Nutrition Diets

The macrobiotic diet: alimentary or lifestyle approach?

The macrobiotic diet: alimentary or lifestyle approach?

by in Nutrition - Diets

last updated: September 05, 2017

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More than a food based approach, the macrobiotic diet can be considered a real lifestyle.

More than a food based approach, the macrobiotic diet can be considered a real lifestyle.


It was first popularised by a Japanese doctor, Nyioti Sakurazawa, by observing and imitating the power of Buddhist monks developed the basics of
MB that embraces culture and eastern philosophy, pursuing the health consciousness through the equilibrium between the Yin and the Yang,
distinguishing therefore:

  • acidic foods - Yin foods such as milk and derivatives, fruits, tea, spices, and so on.
  • alkaline foods - Yang foods such as salt, meat, fish, chicken, eggs etc.

The basic concept is to research the balance between these sources by promoting the ingestion of certain "naturally balanced" foods such as cereals, legumes and oily seeds. Nutrition in this context gains fundamental importance in balance between body and mind (macrobiotic originates from Greek makros + bios and means great/long life).

What is to be avoided and what is to be taken

  • Avoid sophisticated/refined foods and prefer foods of natural origin;
  • Avoid sugar and sweets, as a substitute, use primarily cereal malt or rice syrup or wheat syrup;
  • Take fruits and vegetables as a source of simple fibres and sugars, while tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants are not recommended;
  • Prepare fish and meat products (up to 4 times a week) and the intake of legumes should be avoided on these days;
  • Do not overeat: milk and derivatives, spices, ground salt and coffee (replaceable with other drinks);
  • Crustaceans(shell fish) are forbidden;
  • Dry fruit is to be consumed occasionally and it is advisable to avoid nuts;
  • The consumption of sausages should be avoided;
  • Avoid eggs;
  • Whole bread is preferred;
  • Pizza can be occasionally consumed, unprocessed and with minimal quantities of tomato and mozzarella;
  • For raw seasonings, salt can be replaced by gomasio;
  • Wine vinegar must be avoided (replaceable with umeboshi);
  • Tea should be replaced with Japanese bancha tea or magical tea, whose caffeine content is very low (if not nil);
  • Avoid both, spirits(alcohol) and sugary drinks;
  • Do not have excess water consumption (which in the vast majority of dietary approaches is not recommended);

N.B.: The macrobiotic diet takes care of chewing in order to ensure digestive efficacy and tasting.

Characteristics of the macrobiotic diet

  • High intake of liquid or stews leads to a reduction in water requirements and encourages the absorption of cooked solids.
  • Protein percentage, mainly of vegetable origin (advice for those who are not experienced in vegetarian/vegan approaches etc., consult a professional who can advise on the best sources and matches).
  • Energy requirements are abundantly sustained by carbohydrates.
  • Complex glucose and simple glucose distribution is balanced in most cases.
  • Reduced lipid content and the ratio between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids is not optimal.
  • The habit of preferring fish to meat and high vegetable consumption favours the achievement of recommended levels of essential lipid intake of both omega 3 and omega 6.
  • Cooking utensils, used for cooking should be primarily stainless steel, enamelled or cast iron containers, while aluminium or copper containers are to be avoided.
  • Regarding the environment and the way in which meals are consumed, we aim for a quiet environment and relaxed attitude, with a focus on longer chewing.

Setting type as a percentage

  • 50%: whole grains, beans
  • From 20 to 30%: raw and cooked season vegetables
  • From 10 to 20%: white meat or fish or legumes as well as seitan, soy croquettes and so on.
  • 10%: fresh seasonal fruit or algae

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