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What is the Macrobiotic Diet?

By T Thompson
Updated Feb 16, 2024
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The macrobiotic diet is high in natural, unrefined foods, low in saturated fats, and rich in essential fats. The term "macrobiotics" was first used in the writings of Hippocrates, with "macro" and "bios" being the Greek words for "great life." It is based on the Far-Eastern philosophy of holistic living, in which the body's opposing forces of "yin" and "yang" are balanced, and emphasizes living in harmony with nature.

Grains and vegetables are considered to have the least pronounced yin and yang qualities, and therefore are the most commonly used in the macrobiotic diet. The foods that are considered extremely yin or yang are avoided when possible.

The basic macrobiotic diet includes the following balance of foods:

50 percent whole grains: brown rice, wheat, barley, oats, corn, etc.

25 percent seasonal vegetables

  • Eat regularly: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, mustard greens, onion, kale, radishes, turnip greens
  • Eat occasionally: mushrooms, snow peas, celery, iceberg lettuce, string beans.
  • Avoid: peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, asparagus, spinach, avocado, beets, and zucchini.

10 percent protein foods - soy products, fish, legumes, etc.

5 percent fruits, nuts, seeds, and drinks.

Excluded foods: Alcohol, Coffee, Sugar, Spices, Meats, Eggs, Cheese

The macrobiotic diet has many health benefits, and has been linked with improvements in many medical conditions, including serious illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. It is also recommended to patients with a high risk of cancer or heart disease, since it is a high fiber, low-fat diet that includes a wide range of vegetables and soy protein.

For anyone considering the macrobiotic diet, it is important to use moderation, since an extreme macrobiotic diet can be deficient in essential vitamins such as B12, calcium, iron, and vitamin D, and can also be severely deficient in calories. This diet is not suitable for children or women who are pregnant or nursing, and a vitamin supplement is probably a good idea for anyone considering trying out a macrobiotic diet for any length of time.

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