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What is Macrobiotics?


Macrobiotics is an holistic approach to health and longevity through understanding the relationships between ourselves, our food, lifestyle, and environment.


Macrobiotics views sickness as the body's attempt to return to a more balanced relationship with the natural environment. The macrobiotic approach emphasizes the importance of proper diet and lifestyle.


The term "macrobiotics" first used by Hippocrates, the father of western medicine comes from Greek ("macro" meaning "large" or "long", and "bios" meaning "life"). More recently George Ohsawa wrote numerous books works combining western dietary theories 5,000 years of traditional oriental medicine. Inspired by Ohsawa. Macrobiotics as we know it was developed by Michio Kushi.


A macrobiotic approach to diet would suggest things like: eating more fresh vegetables, beans and whole grains, increasing food variety and using traditional cooking methods. It is also considered appropriate to eat smaller meals more frequently, chew more and maintain a positive outlook and active lifestyle.


Macrobiotic guidelines vary depending upon the country and climate in which you are living plus there are other refinements to be made depending upon your personality and body type.

However, general food categories and proportions for people living in temperate climates are:


Whole Cereal Grains: 40 - 60% by weight


Organic whole grains such: buckwheat, barley, corn, millet, oats, rye, and wheat. Brown rice is considered the perfect grain to be eaten as often as possible. Very moderate consumption of pasta or noodles, un-yeasted whole grain breads, and other partially processed whole cereal grains is allowed.


Vegetables: 20 - 30% by weight


Organic Vegetables recommended include: acorn squash, burdock, broccoli, carrots, Chinese cabbage, collards, dandelion, green cabbage, daikon radish, kale, cauliflower, pumpkin, watercress, parsley, mustard greens, daikon greens, scallion, onions, turnips, winter squash such as butternut, and buttercup.


Macrobiotics stresses eating locally grown vegetables as these will be in harmony with the environment and thus healthier. Cooked veg is preferred, lightly steamed boiled or, sautéed, but a small amount of fresh salad is OK, plus a very small amount of pickles. Japanese pickled plums are recommended.


Cucumber, celery, lettuce, and herbs such as dill or chives can be used occasionally (2 to 3 times a week)when in season.


Vegetables not recommended include: aubergine, beets, potatoes, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini.


Beans & Sea Vegetables: Approximately 5 - 10 % by weight


The most suitable beans for regular use are aduki beans, chickpeas, and lentils. Other beans may be used on occasion. Bean products such as tofu, tempeh, and natto can also be used. Sea vegetables such as nori, wakame, kombu, hiziki, arame, dulse, and agar-agar are an important part of the macrobiotic diet as they provide important vitamins and minerals.



Miso soup is a mainstay of the macrobiotic lifestyle. Soups may include beans, grains vegetables and sea vegetables. Seasonings include, soy sauce, tamari, and sea salt.



Any none aromatic or stimulating traditional tea can be taken. Drinks recommended include: cereal grain coffee, roasted brown rice tea, stem tea, roasted barley tea, dandelion root tea, and.


Spring water or good quality well water is recommended, without ice. Frequent use of fruit juice is not recommended.


Occasional Foods

Fish recommended include: fresh white-meat fish such as carp, cod, flounder, halibut sole, or trout.


As with vegetables, organically grown local fruits are preferred.


Nuts lightly roasted and seeds may be enjoyed as an occasional sna.


Sugar is right out, sweeteners that are OK include amasake, malt extract, rice syrup, and mirin.


Umeboshi vinegar or brown rice vinegar or may be used occasionally.


Foods that you really shouldn’t eat are: animal fat, dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry, refined sugars, chocolate, molasses, honey, anything unorganic, artificial vinegar, hot spices, and aromatic stimulating food, also strong alcoholic beverages.


One goal of macrobiotics is to become sensitive to the actual effects of foods on health and well-being, rather than to follow dietary rules and regulations. Dietary guidelines, however, help in developing sensitivity and an intuitive sense for what sustains health and well-being.

Macrobiotics emphasizes locally grown whole grain cereals, pulses (legumes), vegetables, seaweed, fermented soy products and fruit, combined into meals according to the principle of balance (known as yin and yang). Whole grains and whole-grain products such as brown rice and buckwheat pasta (soba), a variety of cooked and raw vegetables, beans and bean products, mild natural seasonings, fish, nuts and seeds, mild (non-stimulating) beverages such as bancha twig tea and fruit are recommended

Nightshade vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant; also spinach, beets and avocados are not recommended, or used sparingly at most, in macrobiotic cooking, as they are considered extremely yin.[citation needed] Some macrobiotic practitioners also discourage the use of nightshades due to the alkaloid solanine, thought to affect calcium balance.