Topics: Chinese philosophy, Yin and yang, Nutrition Pages: 6 (1137 words) Published: September 12, 2010
Lesli Deakins
June 12, 2010
Tracey Franks

Do not let the word macrobiotics scare you. The word simply means “long life.” The word macrobiotic is first found in German literature written by a scholar named Christophe Wilhelm Von Hufeland in 1776. Most people have the misconception that macrobiotics is just another diet. Macrobiotics is a dietary practice based on the Chinese philosophy of balancing yin and yang (see yin-yang). According to macrobiotics. (2006). In Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, macrobiotics was first articulated in Asia in the 1930s and swept Europe and the U.S. in the late 1960s. Adherents maintain that not only can the quality of life be enhanced but that serious ailments such as cancer can be healed; critics counter that uninformed attempts to practice such a diet can lead to malnutrition. Macrobiotics provides a healthier way of living due to its nutritional benefits for health and well-being. Of all the definitions I have read, I like the description on the Kushi Institute’s (2004) website that states, “Macrobiotics is a holistic and natural lifestyle, which addresses not only diet, but all areas of one's life.” Modern day macrobiotics takes the best of each phase and incorporates the healing foods within an open, flexible approach to healthy eating. There are two words that stand out in learning about macrobiotics. They are: way and philosophy. The macrobiotic way provides guidelines which encompass more than just food and becomes a philosophy in balancing all areas of life. The philosophy is based on the eastern concept of universal forces of energy which either expand or contract, known as Yin and Yang. Foods are classified into one of these categories based on the results they produce within the body. Those foods which do not have an extreme affect are considered balanced. Fruit and sugar are classified as yin; whereas, meat and salt are yang. Brown rice is a moderate food. For a good list of yin and yang classifications refer to the table at the end of this article. Macrobiotics is not as restrictive as some people believe. The diet is composed of

whole grains, vegetables (including a variety of sea vegetables), beans and bean products.

The modern, westernized diet allows consuming animal products of fish and seafood. What I

find interesting, that most diets completely ignore, is the inclusion of balanced oils,

condiments, seasonings and desserts. According to Wong (2007) the following is a guideline

for the Macrobiotic Diet; Whole grains typically make up 50 to 60% of each meal. Whole

grains include brown rice, whole wheat berries, barley, millet, rye, corn, buckwheat, and

other whole grains. Rolled oats, noodles, pasta, bread, baked goods, and other flour products

can be eaten occasionally. Soup, one to two cups or bowls of soup per day. Miso and shoyu,

which are made from fermented soybeans, are commonly used. Vegetables typically make up

25 to 30% of the daily food intake. Up to one-third of the total vegetable intake can be raw.

Otherwise, vegetables should be steamed, boiled, baked, and sautéed. Beans make up 10% of

the daily food intake. This includes cooked beans or bean products such as tofu, tempeh, and

natto. A small amount of fish or seafood in moderation is typically consumed several

times per week. Meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy are usually avoided. Fish or seafood are eaten

with horseradish, wasabi, ginger, mustard, or grated daikon to help the body detoxify from

the effects of fish and seafood. Seeds and nuts in moderation. Seeds and nuts can be lightly

roasted and salted with sea salt or shoyu. Local fruit can be consumed several times a week

including apples, pears, peaches, apricots, grapes, berries, melons, and other fruit. Tropical

fruit such as mango, pineapple, and papaya is usually avoided. Desserts are permitted in


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Kushi Institute. (2004). . Retrieved from
Wong, C. (2007). What Should I Know About the Macrobiotic Diet?. Retrieved from
Herman, S. (2009). The Pros and Cons of a Macrobiotic Diet. Retrieved from
Richards, V. (1990). The hazards of macrobiotics. Nutrition Health Review: The Consumer 's
Medical Journal, (56), 19
Brown, S. (2006). Macrobiotic History. Retrieved from
Aveline Kushi and Wendy Esko , (1985). Cooking in Harmony with Nature . : Avery
Penguin Putnam
Untalan, Connie. 2003. "Macrobiotics: New Life." Macrobiotics Today 43, no. 4: 17. Alt
HealthWatch, EBSCOhost
Kushi, M., & Jack, A. (1994). The Cancer Prevention Diet (2nd ed.).
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