Most of us have heard of the macrobiotic diet. Few of us actually know what that means. Here are some details on the blend of diet, spiritualism and sustainability that makes up the modern macrobiotic diet.
Today's macrobiotic diet has its roots in ancient Japan, hence the attention to balancing the yin and yang of foods. Cold and sweet foods are considered yin or passive foods. Hot and salty foods are considered yang or aggressive foods. Most foods are eaten raw or only slightly prepared, through baking, boiling or steaming. Locally grown foods are encouraged.
Processed foods are discouraged. Other prohibited foods include fatty meats and poultry, dairy, processed sugar, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, chocolate, potatoes and squash. Some fruits and vegetables are permitted in limited quantities, like tomatoes and peppers.
Enjoying and celebrating food and the eating experience is encouraged. Followers of the macrobiotic diet eat their meal slowly and chew each bite of food extensively. This promotes enjoyment of the subtle flavors of the featured foods while it allows your body to feel full before you over eat.
A typical macrobiotic diet consists of about half grains (mostly brown rice), one quarter vegetables, ten percent legumes and beans and the balance coming from locally sourced fish, seeds, nuts and fruits. Miso soup is suggested at least once a day. It is important to balance the vegetables for proper nutrition or take a vitamin supplement. Otherwise nutritional deficiencies could result, especially iron and calcium.
The word "macrobiotic" is a combination of Greek roots that mean "long life." That was certainly the foundation of the diet and philosophy. The diet came to the U.S.from Japan in the 1960s and gained prominence in the late 1970s when Michio Kushi opened his institute in Boston that promoted the macrobiotic lifestyle. In the 1980s a prominent physician and head of a hospital in Philadelphia published a book that claimed that his macrobiotic diet cured his prostate cancer. There is no scientific basis for this claim, but it certainly catapulted the macrobiotic diet to fame.
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