Tuesday, April 16, 2024


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Is it yet another deprivation diet or an eating model that has hopes of standing up to modern lifestyles and benefiting us? The macrobiotic diet, born in Japan, has been linked to longevity but it’s not for everyone.

Maybe you are tired of hearing about the industrialization of food production, overly processed foods and how many problems they cause to the health of modern people.

But you might be interested in learning more, because it is now known – as well as scientifically proven – that a Mediterranean diet based on the standards of the old vegetarian habits, can be beneficial in the prevention but perhaps also in the treatment of a weakened health .

With this reasoning and in opposition to the standardized Western diet, the Japanese intellectual George Ohsawa (1893-1966), proposed the macrobiotic diet , a diet model that aims to cover the nutritional deficiencies created by the excessive industrialization of food production .


Macrobiotic diet

Pexels  by Vanessa Loring


The macrobiotic diet is not aimed at weight loss , although those who follow it usually lose weight, nor at the treatment of any disease. But it is a return to a type of diet that was used in previous centuries . It emphasizes nuts, fruits and vegetables and less red meat, believing that this allows today’s man to live a better life and be healthy.

At the core of her philosophy is a holistic approach to health that incorporates many aspects of lifestyle, from diet and exercise to meditation, while foods are categorized according to their energy, their ‘yin and yang’.

The food pyramid of the macrobiotic diet

In general, what we need to know are the basic food categories that are either allowed or avoided in this particular diet, which are:

  1. Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat, barley, corn, millet, buckwheat , oats and rye should make up about 40-60% of our food.
  2. Fruits and vegetables at a rate of 20-30%.
  3. Beans and their by-products, tofu, miso as well as sea vegetables such as seaweed, at a rate of 10-25%.


Macrobiotic diet

Pexels  Jane Doan


What foods do we limit or avoid?

  • We are allowed to eat fish only once a week, preferably in winter.
  • Rarely and in small quantities we prefer dairy products and eggs.
  • We minimize the consumption of: red meat, chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, white flour and sugar.
  • We completely avoid over-processed and ready-made foods, flavored drinks, soft drinks , coffee and alcohol .

Some basic rules of the macrobiotic diet are:

  • Fresh vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked, but we must avoid those grown with chemical fertilizers.
  • From legumes we mainly use chickpeas, lentils and beans.
  • An important role is played by sea vegetables and especially the algae of the Far East, which are particularly rich in trace elements.
  • We only eat fruit and nuts at the end of the meal.
  • We eat only when we are hungry and drink only when we are thirsty.
  • We chew our food very well before we swallow it.
  • We only use natural materials such as wood, glass and porcelain for cooking and storing food.
  • We avoid the microwave oven and electric stoves.

What are the benefits of the macrobiotic diet?

Proponents of the macrobiotic diet claim that it can help with chronic diseases, including cancer . However, Cancer Research UK states that there is insufficient evidence that the macrobiotic diet treats or cures cancer and warns that adopting it may even have harmful effects.

If weight loss is the goal, then by adopting the macrobiotic eating model we are likely to lose weight. But we must be careful not to replace protein -rich foods with too many carbohydrates . Starchy carbohydrates such as grains and rice are easy to overeat.

According to research, a macrobiotic diet has a positive effect on heart health , with some studies also reporting lower blood lipids and cholesterol plus benefits in blood pressure management. This is due in part to the model’s plant-based, low-fat, high-fiber approach.


Macrobiotic diet

Pexels  Suzy Hazelwood


The macrobiotic diet may also have beneficial effects on people with type II diabetes , as well as non-diabetics who experience reactive hypoglycemia – that is, extremely low blood sugar levels about 4 hours after a meal.

Regarding the hypothesis that a macrobiotic diet can benefit chronic diseases , there is insufficient scientific evidence , which means that further research and time are needed to reach firm conclusions.

Some elements of this diet may be beneficial for women, as those who follow a macrobiotic diet appear to have a moderately reduced level of estrogen , which may help reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer.

This effect is probably due to the fact that the macrobiotic diet is rich in whole grains, which may also benefit postmenopausal women.

Who are not allowed to follow her

For children , the elderly , and those who are ill or diagnosed with a chronic illness , such as cancer, such a diet that restricts certain food groups can prove detrimental to nutrient intake.


Macrobiotic diet

Pexels  Ksenia Chernaya


Studies have shown that certain minerals and vitamins can be significantly reduced , including calcium , iron , vitamins B12 and D , and protein .

For those who are weak and possibly underweight, a restricted diet like this may not provide the variety and calories needed for recovery. Finally, especially for children, a strict diet such as macrobiotics can significantly affect even growth .

After all, should I follow her?

The best advice for such an extreme diet is not to adopt it entirely, and in no case on its strict terms , but to keep some rules that are likely to serve our eating habits and our health.

In any case, talking to both a doctor and a nutritionist before making any decisions is essential.

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