The Macrobiotic Approach: A Sound Mind, A Sound Body, Centered in A Sound Diet By François Roland
The idea, or philosophy, is as old as civilization itself. The idea is that our diet will influence how we feel,- our health, our well-being. Modern symptom-conscious society, however, has gotten away from that idea and the common belief is that if there are no symptoms manifested, there is no sickness. But people are moving back to those beliefs as the macrobiotic dietary approach is becoming more prevalent. People are now much more interested in natural holistic approaches.
Macrobiotics can be described as being “the search for longevity, health, and happiness”. Modern macrobiotics originated in Japan in the early 1900s, and teachers like Michio Kushi and Herman Aihara have introduced the approach in the United States starting in the 1960s. In particular, through his lectures, interviews and publications, educator Michio Kushi revised and improved on the dietary guidelines, adapting them to the needs of modern society.
Essentially, the teachings of Macrobiotics demonstrate how to live our life in harmony with nature and its order. A macrobiotic lifestyle is a life based on a harmonious relation between people and the natural environment, starting with proper diet, respect for all people and living things, and sharing the common dream of all healthy people: world peace.
Ideas, thinking, and attitudes are important, but diet is key to establishing healthy blood, which irrigates the brain and end up influencing the formation of ideas and aspirations as well as behavior, and many other other aspects of the human condition. Food is more than just fuel for our daily life. It’s our connection with the natural environment, something we have to study and understand, and if we are to find true health, our diet should reflect this understanding.
Although a macrobiotic diet does not really exclude any foods from its repertoire, the human body, which reflects the entire span of biological evolution, is particularly well suited for such plant foods as whole grains and vegetables. Throughout history, humans have kept a few staples as part of their diet – whole cereal grains, fresh vegetables, beans, in some cases sea vegetables, fish, fruits, nuts, seeds, fermented foods, etc. The macrobiotic diet focuses on these staple items, and recommends the daily use of traditionl seasonings such as miso and shoyu, (fermented foods made of soybeans, barley or other grains). Depending on climate, geographical conditions, activities, and individual needs, animal food can be consumed along with these staple foods. In general the smaller and wilder the animal, the better. Water species are easier to assimilate and offer more health benefits.
Ideally, we should consume locally or regionally grown foods. However, many of the foods recommended in macrobiotics are traditionally processed food originating from Japan, a place where natural food harvesting and production were elevated to an art for centuries. Similar techniques have been learned and adapted to the West, but it will take many more years to catch up with Japanese craftsmen in this particular field of work. This is one of the reasons we still rely on imported foods from Japan. These Japanese natural foods have been known for their health benefits. There are, for instance, documented health benefits of miso. Miso strengthens blood formation, helps eliminate unwanted fats and neutralize toxins, boosts plant protein use and can also eliminate the harmful effects of environmental pollutants. By learning the benefits of naturally processed, traditional foods such as miso, shiitake mushrooms, umeboshi plums and others, and using these foods in daily cooking can help us become healthy. As soon as a person starts implementing macrobiotic dietary guidelines, things start to get better. Many symptoms are alleviated simply by eating along these lines.
Health is each person’s responsibility and it constitutes more than simply not having a disease. Eating a macrobiotic diet is a practical way to take responsibility for our life and the environment. In this society, we have a very limited view of what it means to be healthy. We are happy with the fact that we do not show symptoms. The macrobiotic perspective is that sickness is a progression, and that before symptoms arise, you are already ill. Essentially, you can be sick before even showing any symptoms. Simply because you’re not leading a healthy lifestyle, you may be preparing yourself for future illness. If you don’t change your way of life, your condition will progress to what we call a disease. The reverse, research has shown, is also true. If you are sick — diabetes, arthritis, allergies, including cancer, heart disease, etc. — following the proper diet can heal and, in many instances, actually reverse that illness. Often people think of macrobiotics as a healing method. There are many books written about how the diet and lifestyle have reversed the effects of cancer and other degenerative disorders. But macrobiotics is much more than a healing diet. It is a way of thinking, a way of living, a way of cooking and eating, a way of seeing and understanding sickness, in people as well as and in the world. It can be a way of self-realization, of creating health and peace, of reversing the world’s degenerative trends.
The teachings of Macrobiotics help us rediscover what health and happiness really are. It means taking a larger view. It’s a transformation. You transform your way of looking at things, and it starts with your diet and your way of life.
Source: Cleveland Sun Press, December 1992