I just came across the macrobiotic diet.
... is a dietary regimen that involves eating grains as a staple food supplemented with other foodstuffs such as vegetables and beans, and avoiding the use of highly processed or refined foods.
Besides the avoidance of processed and refined foods, it seems to be rather opposite of the Paleo diet. Nonetheless, some people swear by it. Has anyone here had first hand experience with the macrobiotic diet? Can this be a healthful diet?
I was on the macrobiotic diet for several years. It seems to help some people a lot, but in my case, it made my various health problems worse over time, although there was some improvement at first.
Macro does eliminate things like trans-fats, processed foods, sugar, etc. Although it might be considered "grain based," it's not grain in the Western sense; it's mostly brown rice, with a few others like quinoa or millet thrown in for variety, but it doesn't allow corn or wheat. Lots of seaweeds for B-12 and minerals; beans to complete the essential amino acids; lots of dark green veggies; some squashes; no nightshades; very limited nuts and seeds. It's also low fat; no eggs or dairy.
Another feature of Macro is lots and lots of chewing. You are supposed to chew your food until it is totally liquid, which makes it easier for nutrients to be well-absorbed. Chewing also causes insulin to be released, though.
The bottom line is that they do some things right (which explains the positive benefits that some people have), but get derailed by the low-fat and no animal product concepts.
One of my coworkers is a former macrobiotic adherent. She said it was a great way to become more health conscious, but she continued to have health problems andin the end she felt much better when she switched to a low-carb WAPF (Weston A. Price Foundation) diet. It's interesting because certain institutions used to be hard core macrobiotic, like NYC's Natural Gourmet. Now they are cooking up grassfed meat and even using the dreaded nightshades. Seems like people realized that eating a pile of brown rice is boring and not as nourishing as some might suppose.
On the other hand I very much like NYC's premier macrobiotic restaurant, Souen. I can easily order a paleo meal there if I stick with the fish and seaweed dishes. I love the emphasis on seaweed, but I also notice they use tons of garbage oils. The menu for their desserts brags that they only use safflower oil in them...ugh.
I think it's pretty clear that a diet based almost exclusively on grains is going to be anything but healthy, but I don't think there's anything of a paradox in the beneficial results people report from going macrobiotic/vegan/raw vegetarian/juice diet etc. The value of a diet is always relative to some other diet and no doubt eating something at least vaguely akin to food, such as raw oats and piles and piles of cabbage, is going to be preferable to the SAD of pure sugar and vegetable oil. This is no doubt why people think that 'more fruit, vegetables and healthy whole grains' is the be all and end all to health, eating some actual nutrients must be a big improvement over processed starch, spread with omega 6, with fructose and omega 6 for afters. Hence the limited 'successes' of Britain's own hideous macrobiotician, Gillian McKeith (who has a whole industry based around snatching people's sweets and giving them flax seeds instead).
The other thing to remember is that any-one health-engaged enough to be looking at 'macrobiotic' will likely be doing a tonne of other things focused on their health (a la Ornish's veritable lifestyle makeover). It's no surprise that people who are fanatically dedicated to [any diet at all] do better than some-one mindlessly eating the SAD.
I did quite well on it for a number of years, I believe now that it was due to the vast reduction in wheat consumed, and the addition of fermented foods. Eventually, I could no longer remain healthy on a vegetarian diet. It is way much better than SAD.
I dormed with a kid that had been vegan macrobiotic for... Forever. He ate basically onions, squash, and broccoli fried in olive oil over brown rice or quinoa. Every single day. Ridiculously tall, but bone thin and completely emaciated. Slept for 12-14 hours every night, and could never seem to keep up with his coursework. Also, the toilet was a right mess. Didn't help that he would never clean it, but I wouldn't be surprised if he'd ever had a solid stool the entire 4 months. I met his Mum as well, she wasn't much better. Emaciated like he was, and her face was very aged for someone barely 40. She was also covered in peach fuzz as well, which I've read is a sign of deficiency of... Something or another.
I have attended Macrobiotic conferences and have met the top people in the field. They are healthy, robust, at any age. Plant based advocates such as Drs. Esselstyn, McDoughal, Ornish, Barnard are all lean and attractive. Low carb Gurus such as Atkins, Sears, etc. are all fat. Almost all of them.
I was born in utero Macrobiotic and then when I went to school I discovered a cookie, and chips and then went off of eating how I was raised. Since I have come back to Macrobiotics and was raised this way, i am undoubtedly healthy than everyone who is not this way. I have never been immunized and never had any serious illness. My daughter is also being raised Macrobiotic. She also is not immunized. She has gone to preschool and daycare and while all the other children are out sick with the flu, and measles, lice, etc. etc. she has not contracted a single one. Neither have I. It is disturbing to hear anyone talk badly about Macrobiotics because 100% of the individuals have no knowledge or wisdom in how this diet works. It is not a one size fits all, avoid certain foods etc. If you are going to take your health in your own hands be informed. Also I was on a mainstream Western diet for while, in which I ended up being on high risk for cervical cancer. It is only when I switched To Macrobiotics that I easily cured myself of all ailments. Not only are there health benefits, you look amazing and have higher level awareness..and can achieve true enlightenment. I go off Science, because science can be proven. Don't go off philosophies and ideologies, base your life off science. The doctors can tell you that something is wrong, but Macrobiotics explains WHY. I have attracted most everything I want in my life, and the times when I do not is when I am not living Macrobiotically. There is a difference of living from a guideline rather than being a strict psycho on a diet. Be realistic. Inform yourself, and don't take your health in your own hands..speak to people who have actually LIVED this way. My father cured himself of cancer, my step mom from anemia, etc. etc.do I know people and all from Macrobiotics. :D
If by healthy, you mean "I gained twenty pounds and developed thyroid disease," then... Sorry to be snarky. That was the WORST food experiment I ever tried. It's taken me a decade to recover my health from the 2 years I was trying to eat healthfully as a macro.
Of course, all this is just my unscientific n=1.
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