MACROBIOTICS, AND MODIFICATIONS FOR NUTRITIONAL BALANCING SCIENCE
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© May 2013, The Center For Development
This article introduces macrobiotics and some modifications to the macrobiotic diet that I suggest. Macrobiotics is an updated version of an ancient Japanese science of life based on the ancient principles of yin and yang. It focuses heavily on the role of food and diet for balance, health and longevity. The science also uses some herbs and other traditional Japanese food items.
Macrobiotics is taught in the United States by Mr. Michio Kushi and those he has trained. It is a fascinating science and I wish to give Michio Kushi and others much credit for their wonderful work. I studied with Mr. Kushi in the early 1970s in Boston and Brookline, Massachusetts, USA.
Nutritional balancing science, as Dr. Paul Eck offered it, did not include any principles from macrobiotics. However, I find the macrobiotics method for classifying foods to be most helpful for healing. Therefore, I have incorporated this knowledge into nutritional balancing science. I believe this enhances the diet and the results quite a lot.
Different from traditional Chinese medicine. While both are Oriental methods of dietary assessment, Macrobiotics uses different criteria to assess the yin and yang qualities of foods than does traditional Chinese medicine. Many people accuse me of making errors about the yin and yang qualities of food, but this is because I use the macrobiotic classification rather than the traditional Chinese medicine classification.
Modifying the standard macrobiotic diet. Insights from hair analysis research have required some changes in the diet that are humbly recommended in this article. For this reason, please understand that I do not recommend the standard macrobiotic diet, which is based upon eating a lot of whole rice or whole grains. Here are the changes I suggest to the macrobiotic diet:
1. Everyone needs many more cooked vegetables. I suggest 9 cups of cooked vegetables daily, or about 3 cups per meal of the cooked, not raw vegetables. This means that cooked vegetables will be about 70-80% of the daily diet. This is a significant departure from the macrobiotic diet. People seem to need this much for the fiber, phytonutrient, and especially the alkaline reserve mineral content of the cooked vegetables. I realize it makes the diet much more yin, but it seems necessary, at least for a while when someone begins a program.
Also, not all of the vegetables are good. For the details about the diet, please read The Slow Oxidizer Diet on this site.
2. Most everyone needs more omega-3 fatty acids. The rise of processed vegetable oils in many foods, along with the feeding of livestock on grain instead of grasses, their native food, has led to a deficiency of the omega-3 fatty acids in almost everyone today. Therefore, I recommend adding omega-3 fatty acids to all nutrition programs. Good food sources for these include raw, certified dairy products, some grass-fed meat and poultry and eggs, and fish such as sardines, but not salmon or tuna as these are too high in mercury. The meat, eggs and dairy usually do not supply enough. I recommend 3-4 cans of sardines weekly to get enough omega-3 fatty acids, or one should take a supplement of about 900-1000 mg daily of fish oil, preferably. For more on this, read Sardines on this site.
3. Some raw or organic dairy products are helpful for most people. Macrobiotics does not recommend dairy products at all. This is an ancient Japanese food pattern that may not apply as much to people of the Caucasian race. I find that a small amount of pure, raw dairy products or organic dairy products are excellent sources of calcium, magnesium, vitamins such as A and D, and many other nutrients. They should not be eaten in excess, but a glass of raw milk (4 ounces or so) or some raw cheese or raw yogurt can be an excellent addition to most people’s diets. This may apply less to Oriental people, however. For more on this subject, read Dairy Products on this website.
4. Avoid vegetarian diets. Many macrobiotic practitioners and their followers suggest vegetarian diets. I do not agree, finding that most people are too yin and they need the meat in their diets. I find that ALL vegetarian regimens cause serious difficulties that are subtle and hard to detect. They include low zinc levels, high copper levels, protein imbalances and others. Vegetarian diets, especially vegan diets, tend to shorten one’s lifespan and cause severe illnesses, particularly brain problems in children such as ADD. For more, read Vegetarian Diets on this site.
5. Difficulty digesting grains. Macrobiotics suggests that whole, unrefined cereal grains should be the main focus of the diet. I find this does not work well today for most people. This may be due to intestinal candida albicans or other intestinal infections, or perhaps for other reasons such as gluten sensitivity. Whatever the reason, I find it necessary to restrict grains in most everyone.
6. Avoid all wheat and spelt. Wheat, in particular, we find to be a poor quality food today, even organic whole wheat. It has been severely hybridized or genetically modified. The protein content is lower, the starch content is higher and the zinc content much lower. Other trace element levels are lower as well. As a result, wheat in any form, especially refined wheat but also whole wheat products, are less healthful today and best avoided completely. It is now an inflammatory food for many people that causes a myriad of subtle inflammatory reactions in the and does not nourish the body as well. Spelt is very close to wheat and best avoided.
Some people must also avoid all gluten-containing grains for a while such as oats, barley and rye. As the intestines heal with a nutritional balancing program, often gluten is tolerated again.
7. Whole rice is a good food, but blue corn chips are better. While whole grain rice and even white basmati rice are decent foods, they are low in certain minerals that people need such as selenium. I therefore prefer blue corn, in particular, as a “staple grain food”. This is a complex subject. For more, please read Blue Corn on this site.
8. Legumes and other protein quality issues. Macrobiotics recommends the heavy use of legumes or dried beans in the diet. I do not find this to be the case, today. The quality of the protein is not good enough in the legumes, even combined with grains. Instead, I recommend more meats such as lamb and chicken, sardines, and eggs and fewer beans.
9. Most sea vegetables today are quite high in mercury and perhaps other toxic metals. An important part of the Japanese diet are the very mineral-rich sea vegetables such as wakame, hijiki, nori and others. However, today all products from the sea contain some mercury and other toxic metals. Therefore, I limit the use of sea vegetables, sadly, and prefer kelp or kombu which appears to be higher in alginates and other chemicals that help bind up and remove the toxic metals that are contained in all sea vegetables.
10. Fish and sea food are all contaminated today. Fish is an important food in macrobiotics, and in all Oriental cuisine. It is a very nutritious food. However, today’s fish is more and more contaminated with mercury, in particular, usually from the use of coal-burning power plants without scrubbers to catch the toxic metals the plants emit.
As a result, I sadly have to limit fish because anyone who eats any quantity of fish, even wild caught, begins to show high levels of mercury on hair mineral analyses. The only exception is 3-4 cans of sardines weekly. Sardines are so small they do not have time to accumulate much mercury, although they contain some. Do not eat more than 3-4 cans per week for an adult, however.
Macrobiotics may also allow seafood such as shrimp, oysters, lobster, clams, scallops, crab and eel. These foods are even more contaminated with toxic metals today because they usually come from coastal waters. They may also be slightly toxic for other reasons. As a result, I do not recommend any of them at any time, no matter where they come from.
11. Oriental diagnosis not as accurate today because everyone is so ill. Mr. Kushi teaches Oriental face, pulse and tongue diagnosis to assess yin and yang qualities. However, using hair mineral testing to assess yin and yang I find that almost everyone is yin (in slow oxidation, basically). The people today are so deficient and toxic that the older Oriental diagnostic methods may not be as accurate.
For example, most everyone today has been exposed to ionizing radiation, many toxic metals and hundreds of toxic chemicals. They are born this way. Most of these toxins are very yin.
13. Oriental herbs
12. The role of women. Macrobiotics suggests that women are more fit than men to prepare food due to the women’s more sensitive nature and for other reasons. However, today I find that in America, particularly, the role and the body chemistry of the women is changing fast and the differences between men and women are fading fast.
In fact, many younger women are very out of touch with their feminine nature, and their minds and bodies are weak and toxic. As a result, some of the ancient wisdom about women versus men may no longer apply today.
13. The problem of food preparation. Preparing food according to macrobiotic principles takes a lot of time. This is not practical for many people, and it may not be necessary. I suggest using an electric food steamer, a rice cooker, a pressure cooker and other simple methods of cooking, instead. I do not believe the long cooking times are needed, especially if one does not eat a lot of beans.
14. Synthesized food supplements versus traditional herbal remedies. Macrobiotics uses some traditional Oriental herbs as medicines, and shuns the modern, synthetic vitamins and minerals. I agree that they are much more yin, in some cases.
Dr. Paul Eck and others found, however, that the herbs are not as pure today, no matter how they are grown. Most contain some toxic metals, which is not helpful. Also, they cannot balance the body chemistry as well as the judicious use of a few modern mineral chelates and other supplements. This was difficult for me to accept, but experience has shown it to be true.
Nutritional balancing, at this time, at least, requires certain synthetic food supplements, at times. This is a large area. A separate article entitled Why Use Food Supplements discusses all the reasons why I find that modern food supplements are not only helpful but absolutely necessary for most people today.
15. The need for more drinking water. I learned in macrobiotics not to drink too much water, since water is very yin. However, this is not good advice today, in my view. It will slow one’s progress drastically, in some cases, and can lead to kidney stones and other problems. It is true that water is very yin, and it is correct not to drink with meals so as not to dilute the stomach acid and digestive juices. However, reasons we find that adults need to drink about 3 quarts of spring water daily include:
Š The level of toxins in the bodies today is enormous, and a nutritional balancing program removes them quickly. Enough water helps them move through the kidneys easily.
Š Grains break down in the body to water, in part. However, I do not recommend the large amount of grains that many macrobiotic practitioners would recommend. Therefore, water intake must be higher.
Š Eating more meat adds some toxins that may require more drinking water.
I do not recall if macrobiotics recommends a particular type of drinking water. However, we find that reverse osmosis water does not hydrate the body well enough in most cases, and that tap water is often contaminated with chemicals that cannot be filtered out too easily with carbon filters.
16. Other healing modalities in nutritional balancing. Nutritional balancing incorporates a number of other methods of healing such as the use of carrot juice, foot reflexology, coffee enemas for colon cleansing, the use of a near infrared lamp sauna, the Roy Masters meditation exercise, and Cantron or Protocel for cancer cases. These are not part of macrobiotics, to my knowledge. However, I find them excellent for most people today. Without them, I find many people simply will not get fully well.
Macrobiotics makes extensive use of the ancient concepts of yin and yang. In fact, it is the science of yin and yang, as applied to food, herbs and much more. For more on this fascinating topic that is also paramount in nutritional balancing science, please read Yin And Yang Healing.