- Diet, macrobiotic
- Big view of life, Chinese philosophy, crudivorism, diet, dietetics, grain, Japanese macrobiotics, macrobiotism, organic, phytoestrogens, pulses, vegan, vegetarian, whole foods, yang, yin, Zen macrobiotics.
- The earliest recorded usage of the term “macrobiotics” is found in the writings of Hippocrates. Translated literally, macro is the Greek word for “great” and bios is the word for “life.” The term “macrobiotics” refers to a philosophy of working with the natural order of life. Philosophers and physicians from many parts of the world have used this term to signify living in harmony with nature and eating a simple, balanced diet to live to an active old age.
- The modern practice of macrobiotics was started in the 1920s by a Japanese educator named George Ohsawa, said to have cured himself of a serious illness by changing to a simple diet of brown rice, miso soup, and sea vegetables.
- Macrobiotics is a predominantly vegetarian, whole-foods diet that emphasizes whole grains (especially brown rice), vegetables, fruits, legumes, and seaweeds. Some proponents eat white meat or fish once or twice a week, while others eat no animal products whatsoever – an approach referred to as “vegan.” Macrobiotic diets may be individualized based on factors such as climate, season, age, gender, activity, and health needs.
- Studies have shown increased risk for various nutrient deficiencies. However, proponents argue that with judicious menu planning, most vegetarian diets can supply excellent nutrition. The most common supplementation is with dairy products.
- The macrobiotic diet is low in saturated fat and high in phytoestrogens, which may help balance a woman’s hormones during menopause, reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and prevent breast cancer and endometriosis.
- Both plant-only and plant-based eating patterns have health benefits, most notably in reducing the risk of chronic, degenerative diseases.
- Macrobiotics is one of the most popular lifestyle approaches to cancer. However, the evidence as to whether or not a macrobiotic diet can help in cancer is mixed and inconclusive. Overall, there has been little evidence on the effectiveness of a macrobiotic diet aside from case reports.
There is evidence from one study suggesting that a macrobiotic diet might contribute to an improved ratio of HDL (“good” cholesterol) to LDL (“bad” cholesterol). However, more research is needed to explore whether such effects are reliable and meaningful.
The evidence is mixed as to whether or not a macrobiotic diet helps, hinders, or has no effect on cognitive functioning in children.
There is evidence that a macrobiotic diet may lead to reduced body size and obesity and increased leanness in preschool children compared to children on a normal diet. Studies are needed to determine whether or not these changes contribute to good health in children.
A macrobiotic diet has been advocated to preserve intestinal health. However, it apparently does not reduce the incidence of drug-resistant bacteria in the intestinal flora, nor infections caused by resistant strains in the gastrointestinal tract, compared to a diet with animal products.
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Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
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