The Healing Power of Macrobiotics

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The macrobiotic lifestyle is not a new concept. In fact, the macrobiotic diet was established in Japanese monasteries hundreds of years ago to cure illness. It has evolved from a once restrictive, difficult-to-follow diet into a well-rounded holistic approach to health and well-being. “It’s about creating a harmony and balance through food that’s instilled in every aspect of your life,” says macrobiotic expert Denny Waxman.

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The History

The principles behind the macrobiotic lifestyle are often attributed to George Ohsawa, a Japanese man known as “the founder of macrobiotics.” During the early 1900s, Ohsawa adopted the philosophies set forth by holistic healer Sagen Ishizuka, in an effort to cure himself of an illness by following a diet of brown rice, miso soup and sea vegetables. His book Zen Macrobiotics brought macrobiotics to the masses and John Lennon and Yoko Ono helped it gain mainstream acceptance.

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Going Macro

Learning about macrobiotics is best done alongside those who are well-versed in it. The philosophy at the SHA Wellness Clinic in Alicante, Spain, is built upon macrobiotic principles, allowing you to become completely immersed in the ideology while reaping the health and wellness benefits. 

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The Philosophy

Macrobiotics extends into every aspect of life through diet and lifestyle. Borrowing principles from various food cultures, the modern macrobiotic diet is a healthy whole-food balanced diet void of unnecessary fats, salts, sugars and refined and processed carbohydrates. “There is an emphasis on whole grains, especially brown rice, vegetables, fruits, beans and seaweed,” says celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson. Lifestyle components are centered on a connection with nature. 

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Yin

The macrobiotic diet follows the laws of attraction and the balance of yin (expansion) and yang (contraction), and selecting foods that mirror this concept. “Yin and yang are always changing and natural food options change with the seasons,” says macrobiotic expert Gabriele Kushi. Yin foods are those that are cold, have less salt and grow above soil. They can also be sweet. 

Yang

Yang foods are spicy, salty and warm or hot and grow below soil. SHA Wellness Clinic’s macrobiotic expert Kenneth Prange adds, “When you excessively eat yang foods like meat, eggs and poultry, the cells contract and respond by craving expansive foods like sugar, alcohol and liquids.” 

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What You Can Eat

Whole grains: Brown rice is most popular but barley, buckwheat, oats and millet are used too. 

Beans: Adzuki beans, chickpeas and lentils serve as a source of protein. 

Vegetables: Kale, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, daikon radish, cabbage and squash are recommended. 

Soups: One to two cups of soup are typically had per day. Miso soup is most common.

Sea vegetables: These are rich in minerals that protect the body against chemicals in the air.

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What You Can Eat

Soy-based foods: Tofu and soy products balance female hormones.

Nuts: Sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts and almonds can be eaten occasionally. 

Fruits: Eat fresh, dried and cooked fruits like apples, cherries, berries, pears and melons.

Fish and seafood: Fresh halibut, cod, sole or flounder can be had a few times per week.

Fermented foods: Pickles, miso and sauerkraut help support the digestive system. 


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What You Can’t Eat

Sugar: Processed sugars, high fructose levels and artificial sweeteners can cause inflammation.

Coffee: Caffeine-rich coffee can negatively impact the nervous system and throw the body out of balance. 

Processed foods: These foods are not in their natural state and often contain many unhealthy additives and ingredients. 

Dairy: Eggs, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, margarine and even ghee are taboo since they can produce by-products that don’t benefit the body.

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What You Can’t Eat

Alcohol: Alcohol produces toxins in the body and can cause a tired, sluggish feeling.

Hot spices: Hot spices act as stimulants.

Highly processed soy products: Processed soy may have additives and chemicals that inhibit the body’s ability to absorb and process nutrients.

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The Anti-Aging Effect

Another component of a macrobiotic diet is its age-reversing potential. Prange explains, “A macrobiotic lifestyle slows down cellular aging by delivering micronutrients to all of the cells in the body. The skin glows, hair becomes strong and an exhausted body is energetic with endurance and stamina.”

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