these studies and health facts have little to do with the Orthodox discipline of fasting. But the problem is that in many cases, modern Orthodox Christians began to understand fasting merely as a vegan or near-vegan diet. This is incorrect, but sadly, it is a fact of our modern Orthodox mindset. So, for those who wonder why we need to go on a vegan diet for a month-or-so a few times a year, there is at least one reason–it is good for your health!  

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Why We Should Fast More!

Posted in Fasting by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 26 October 2015

After thoroughly reviewing the accumulated scientific literature, a Working Group of 22 experts from 10 countries convened by the IARC Monographs Programme classified the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A), based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect. This association was observed mainly for colorectal cancer, but associations were also seen for pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer

WHO Press Release: http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf

Processed meats pose same cancer risk as smoking and asbestos, reports say

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/26/processed-meats-pose-same-cancer-risk-as-smoking-and-asbestos-reports-say

The World Health Organisation is expected to issue new guidelines warning that processed meat products such as bacon and sausages are a cancer risk on the scale of smoking and asbestos.

Reports have claimed the UN’s health body will highlight the dangers of eating processed meats on Monday by putting bacon, burgers, ham and sausages on its list of cancer-causing substances.

Even fresh red meat is expected to be listed as unhealthy. According to the latest survey of the British diet, the average adult eats around 71g of red meat a day.

The warning on the “carcinogenicity of red and processed meats” is expected to come in a WHO and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluation published in the Lancet. The WHO has not denied the reports, but has said there was no leak of the findings.

The guidelines would bring the UN’s position in line with the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), which says there is convincing evidence that processed meat can cause bowel cancer.

But Dr Jill Jenkins, a GP and member of the Meat Advisory Panel, an industry sponsored body, said she would not be advising her patients to stop eating meat, but she did recommend caution over highly processed meat products.

“I think certainly that we should be keeping a low level, so everything in moderation,” she told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

“From the same body we have had advice about the carcinogenic effects of the air we breathe and the sun on our skin, so I think we have to take it within reason in that if you are stuffing in burgers and sausages and bacon every day, yes you are at risk.

“If you have some healthy, locally made high-protein sausage once a fortnight, well, I personally don’t consider that a risk.”

The Daily Mail, which reported on the WHO shift, said it had received the information from a “well-placed source”. In a note to the media, however, the WHO said: “Following random reports [on] Friday 23 October in the British press postulating on the outcome of the IARC evaluation on the carcinogenicity of red meat and processed meat, please note that there was no breach of embargo, as no embargoed material was shared with any news outlet, in Britain or elsewhere.”

See also: 

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/07/cancer-risk-processed-meat-study

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/red-meat-bacon-hot-dogs-processed-meats-cause-cancer-dangerous-smoking/

http://www.wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/data-specific-cancers/colorectal-cancer-statistics

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“Metropolitan” Salad and “Lay” Salad

Posted in Fasting, Recipes by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 24 March 2015

Русский здесь

“Metropolitan” Salad

In Orthodoxy, a metropolitan is addressed as “The Very Most Reverend,” which is probably supposed to mean “truly most reverend” (‘very’ from ‘veritas’), lest there be any doubt. My salad is very most simple. That is to say, it really is very simple.

Add chopped parsley and umeboshi vinegar to shredded cabbage, mix and enjoy. That’s it. This salad is not only very most simple, but also very most lenten and very most tasty.

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“Lay” Salad

The life of a lay person is difficult and thorny–anything can happen. This salad is a “mixed bag” just like a human life.

cooked quinoa

cooked lentils

tomatoes (heirloom or Campari)

cucumber

Kalamata olives

parsley

garlic

lemon juice

umeboshi vinegar

You may also add onion, which I do sometimes, and olive oil, which I do not add. All proportions vary according to your individual taste. By the way, this salad is a source of complete protein, so fast to your health!

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Ladder of Divine Ascent

Posted in Fasting, Reflections, Sermons by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 21 March 2015

On the fourth Sunday of Great Lent, we celebrate the memory of Saint John, the Abbot of Mount Sinai. For centuries, his work, The Ladder, has been a favorite Lenten reading for those who wish to ascend from earth to heaven, and many pastors urge their parishioners to learn from this treasure chest of ascetic wisdom.

Much can be said about the gems contained in the work of Saint John of the Ladder, but I have been thinking about the very image of the ladder. A ladder is not a wormhole; it is not a teleportation device. A ladder has steps, and one has to step on one before stepping on the next, climb on the lower level before continuing to a higher one. The image of a ladder reveals to us the gradual nature of ridding ourselves of passions and acquiring virtues.

(more…)

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New Lenten Sandwich

Posted in Fasting, Recipes by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 17 March 2015

Русский здесь

I was making lunch sandwiches for my children to take to school this morning and accidentally “invented” a new sandwich.

The photo seems self-explanatory.

Bread (in the photo is rye sourdough)

Tofu (in the photo is extra firm, but firm should work just the same)

Guacamole

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“Monastery” Salad Dressing

Posted in Fasting, Recipes by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 15 March 2015

Русский здесь

This is a very simple salad dressing which I “spied” at the Holy Archangels Monastery in Kendalia, TX (PHOTOS ARE HERE)

5 tablespoons of tahini

juice from 2 small lemons or 1 large one

2 cloves of garlic, grated

1/2 teaspoon of salt

3 tablespoons of water

The monks also added copped fresh dill, but I did not happen to have any.

Put everything into a bowl, mix with a fork, and pour on your salad. All ingredients can be adjusted to taste: more of less garlic, water, salt, you may add pepper, dill, chives, etc.

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Simple (and completely Lenten) Hummus

Posted in Fasting, Recipes by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 28 February 2015

Русский здесь

This hummus is very simple and ‘fully’ Lenten–it uses no added oil at all.

2 cups of cooked garbanzo beans (I cooked my own in a pressure cooker, but canned would work just the same)

1/4 cup of tahini

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

1-2 cloves of garlic

Juice from 1 lemon (I also put lemon pulp in my hummus after taking out the seeds)

Enough water to make it creamy

Add any other spices you like.

Put everything into a food processor, mix and enjoy on bread or a a dip for raw vegetables!

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Fasting during the First Week of Great Lent

Posted in Fasting by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 24 February 2015

“On the first day of the first week of the the holy and great forty-day [Lent], that is to say, on Monday, one is not supposed to eat at all, and it is the same on the second day. On Wednesday, after the completion of the Presanctified, a meal is served, and we eat warm bread, and of warm vegetable food, and wine mixed with water, and honey drink [1]. Those who cannot keep the first two days, eat bread and drink kvass [2] after vespers on Tuesday. The elderly do the same. On Saturdays and Sundays we allow oil and also wine. In other weeks, we fast until evening for five days, and eat uncooked food [3], except on Saturdays and Sundays. And may we not dare to eat fish for all of the forty-day [Lent], except on the feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos and Palm Sunday. <…> If a monk spoils the holy forty-day [Lent] through his gluttony and eats fish, except on the feast of the Annunciation and Palm Sunday, let him not partake of the Holy Mysteries on Pascha, but repent for two weeks and make 300 prostrations each day and each night.”

Типикон, сиесть устав. Киев, 1997, гл. 32. Trans. Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

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Translator’s notes:

1–“оукропъ съ медомъ”–Usually, ‘оукропъ’ is wine mixed with water, but in this particular phrase, rather than ‘wine mixed with water and honed drink,’ the phrase could potentially mean ‘a mixed honey drink,’ that is to say, water mixed with honey. The reason for keeping ‘wine’ in the translation is that on days when the Liturgy is served, a small amount of wine mixed with water is given to communicants after partaking of the Holy Mysteries.

2–kvass is a fermented drink made with grains and/or berries

3–xerophagy: bread and uncooked vegetables

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Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete (pdf)

Posted in Fasting by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 23 February 2015

Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete (pdf)

The Great Canon is read on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the first week of Great Lent.

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See also:

What to watch during Lent

Fasting for Non-Monastics

 

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What to watch during Lent

Posted in Fasting, Practical Matters by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 20 February 2015

Here are some videos to watch during Lent. I will keep adding new ones as I find them.

Also, check out the new post, “What to watch during Lent 2”

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Dr. Jay Gordon: No one needs meat for health

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Following up on one of the most influential documentaries of all time, Forks Over Knives, comes Forks Over Knives – The Extended Interviews. This video includes never-before-seen footage from the film’s expert interviews, covering several themes in greater depth and addressing important issues that weren’t touched on in the movie. Forks Over Knives – The Extended Interviews covers more than 80 topics.

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In this fiery and funny talk, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman weighs in on what’s wrong with the way we eat now (too much meat, too few plants; too much fast food, too little home cooking), and why it’s putting the entire planet at risk.

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Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn argues that heart attacks, the leading cause of death for men and women worldwide, are a “food borne illness” and explains why diet is the most powerful medicine.

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Celebrated Cornell University professor T. Colin Campbell Phd, presents the overwhelming evidence showing that animal protein is one of the most potent carcinogens people are exposed to.

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Olympic gold medal winner Carl Lewis describes how his best athletic performances came after he eliminated all animal products from his diet.

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He’s VEGAN — James “Lightning” Wilks, an MMA fighter best known to many for winning The Ultimate Fighter TV challenge, US vs. UK. James holds a Black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a Brown belt in Brazilian Jui Jitsu. Listen to James relate decision to go 100% plant-based.

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A fateful blizzard on a drive to Tahoe led to a conversation about food and nutrition, which inspired bodybuilder Joshua Knox, a Google employee, to go vegan for a week. One week turned into a 1.5 year lifestyle experiment with bodybuilding and diet.

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Fasting for Non-Monastics [Kindle Edition]

Posted in Articles, Fasting, Practical Matters by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 27 December 2013

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AVAILABLE NOW ON KINDLE FOR $1.44:  

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K5B0GF8

INTRODUCTION

A curious phenomenon can be observed in the interactions between pastors and their parishioners at the beginning of each major fast of the Church. Pastors attempt to call their parishioners’ pious attention to the spiritual heights of fasting: the fighting against sin, the conquering of passions, the taming of the tongue, the cultivation of virtues. In turn, parishioners pester their pastors with purely dietary questions: when fish is allowed, whether soy milk or soy hotdogs are Lenten foods, whether adding milk to coffee is breaking the fast, or whether there is some dispensation that can be given to the young, the elderly, those who study, those who work, women, men, travelers, the sick, or those who simply do not feel well. In response to the overwhelming preoccupation with dietary rules to the detriment of the spiritual significance of fasting, some pastors, seemingly out of frustration, began to propose in sermons and internet articles that dietary rules are not important at all: if you want yogurt during Lent, just have some as long as you do not gossip; if you want a hamburger, then eat one, as long as you do not devour a fellow human being by judging and backstabbing. Unfortunately, such advice rarely helps eradicate gossip, judging or backstabbing. Rather, it seems to confuse people into thinking that since they have not yet conquered these and many other vices in their hearts, they do not have to fast from hamburger either. Thus, I would like us to discuss the very topic which fascinates so many lay people: what the fasting rules are and how they are to be followed by those of who have not taken the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.

(more…)

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Forgiveness Sunday

Posted in Fasting, Sermons by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 13 February 2010

Русский: Прощеное воскресенье

Matthew 6 (RSV):

14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;
15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

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Tomorrow we enter the holy days of Great Lent, and the Church calls us to ask forgiveness of one another with repentance and humility in our hearts.  We will enter a holy place and time.  In the time of the Law, God’s people travelled every year to the Holy City of Jerusalem and entered the Temple to offer a cleansing sacrifice.  In the weeks leading up to Great Lent, we hear wondrous words chanted in church: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning” (Ps. 137).  It is now time for us to remember the Heavenly Jerusalem, our Fatherland.  It is now time for us to direct our path to the Holy City and to enter the Temple of the Spirit to offer a living sacrifice, the fruit of repentance. (more…)

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