What You Should Know
Macrobiotics is both a way of eating and a way of life. The term macrobiotic was first used by Hippocrates around 400 BC to relate to those with long healthy lives. The macrobiotic diet was brought to North America from Japan after the Second World War. The macrobiotic diet is based on whole foods, especially whole grains such as brown rice. Followers of the macrobiotic diet believe that the most powerful medicine we have is the food we eat and that if we eat whole, unprocessed foods, our bodies will be healthier and we will live longer.
There are many different views on what can and cannot be eaten in a macrobiotic diet but a common combination is: 30% whole grains (especially brown rice), 40% vegetables, 10% legumes and beans, and the rest gently processed foods, like seafood and fish, and seasonings and beverages. The macrobiotic diet does not believe that animal flesh is healthy and does not include it in its guidelines. Certain vegetables are also avoided as much as possible, especially those from the nightshade family, like tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes and peppers.
The macrobiotic diet also concentrates on the time of year the food is being cooked. Lighter foods are cooked in the spring and summer and more hearty fare is prepared in the fall and winter.
The philosophy surrounding the macrobiotic diet is complex but revolves around the concept of yin and yang, the interdependence of opposing forces in the natural world. If yin and yang become out of balance with each other, the environment, or in this case, the body will suffer and become diseased.
Most health professionals agree that the basic food rules of the macrobiotic diet are sound as almost all healthy eating regimens recommend fresh whole foods. The avoidance of certain vegetables appears to be more of the philosophy of the diet rather than health-related. Tomatoes contain lycopene, an important antioxidant and cancer fighting substance. Peppers contain Vitamin C and other important vitamins. Removing these foods from your diet require some planning as to how to get the nutrients from another source.
- Diet rules are balanced and healthy.
- The Japanese are one of the most long lived populations and they have lived on the macrobiotic diet for centuries.
- The macrobiotic diet is low in processed foods, saturated fats, and red meat which are all considered to be contrary to long-term health.
- Requires training to understand the reasons behind the food choices and how to keep them in balance.
- Can be confusing to those who are new to conscious eating.
The macrobiotic diet is even more popular today than it was mid-century when it first came to North America. Doctors and scientists continue to discover the benefits of whole grains and unprocessed foods and the macrobiotic diet fits the bill. Although you should always check with your doctor before making a radical change in your eating habits, the macrobiotic diet appears to be based on both ancient and modern wisdom.