The definition for Macrobiotics can be found in the ancient Greek words, Macro meaning “Long” or “Large” and Biotikos meaning “Pertaining to Life”. Macrobiotics can therefore be interpreted as meaning, “The Practice of Long-Life”. The art of living a Macrobiotic lifestyle originated in Japan and is founded on principles that make it an attractive lifestyle for those who seek to live a life with greater health and happiness.
What is Macrobiotics?
Macrobiotics is a holistic way of life whose followers seek to live in balance, according to the Taoist principle of Yin and Yang. In very simple terms, Yin and Yang is the concept of two opposing entities coming together to create a harmonious whole. It is the recognition that everything has a life force and that all life forms and their energies are intertwined and interdependent. It is the aim of Macrobiotics to bring harmony, which according to the Yin and Yang concept can only be achieved when these forces are in balance.
Practitioners of a macrobiotic lifestyle seek equilibrium in their activities as they go about their daily lives. Their choices, decisions and actions are based on the effect their outcomes will bring upon themselves, upon others and everything around them.
What is a macrobiotic diet?
A macrobiotic diet is shaped by the concept of Yin and Yang, and classifies food by its degree of Yin or Yang energy. Yin means ‘shady side’ and in general Yin foods are cool, have less sodium, contain potassium and grow above ground. Yang means ‘sunny side’ and basically Yang foods are warm, have more sodium, do not contain potassium and grow in the ground. Depending on how Yin or Yang a particular food is, will determine how often it should be eaten. Below is a simplified list of the main food groups and where they fit into the macrobiotic diet, the principle is that ‘balanced’ foods should be eaten in abundance, while strongly ‘unbalanced’ foods -that are too Yin or too Yang, should be eaten only sparingly.
Eat in Abundance – wholegrains, leafy vegetables, root vegetables.
Limit to once per day – beans, lentils, soybean and its derivative products, sea vegetables.
Limit to 2-3 times per week – fish, seeds and nuts, berries, tree fruits, fruit juice, herbal tea and drinks.
Eat sparingly or avoid – meat (including Poultry), dairy products, refined food, sugar and other natural sweeteners (including honey), tropical fruits and nuts, nightshade vegetables, coffee, regular tea, artificial beverages.
Additionally, a macrobiotic diet strongly advocates eating in season and choosing foods that are locally grown. Food should also be prepared using sympathetic methods such as steaming and using kitchen appliances, but keep in mind that the microwave is a definite no-no.
Newcomers to this diet could be forgiven for finding it difficult or struggling to grasp the idea at first, but with perseverance, and as one becomes more ‘in-tune’ with their bodies, making the correct food choices will gradually become an inseparable part of anybody’s life.
Are there any health benefits of macrobiotics?
The health benefits of macrobiotics are not obviously tangible nor easily measurable. However, because a macrobiotic diet promotes eating natural food instead of refined, it makes sense that those following it will benefit by enjoying the general good health that comes from making good food choices. Specific claims that a macrobiotic diet is anti-cancer, can cure cancer, or that it can prevent heart disease, are yet to be scientifically substantiated. Fans of the macrobiotic lifestyle, in their devotion to harmonious living, also tend to make choices which result in an admirable well-being, choices like staying fit and active, as well as having a positive outlook on their surrounding environment.
Macrobiotics can help you lose weight
Given the nature of macrobiotics, it is reasonable to expect that following a macrobiotic health diet can help you lose weight. It is an eating regimen that contains foods high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. We’re talking about foods like brown rice, barley and oats, and plenty of fresh vegetables. On the other hand, macrobiotics discourages the eating of processed food, sugar and dairy products – foods that are intrinsically high in fat and calories.
A macrobiotic lifestyle is a holistic way of life that is based on living in harmony with nature. People who choose this way of life enjoy an abundance of natural fresh foods, and low consumption of refined, processed foods. By leading a macrobiotic lifestyle and living on a macrobiotic diet, people believe they nurture their mind and body.