Macrobiotics, from the Greek "macro" (large, long) + "bios" (life), is a lifestyle that incorporates a dietary regimen. The
earliest recorded use of the term macrobiotics is found in the writing of Hippocrates, the father of Western Medicine. In his
essay 'Airs, Waters, and Places,' Hippocrates introduced the word to decribe people who were healthy and
long-lived.[...]Herodotus, Aristotle, Galen, and other classical writers used the term macrobiotics to describe a lifestyle,
including a simple balanced diet, that promoted health and longlivity." (Stephen Blauer, in Michio Kushi (1993), The
Macrobiotic Way,2nd edition,AVERY, p.xi)
Macrobiotic methodology was brought to Europe from Japan by George Ohsawa (1893–1966). Ohsawa was a Japanese
philosopher, who was inspired to formalize macrobiotics by the teachings of Kaibara Ekiken, Andou Shōeki, Mizuno
Nanbaku, and Sagen Ishizuka and his disciples Nishibata Manabu and Shojiro Goto.
Ohsawa influenced Nishibata Manabu (who taught extensively in Paris) Owsawa ,subsequently, brought his macrobiotic
teachings to North America in the late 1950s. Macrobiotic education was spread in the United States by his students
Herman Aihara, Cornelia Aihara, Michio Kushi and Aveline Kushi, and their students.
George Owshawa coined the term for a natural way of living, macrobiotics, in the late 1950's. Macrobiotics, from the
ancient Greek language, means the way of longevity. This term has been used by many authors in describing longevity
teachings from the Far East.
Followers of the macrobiotic approach believe that food, and food quality, powerfully affects our lives . Food affects our
health, well being and happiness. The macrobiotic approach suggests to choose food that is less processed, more
natural, and to employ more traditional methods of cooking for family, friends, and oneself. The link between health,
behaviour and food consumption has been proven by modern research and studies.
Macrobiotics emphasizes locally grown, organically grown whole grain cereals, pulses (legumes), vegetables, fruit,
seaweed and fermented soy products, combined into meals according to the principle of balance ( known as yin and
yang). The new USDA food pyramid is more in line with macrobiotic food guidelines than the old "four food groups" model.
Dietary recommedations include whole grains such as brown rice and grain products such as pasta, a variety of cooked
and raw vegetables, beans and bean products such as tofu, sea vegetables, mild natural seasoning, fish, fruit, nuts,
seeds, and mild beverages.
Certain types of vegetables, such as tomatos and eggplant, are either avoided, temporarily, for health reasons or used
People who practice a Macrobiotic lifestyle try to observe balance in everything they do. They strive for balance and
happiness in their daily lives attempting to live in harmony with people,nature and their physical surroundings.
 Macrobiotic Diet composition
Whole cereals: 25-50%
Beans and Bean Products: 10%
The remainder is composed of Fish and Seafood, Seeds and Nuts, Seed and Nut butters,Seasonings, Sweeteners,and
 Other factors
, the composition of dishes and the choices of foods is is adjusted according to
Transition in One's Diet
and any other personal considerations
 Food preparation techniques
Food is prepared in various ways, including: Steaming, boiling, raw, ohitashi/blanching, nishime/long steaming,
nitsuke/sauteeing and boiling, kinpira/ sauteeing and boiling, sukiyaki/ stew, nabe, oven baking, baking in a pressure
cooker, tempura, frying
 Cooking according to the time of the year
food with a lighter quality
wild plants, germs, lightly fermented food, grain species, fresh greens
light cooking style: steaming, cooking for a short time, etc.
food with lighter quality
large-leaved greens, sweet corn, fruit, summer pumpkins
light cooking style: steaming, quick cooking, etc.
lighter grains such as barley, bulghur, cous cous, and corn
food with more concentrated quality
root vegetables, (winter) pumpkins, beans, cereals, etc.
heavier grains such as sweet rice, mochi and millet
food with a stronger, more concentrated quality
round vegetables, pickles, root vegetables, etc.
more miso, shoyu, oil, and salt
heavier grains such as millet, buckwheat, fried rice, etc.
 Switching to a macrobiotic diet
For those wishing to adopt the Macrobiotic diet, it is recommended that a person research it and either consult a
macrobiotic counselor or make a gradual transition to the macrobiotic way of eating. It is generally recommended that any
diet be adopted gradually: for instance, reducing animal products, refined flour, sugar, and dairy products, and adding
more whole-grain and vegetable-quality foods . Faster changes in your diet can be done with the help of a qualified and
well trained macrobiotic counselor.
Macrobiotic teachers and counselors vary in their knowledge. Choose ones that have many years of experience, training
 Amount of Yin and Yang in the products
Macrobiotic eating follow the principle of balance ( called yin and yang in the east). Products that are extreme are not
suggested for regular use. No foods are forbidden but better quality natural foods are always suggested.
Foods that are overstimulating can exhaust the body and mind. These are classified as extreme yin ( stimulating) in their
refined flour products
very hot spices
chemicals and preservatives
commercial milk, yogurt and soft cheeses
poor quality vegetable oils
Foods that are very concentrated , heavy and dense, create stagnation. These have yang ( ,strengthening but stagnating
Foods that create balance are whole cereal, vegetables,beans,sea vegetables, fruit from the local environment,nut and
seeds Foods such as these are used in a macrobiotic way of eating.
 Macrobiotics vs. normal Japanese cooking
The macrobiotic way of eating is erroneously said to be Japanese. A majority of the world population in the past ate a
primarily plant based grain and vegetable based diet in harmony with the climate. Because some of the original teachers
came from Japan, foods from Japan that are beneficial for health are incorporated by most modern macrobiotic eaters.
Many macrobiotic ingredients are also standard ingredients in Japanese cuisine.
 Macrobiotics vs. vegetarianism
The macrobiotic way of eating shares many of the same foods as vegan eating. One major difference is the selection and
preparation of foods according to the principle of balance that is used in the macrobiotic approach. This can make a
macrobiotic approach to veganism very satisfying. Many people who follow a macrobiotic way of eating are vegans. Others
choose to incorporate small amounts of fish or occaisonal other high quality animal foods.
 Examples of Macrobiotic Dishes
standard miso soup
miso soup with daikon
Click here to read the rest of this entry on the marcrobiotic diet.
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