The Zen Macrobiotic diet originated over a century ago and today enjoys a worldwide following due its principles of harmonious living with nature through a balanced whole foods diet, and an active lifestyle and respect for the environment.
Lets look at why the Zen Macrobiotic diet has such a reputation for being one of the healthiest diets in the world.
Origins of the Zen Macrobiotic diet
Dr. Ishizuka (the originator of the Zen Macrobiotic diet) suffered both kidney and skin disease, so to restore his health conducted extensive research which was compiled into two books-Chemical Theory of Longevity, published in 1896, and Diet For Health, published in 1898.
His great successor Yukikazu Sakurazawa integrated the theory with elements of eastern and western philosophy and gave the diet the name we know it by today.
Zen Macrobiotic Diet theory
The Macrobiotic philosophy is based on the oriental principles that everything in creation is made up of two antagonistic but complementary forces – yin (passive, silent, cold and dark) and yang (active, hot and heavy).
Consequently, they categorized all foodstuffs as 'yin' and 'yang', or combinations of them both. They believe that the ideal diet is one that can help balance these two forces in the body.
According to Mr. Ohsawa's yin and yang guidelines for the Zen Macrobiotic diet:
o Cereals must always be every meal's basis. The most ideal is whole, brown rice.
o Vegetables can supplement cereals, but in lesser quantities and less frequently. Eggplant and tomatoes must be avoided, as they are extremely yin.
o Fresh fish can be used occasionally. Animal and dairy products and fruits are to be used in minute amounts.
o All fluids should be taken as infrequently as possible, since they are very yin, especially tea, coffee, colas and sweetened juices. Tea made from fresh herbs, and spring water are thought to be the most balanced and acceptable beverages. Mr. Ohsawa gave a special recipe for such a tea.
Ohsawa himself defined macrobiotics as a dietetic medicine-philosophy, while his successors simply call it "a sensible way of eating". Actually, then, there is no macrobiotic diet per se, just general principles.
General principles of the Zen Macrobiotic diet
Diets based on cereal grains with minority proportions of vegetables, legumes, and seaweeds are considered ideal.
The Zen Macrobiotic diet is predominantly, but not absolutely, vegetarian.
The Zen Macrobiotic diet makes general dietary recommendations, particularly that 40 to 60 percent of caloric intake should come from whole grains, including rice, millet, barley, wheat, oats, rye, corn and buckwheat.
Additionally to the type of food eaten, the Zen Macrobiotic Diet advises:
o Do not eat processed, sugared, dyed, canned, bottled, or other adulterated food.
o Eat no foods produced have been treated with pesticides, chemical fertilizers or preservatives.
o Eat no foods imported from a long distance.
o Eat no vegetables or fruits out of season.
o Refrain from eating extreme yin vegetables, such as potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant.
o Use no spices, chemical seasonings or processed table salt.
o Drink no coffee or black tea.
o Refrain from flesh and dairy foods except for occasional fish and game birds.
o No refined flour products, yeasted foods or foods containing baking soda.
o Chew one's food thoroughly (at least 30 times – preferably more).
o Cook all food with a gas fire. Electricity is said to create chaotic energy patterns, and microwaves.
The Zen Macrobiotic Diet's 5 guiding principles for healthy living are:
1. Foods are the foundation of health and happiness.
2. Sodium and potassium (as in salt) are the primary antagonistic and complementary elements in food. They most strongly determine its character-or "yin / yang" quality of each food.
3. Grain is proper and nature staple food of man.
4. Food should be unrefined, whole, and natural.
5. Food should be grown locally and eaten in season.
The Zen Macrobiotic diet has millions of devotes throughout the world due to its healthiness and the feeling of well being that followers of the diet enjoy.