Macrobiotic Diet

Miso Soup

Key Points

  • Emphasis on organic whole grains and vegetables
  • Eliminates some fruits and vegetables that may cause nutritional deficiencies, NCI does not recommended for cancer patients unless under doctor supervision
  • Numerous lifestyle changes accompany the diet to promote balance in life, and a more restful sleep

The macrobiotic diet is based on the idea of balancing yin and yang, consisting of 10 plans which are progressed through to reach an ideal yin/yang ratio of 5:1.

According to the Kushi Institute:

"Research has linked modern diet and lifestyle habits to virtually all the debilitating chronic degenerative diseases, as well as lesser health issues generally attributed to aging. Without knowing which dietary and lifestyle changes can bring the health transformation people are looking for, is it any wonder there is a health crisis in the world today?"

Unlike most other diets, the Macrobiotic Diet extends beyond the foods themselves, and recommends changes in how the food is cooked (gas range instead of an electric range), and utensils used.  It's not only a dietary program, but a program that addresses environment as well as activities and attitude.  Even if you don't plan to follow this diet, it's worth looking at some of these other lifestyle components to bring more balance to our over-stimulated modern lives.

Bear in mind, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) does NOT recommend this diet for cancer patients, stating that there is "no scientific evidence for the use of a macrobiotic diet in cancer treatment", and the possibility of nutritional deficiency during treatment. 

If you find this diet appealing, and something you want to try, then you'll need to work with your doctor, or nutritionist (or research yourself) to be sure you are compensating for the eliminated foods.

The Macrobiotic Diet

Interestingly, the food recommendations are based on living in a temperate climate.   You should consult directly with the Kushi Institute if you live somewhere that this wouldn't apply. 

  • 40-60% Organically Grown Whole Grains
  • 20-30% Vegetables (excluding some vegetables, more on this later)
  • 5-10% Beans and Sea Vegetables
  • Soups (made with vegetables, sea vegetables, grains, or beans, seasoned with miso, tamari, shoyu, or sea salt.)
  • Beverages include tea and water without ice
  • Use only vegetable quality cooking oil, preferably unrefined sesame or corn oil 
  • Use sea salt or soy sauce

Foods to be eaten sparingly:

  • Fish - primarily white fish
  • Local Fruits - again, eat infrequently 2-3 times per week, and no fruit juice
  • Lightly Roasted Nuts
  • Vegetables not recommended for regular use include: potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, spinach, beets, and zucchini

Foods to Avoid

  • Meat, animal fat, eggs, poultry, and dairy 
  • Refined sugar, chocolate, vanilla, molasses, and honey
  • Tropical Fruit and fruit juices
  • Soda
  • Coffee, flavored teas, stimulating teas such as peppermint
  • Artificially colored, preserved, sprayed, or chemically treated foods
  • Refined grains and flours
  • Mass-produced industrialized food including canned, frozen, and irradiated foods
  • Hot spices
  • Alcohol

The Macrobiotic Lifestyle

This part is quite interesting.  While some of it sounds extreme, I think anyone dealing with the complexity of navigating a cancer diagnosis, treatment and keeping up with our jobs, family and other commitments, perhaps some of these more 'yin' lifestyle changes may bring balance to our excessively 'yang' modern lives.  Here is the recommended lifestyle that accompanies the Macrobiotic Diet:

  • Eat only when hungry
  • Thorough chewing (50 times or more per mouthful) to aid digestion and absorb nutrients
  • Sit with a good posture when you eat
  • Take a moment to express gratitude for the food
  • t is best to leave the table satisfied but not full
  • Drink liquids moderately, only when thirsty
  • For the deepest and most restful sleep, avoid eating at least 2 to 3 hours before sleeping
  • Avoid long hot baths or showers which deplete the body of minerals
  • Use cosmetics and cleaning products that are made from natural, non-toxic ingredients
  • Wear cotton clothing, especially for undergarments. Avoid wearing synthetic or woolen clothing directly on the skin. Avoid wearing excessive accessories.
  • Spend time outdoors if strength permits. Walk on the grass, beach, or soil for at least one half hour every day. Spend some time in direct sunlight daily.
  • Exercise regularly. Activities may include walking, yoga, martial arts, dance, etc.
  • Include some large green plants in the home to freshen and enrich the oxygen content of the air. Open windows daily to permit fresh air to circulate, even in cold weather.
  • Keep your home in good order, especially the areas where food is prepared and served.
  • To increase circulation and elimination of toxins, scrub the entire body with a hot, damp towel every morning or every night. If that is not possible, at least scrub the hands, feet, fingers and toes.
  • Avoid using electric cooking devices (ovens and ranges) or microwave ovens. The use of a gas or wood stove is preferred.
  • Use earthenware, cast iron, or stainless steel cookware rather than aluminum or Teflon-coated pots.
  • Minimize the frequent use of television and computers. When using a computer, protect yourself from potentially harmful electromagnetic fields with a protective shield over the screen or other safety devices.
  • Sing a happy song!

Again, these recommendations are from the Kushi Institute - to learn more, I'd recommend consulting with them directly.



Learn more about the Macrobiotic Diet at the Kushi Institute.