178, 2018 January)
of the macrobiotic diet date back centuries to Far Eastern philosophy.
It is a combination of nutrition and lifestyle. Food
is not only believed to provide nourishment for the
body but also engenders health and happiness.
such as Japanese physicians Sagen Ishizuka and George
Ohsawa (1893-1966) taught the theory of nutrition
and formed a macrobiotic association.
In 1959, Ohsawa
came to the United States from Japan, and in 1960
established the George Ohsawa Macrobiotic
Foundation in Oroville, California.
prominent names in the field of macrobiotics are Michio and
Aveline Kushi, founders of the Kushi Institute of the
Berkshires in Becket, MA, now located in
and the International Macrobiotic Shiatsu Society in Eureka,
There are six
affiliated institutes in Europe, and instruction courses
costing up to $8,250 are promoted.
philosophical, part dietary regime. Proponents recommend low-fat,
low-protein, high-complex carbohydrate, and high-fibre diets.
prominently, as do vegetables and fish. Only "natural" foods are
recommended, and only those locally and organically grown and in
and eating of specific types of food and diets appealing to
the psychology of asceticism in which abstinence equates
with "spiritual growth".
macrobiotics comes from the Greek words macro meaning "long,
large or great" and bios meaning "life". However, the
originator of the Macrobiotic Diet,
died in his early sixties — hardly a testimonial to
a quasi-religious movement and health centred life-style
and has become big business, not only selling the
philosophy but cookbooks, audio/video tapes, kitchenware and
The original Zen
macrobiotic diet involved ten levels ranging from the
"minus-3 diet" with the greatest variety to the Plus-7 diet
consisting of 100% brown rice and
Many deaths from
starvation have been reported trying to adhere to
the more austere diets, together with the occurrence of rickets
and scurvy. The claim that
diets are a cure for cancer is totally unfounded and in fact dieting
is just the opposite of what cancer patients undergoing
radiation or chemotherapy need. Other dangers
associated with macrobiotic diets include, iron and vitamin B12
deficiencies, rickets, retarded growth and below normal
stature among children.
In 1966, the
Passaic (New Jersey) Grand Jury reviewed three cases of death
and two cases of near-death from malnutrition among
Zen macrobiotic adherents and concluded that the
diet "constitutes a public health hazard".
macrobiotic diets are more loosely defined.Some versions are
suitable in certain circumstances, others are deficient.
correctly balanced intake of nutrients is essential for good health, it
is not the sole criterion for longevity. Hereditary and environment
also play a part.
Society. 1984. Unproven Methods of
Cancer Management, "Macrobiotic Diets," Ca-Cancer J Clinic, 34:60-63.
(No date) Macrobiotics: Standard
Dietary and Way of Life Suggestions, Beckett, Massachusetts.
1982. The Macrobiotic Approach to
Cancer: Towards Preventing and Controlling Cancer with Diet and
Lifestyle. Avery Publishing Group Inc., New Jersey.
New Jersey State
Health Dept. 1966. Zen Macrobiotic Diet hazardous: presentment of
Passaic County Grand Jury. Public
Health News, June, pp.132-5.
(No date) Essential Macrobiotics,
George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation, Oroville, California.
H. 1999 Alternative,
Complementary, Holistic &
Spiritual Healing, Australian Skeptics