September 29, 2020
What is the Macrobiotic diet?
The word "macrobiotic" comes from the Greek word meaning "long life". The macrobiotic philosophy and diet was developed by Japanese educator George Ohsawa, who believed that simplicity is the key to optimal health.
Ohsawa's recommended diet advocated ten phases of progressive restriction. The last phase of the macrobiotic diet consisted of eating only brown rice and water. Because of this extreme restriction, the macrobiotic diet recommended by Ohsawa is no longer recommended by today's macrobiotic experts.
Michio Kushi expanded Ohsawa's macrobiotic theory and opened the Kushi Institute in Boston in 1978. Together with his wife Aveline, Kushi published numerous books on macrobiotics and was the main proponent of the diet in North America.
Why do people adopt this diet?
Typically, people interested in macrobiotics are looking for a healthier way of eating that integrates physical, spiritual and planetary health.
The macrobiotic diet is predominantly vegetarian, low in fat and high in fiber and emphasizes the intake of whole grains, beans, legumes and vegetables. It is low in saturated animal fat, dairy and sugar. In addition, the macrobiotic diet is rich in phytoestrogens from soybeans.
In alternative medicine, this diet is sometimes recommended for people with chronic ailments. However, there is no scientific evidence to support its potential benefits.
What are the guidelines for the Macrobiotic diet?
Whole grains usually account for 50% -60% of each meal. This may include brown rice, whole wheat, barley, millet, rye, corn, buckwheat and other whole grains. Oat flakes, noodles, pasta, bread, baked goods and other products made with flour may be eaten occasionally.
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Soup. One or two bowls of soup a day. Miso and soy (made from fermented soybeans) are often used.
- Vegetables usually make up 25% -30% of the daily menu. Up to one third of the total vegetable intake can be raw. If not, vegetables can be steamed, boiled, baked or sautéed.
- Beans account for 10% of daily intake. Cooked beans or soy-derived products such as tofu, tempeh and natto are included.
- Animal products. A small amount of fish or seafood can be consumed several times a week. Meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products should be avoided. Fish or seafood can be eaten with radish, wasabi, ginger, mustard or horseradish to help the body eliminate toxins from the fish.
Seeds and nuts should be eaten in moderation. They can be lightly toasted and salted with sea salt or soy sauce.
- Local fruits can be eaten several times a week. Apples, pears, peaches, apricots, grapes, berries, melons and other fruits can be included. Tropical fruits such as mango, pineapple and papaya are usually avoided.
Desserts should be eaten in moderation, about two or three times a week. Desserts can be enjoyed by people who are in good health. Emphasis will be placed on sweet tasting foods such as apples, pumpkin and dried fruits. They can use natural sweeteners such as rice syrup, barley malt and amazake. Sugar, honey, molasses, chocolate, carob and other sweeteners should be avoided.
- Unrefined vegetable oil should be used for cooking. One of the most commonly used oils for flavoring is dark sesame oil. Other recommended oils are light sesame oil, corn oil and mustard seed oil.
- Condiments include natural sea salt, soy sauce, brown rice vinegar, umeboshi vinegar, umeboshi plums, grated ginger root, fermented gherkins, gomasio (toasted sesame seeds), toasted seaweed and chives.
Dietary recommendations are individualized and based on factors such as climate, season, age, gender, activity and health status.
Some nutritionists consider the macrobiotic diet to be too restrictive and lacking in many nutrients, such as protein, vitamin B12, iron, magnesium and calcium.
Using the macrobiotic diet to improve health
Due to the lack of research supporting the health benefits of this diet, the macrobiotic diet cannot be recommended as a standard treatment for any ailment. If you are interested in trying this diet, be sure to consult a physician before beginning treatment. Lack of dietary advice and avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious health consequences.