Those who follow a macrobiotic diet and follow the traditional macrobiotic approach believe that food and food quality can powerfully affect the health, well-being, and happiness of the individual who consumes such a diet.
The dietary regimen involves eating grains as a staple food, supplemented with other foods such as local fresh vegetables, and avoiding the use of highly processed or refined foods (junk food) and most animal products.
A macrobiotic diet can vary greatly, depending on geographical location and life circumstances.
A macrobiotic diet includes many of the same foods as a vegetarian diet, but in macrobiotics some types of fish and other animal foods are included according to individual needs. The two dietary styles share enough similarities that a vegetarian and even vegan version of macrobiotics is not uncommon.
The earliest recorded use of the term macrobiotics is found in the writings by Hippocrates, the father of Western Medicine. He introduced the word to describe people who were healthy and long-lived.
Author Michio Kushi of The Macrobiotic Way, and founder of the Kushi Institute one of the world’s leading authorities on the macrobiotic diet writes that classical writers like Herodotus, Aristotle, and Galen employed the term macrobiotics to describe a lifestyle, including a simple balanced diet, that promoted health and longevity.
Kushi says unlike the typical American diet, the Macrobiotic diet has a total pH value that is slightly alkaline forming in the blood stream.
This results in high levels of energy, immunity from colds and flu, prevention of stomach upset, and stronger and more healthy bones and teeth.
Kushi says that this is not simply a ‘diet," but rather a way of eating that recognizes food, the environment, a persons activities, and their attitude all have a profound effect on the body and mental well-being.
Foods Included In The Macrobiotic Diet
The recommendations for eating a macrobiotic include buying locally grown produce, purchasing organic foods that have not been treated with chemical pesticides.
It is also encouraged to eat foods that are in-season, consuming mostly fresh and raw foods. The diet mainly emphasizes plant foods with eating meat sparingly. Dairy products are avoided, as well as processed meats.
There is a strong emphasis on eating foods that are baked, boiled and steamed and using little fried and processed foods.
Nutrition in Clinical Practice says the composition of a macrobiotic diet can be altered in order to suit an individual's needs, with consideration of their particular health status.
This allows those with specific conditions, or even dietary requirements or preferences, to fine-tune their diet, while still adhering to the macrobiotic principles and recommendations.
People who follow the macrobiotic diet are encouraged to condition themselves to eat slowly and chew their food thoroughly.
Family Doctor's say that chewing your food thoroughly can significantly impact your health in ways you likely never knew.
- Enhances proper digestion and absorption
- Helps with weight management
- Good for the teeth
- Boosts the immune system
Foods NOT Included in a Macrobiotic Diet
As noted, a macrobiotic diet strongly recommends that foods must be eaten in their most natural state.
Therefore the following foods are avoid:
- Meat and Animal fats
- Refined sugar
- Fruit juice
- Processed foods
- Spicy foods
- Nightshade vegetables
Macrobiotics aim to achieve balance in every aspect of a persons life. Therefore, foods which are highly-concentrated and over stimulating should also be eliminated from the daily diet.
Macrobiotic Diet Studies
According to the 1997 report produced by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund, increasing daily consumption of vegetables and fruit from 250g to 400g may lead to 20% fewer cases of cancer worldwide.
Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews published a pooled analysis study showing that implementing a short-term (21 days) Ma-Pi 2 macrobiotic diet can significantly reduce glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, urea serum levels and cardiovascular risk in adults with type II diabetes.
The researchers also noted after the study that a Ma-Pi 2 macrobiotic diet suggests it can be classified as a functional diet.
Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism published a Cuban study of adults with type II diabetes saying that after a short (3 months) and medium (6 months) term study, blood pressure and serum biochemical indicators decreased significantly.
Progressive Health says that the principles behind a macrobiotic diet may be the key to avoiding Crohn’s symptoms and painful flare-ups. Known trigger foods for Crohn’s flare-ups are not part of macrobiotic diet.
Some studies reveal that following a macrobiotic diet has helped many people lower their blood pressure and serum lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides).
This is why some experts suggest that this kind of diet can also be used as an effective means of preventing heart disease.
The Macrobiotic diet is considered by some nutritionists to be too restrictive and lacking in certain nutrients, such as protein, vitamin B-12, iron, magnesium, and calcium, especially since vitamin or mineral supplements are not allowed. This can lead to serious health problems such as malnutrition and anemia.
However, it is difficult to dismiss the long term health benefits of any diet which is based on the consumption of organic and locally grown foods and the exclusion of highly processed ingredients.