Sunday, November 02, 2008

Part V The Macrobiotic Diet

3.5 The Macrobiotic Diet
The macrobiotic diet is not strictly vegetarian, although most people regard it as such. Fish and seafood are often a small but frequent part of a macrobiotic diet.

Grains form the bulk of foods eaten by a person on a macrobiotic diet. In fact, most macrobiotic supporters recommend a diet that is at least 50% whole grains, and it is not at all uncommon for a macrobiotic diet to be 80% grain based.

The second most important foods on a macrobiotic diet are legumes (10 to 15% of the diet), followed by seaweeds and hard vegetables. Nuts and seeds are rarely eaten, and usually salted and roasted when consumed. Fresh fruits are almost never eaten by a person following such a diet; indeed, apples are about the only raw fruit eaten, and other fruits are usually cooked and sweetened as a dessert.

Salts, salted foods, pickles, tamari (soy sauce), and miso are used heavily in the diet. The Japanese, from whom the macrobiotic diet was chiefly imported, eat more salt than any other population in the world. Even their plums are preserved and heavily salted. Nothing escapes salting in a macrobiotic diet.

Strangely enough, the macrobiotic health seeker avoids most fresh fruit and vegetables. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and other raw vegetables have no place in the macrobiotic diet. In fact, someone once said as a joke (but which is true) that a macrobiotic person is "someone who would rather eat a fish than an orange."

An avoidance of fresh fruits and vegetables occurs on a macrobiotic diet due to application of the mystical "yin-yang" outlook. Fresh fruits are considered too "yin" to eat, and they are often categorized in the same department as white sugar and artificial sweeteners. Most meat is considered too "yang" to eat, and grains (especially brown rice) are said to have the perfect combination of "yin and yang."

Besides the overuse of salt and the avoidance of fresh fruits and vegetables, the major drawback of the macrobiotic diet is that it is so heavily grain dependent. Dr. Shelton, when discussing grain diets, stated: "A cereal and pulse (legume) diet with a deficiency of green foods and fresh fruits is obviously inadequate. It is deficient in alkaline elements and Vitamins."

Another health pioneer, Dr. Densmore had this to say about the grain-based macrobiotic diet: "I object to bread, cereals, pulses and grains not only because of the predominant proportion of starch in them, but also because their nitrogen is distinctly difficult of digestion and the cause of unnecessary waste of vitality."

The macrobiotic diet has a strong appeal for those changing over from a conventional meat-based diet. Heavy grains tend to be as constipating and acidic as the meat that has been left behind. The heavily-salted foods exceed the high-salt American diet. The avoidance of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet certainly finds a kindred soul in the processed food diet of most Americans.

Yet it is an undisputed fact that people who follow a macrobiotic diet enjoy better health than those on a typical American diet. Why is that? Primarily because the macrobiotic diet is largely vegetarian. It avoids all dairy products and eschews white sugar. Simply the elimination of red meat, sugar, and dairy products will greatly increase one's health and vitality, and this is the strong point of the macrobiotic school.

Advantages: The macrobiotic diet is largely vegetarian. It eliminates many of the harmful foods present in the modern diet. It has a well-established history and provides an easily understandable dietary framework with specific recommendations and rules. It provides an easy transition for those breaking their addictions to white sugar, red meat, junk foods, and heavily-processed foods.

Disadvantages: The macrobiotic diet relies too much on grains and grain products which are third-rate foods. Salt is used in large amounts, and foods are almost always cooked. Fresh fruits, salads, sprouts, and nuts are rarely eaten, and never make up more than 5-10% of the overall diet.

Compared to the Life Science Diet: The macrobiotic diet is only similar to the Life Science approach in that junk foods, white sugar, red meat, and dairy products are eliminated. Other than that, 95% of the macrobiotic diet is unrelated to the optimum foods eaten on the Life Science diet—fresh, raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouts.

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