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Many people have the idea that macrobiotics is mainly concerned with brown rice and is little else than boring. This image arises from the historical construct that has produced the fundamental and time-tested diet of rural Japan. Brown rice is certainly the core of the diet, and must remain so as far as this generation is concerned because of the time that has already been invested in validation. This is not to blindly assert that it is necessarily the optimal diet â€“ perhaps it is and perhaps it is not - but the further one strays from the validated format the greater the likelihood of entering into error. For instance, macrobiotics cautions against eating members of the Nightshade group which as a whole are defined as exceedingly "expansive" food-items (yin). The Nightshades include Tomatoes, Potatoes and Egg-plant as well as Datura, Petunias and others. This relationship can be examined further. For instance, ripe tomatoes have many positive attributes (vitamin C and enzymes that seem to be pro-active cancer fighters) however, green potatoes (as well as tomatoes) contain distinctly unhelpful alkaloids. From this we can detect a trend in the value of these vegetables as an appropriate component of a regular diet. As part of an anti-cancer diet, ripe tomatoes may have distinct merit whereas green tomatoes may well be harmful. Green potatoes are similarly toxic and although normal (not-green) potatoes may not be particularly harmful for someone that does not have cancer they may still maybe not so good for someone that does. It may well to be wary of the oft-quoted assertion that "macrobiotics is not nutritionally balanced or not really complete" particularly because it comes from the high-tech dairy and meat interests. George Osawa, the father of macrobiotics in the West said "eat what you like â€“ macrobiotics does not forbid anything". Granted Osawa proposed a series of extremely fundamental brown-rice cleansing diets and these may well be useful for acetic meditation or for cleansing toxins from people, at least for limited periods of time. Osawa was himself said to have survived the Japanese military prison-system during the Second World War, by living almost entirely on plain boiled brown rice which the guards allowed his wife to bring into the prison since they regarded such food as insufficient. Accordingly, they permitted brown rice since it was intended that Osawa waste away and die.
The macrobiotic diet constitutes the core of the approach that we used to heal Hidehâ€™s cancer and are continuing the regime. The diet may be summarised as 55% (or more) whole (at least starting as whole) grains per day, minimizing (but not eliminating) nightshades, miso soup with sea vegetables at least once a day, no overloading of either vegetable or fish protein â€“ that is not much more that 1/10th (occasionally) 1/4 of the whole intake by bulk per day. That is the basis, at least as taught by the Macrobiotic Institute of Switzerland. But they have a great deal more to offer including that all macrobiotic meals consist of elements representing the five flavors, all colors must be represented brown, green, yellow, red â€¦ a balance must be obtained among roots, stems, leaves and above ground/below ground elements. No forced drinking of water â€“ you really do not need it once you get off of high-density protein, spring water (life-force) rather than distilled water (dead) but better than domestic piped municipal water etc. Elegant fruit deserts are a significant part of the meal even though Osawa frowned on fruit as a major component of the fundamental diet. I agree totally with the idea that "diversity" of food-types is consonant with the early hunter-gatherer meal-pattern, that this must be a conservative form of eating. Accordingly we tried to emulate that by maintaining a variety of foods in each meal and by varying meal to meal.
Last but not least I was previously a "dumb" vegetarian-fishatarian. I feel great now, no indigestion whatsoever, and I eat a 4-grain fresh ground porridge every morning. I think, for myself, that macrobiotics (as now practiced ) is a fundamental basis on which to plan a personal survival strategy. When we went to Paris recently we hunted up all the macrobiotic restaurants to eat there, to see what they were like and how they managed their menus. Besides this, as soon as I started to follow the diet seriously I remembered that it was the way I used to eat in other lives.
However, one thing that confused me when I first started to review dietary approaches to dealing with cancer, was the apparent diversity in the various recommended formats. I now have it down to 2 categories, which appear to be of some use, and both are heavily vegetarian in nature: 1) the Gerson heavy-juice intake approach . This is very Ying - and appropriate for contending with cancer caused by very Yang diets (heavy on meat and dairy, potatoes, heavy processed and also refined grain products); 2) the macrobiotic, traditional approach originally from Japan, (allows a little fish at choice). This is built around an intake of 55% (or so) whole grains (wheat, corn, rye, millet, barley) plus three other grain-like seeds Buckwheat, Amaranth and Quinola. Macrobiotics restricts, or perhaps does not emphasize fruit but points to balance among plantparts, flavors, colors etc. There is a third path, which integrates the above two approaches, and this is the one taken by Ian Gawler (You can conquer cancer (prevention and management): Hill of Content, Melbourne (pub) 1984).
For ourselves, we actually used the "modern" macrobiotic approach modified somewhat in the direction taken by Gerson and Gawler. Gerson because of the idea of "compressed life-force" in fresh juice (taken from in-season fruit and vegetables in our immediate surrounds), Gawler because he cured himself by a "sensible" balanced vegetarian diet coupled with meditation. In addition we obtained sound advice from a naturalist-nutritionist we approached.
We attended a macrobiotic dinner tonight (17-05-99)in Auckland, catered by Master Chef Mr Bevin Kaan, with the following menu: Miso soup â€“ French green lentils with fried kale (Contains the major protein-portion of the meal) Rice with Amaranth (Amaranth is known as a "super-grain", it was almost wiped out but was rescued from Bolivia where it previously formed the staple of the Incas. When the Incas lost their staple food, they died.) Carrot and Swede mousse Steamed Broccoli with Soya-Plum-Ginger Kuzu sauce. Arame (sea vegetable, full of essentials minerals and enhances the character of skin and hair) Modest salad of Lettuce, Sauerkraut and Beetroot with an Avocado-Lemon salad sauce (contains some protein). (Variety to add dynamic energy to the meal) Dessert: Tamarillo Black-currents and Apple parfait with an Almond Lemon tuille.
The meal was eaten under the spoken recognition that humankind is involved in a world war, a biological war that today threatens all food supplies. Many people follow a "vegetarian" life-style but eat too much protein such as that provided by beans thereby creating an imbalance. Protein should comprise no more than 10% of the meal. It was emphasized that the meal was "pushing the envelope" of macrobiotic practice and was part of an experiment aimed at developing an appropriate diet for a multi-cultural community such as that of New Zealand. It was also affirmed that the basic core of macrobiotic practice, centered around brown-rice, miso soup, sea vegetables, roots, stems and some leaves as well as traditional condiments, constituted the stable and time-tested basis of the diet in a form that strongly promoted healing and well-being. Nothing was missing in the meal. The bottom line is that we have the hard physical evidence to prove that the above diet works, at least in this case. I am perfectly willing to allow that there is probably a fairly wide envelope of food-intake that might cure cancer but, from a strictly ecological standpoint I think culturally-tested diets, such as the core macrobiotic approach, which also supports a population with low breast-cancer incidence in the user-group, has much to recommend it. To be honest, I just do not completely trust any clinical-rational approach, no matter how "scientific"
or logical it may seem because it just cannot have the conservative properties of something that has been trialed by many millions of people over tens of thousands of years. Earlier on I looked at the food-combinations theory closely. Somehow I cannot think that earlier peoples would have been anything like so specific, if they were depending on foodstufs as they encountered them or even if they gathered things before starting a "meal". The macrobiotic approach has one clear advantage over separating foods into different piles and eating according to some specific rationale, some things together and some apart, and I can attest to it personally â€“ it allows perfect digestion. The 55-60% whole grain input serves as a digestive buffer and this allows a person to easily eat and absorb almost anything else at the same time (at least in moderation and with the proportions in mind). The final point is the argument from "tooth-structure". People have, what is it? 2 incisors, 1 canine, 2 premolars and 3 molars on each side of each jaw. So 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars and 12 molars in total and in one mouth all at the same time. Logic insists these teeth were used all together, during each meal (by and large). So by function: incisors = leaves, canines = flesh-protein, premolars = roots and stems and maybe some grains, molars = grains only, we have a crude "functional expectation" in a diet of ï¿½ leaves, 1/8 flesh-protein, and either ï¿½ roots and stems plus 3/8 grain, or, possibly ï¿½ leaves, 1/8 flesh-protein ï¿½ roots and stems and ï¿½ grains. Fruit get to be an opportunistic add-on, they do not keep very well except if dried. Too much fruit, eaten alone causes an upset stomach. This takes me back to the macrobiotic diet where, by maintaining the 55% whole grain input I can eat anything without a single "burp". This is good "natural evidence " pointing to the notion that one does not have to eat things in separate chunks provided the macrobiotic tooth-ratio-balance is maintained in the input as a whole. Summary: The whole business of contending with cancer was a nightmare but I tried to keep a rational perspective in choosing one element as opposed to another. In investigating a cancer-fighting diet the first thing I did was to divide the available material into what I termed schools. Many writers simply copy material from one another or, adopt certain fixed and common attitudes signified by key phrases or examples. Then there are the people that mix everything up, they form another category that has a general aspect which leads to internal contradictions. The research indicating that macrobiotics is nutritionally deficient is indeed well known inside the macrobiotic community where that conclusion is regarded as a slander. I also know it is a point of dissention in general, people want to grasp at any straw to justify not giving up fats and to
avoid the discipline and apparent restrictions superficially offered by macrobiotics. Yet, still, no one can possibly understand the term "balance" until it has been achieved. Once a person finds this physical state the simplicity and clarity of a grain-based diet becomes an unfailing beacon that can light the way through life. The conservative character of the diet is, to my mind, a given since a whole people have survived and prospered on it for hundreds of years. A western scientist who eats dairy, meat and potatoes starts with certain preconceptions as to the nature of "prudent", necessary or appropriate nutrition. Live enzymes play a very big part in the diet and their effect certainly cannot be measured on a simplified scale such as represented by calorific value, itself simply a measure of crude heat released when the material is burned or oxidized. Adequate nutrition (by definition) is fundamental but attitude is also a big part of the equation as you also have to "want" the macrobiotic diet work since it otherwise has the potential to appear to be "boring" besides a fat-rich alternative and if this notion takes hold, not enough food will be eaten. Another complicating factor is that cancer cells are said by many to feed on the inputs arising from high fat and protein thus the diet keeps all protein, plant and fish, to a rather modest minimum. This minimum works only if one maintains the 50% input of whole grains. Nothing else will do. The only real tests available for "nutritional adequacy" are probably concentration camps and famines. The truth be known, the conclusions I reach here refer to the results of an act of desperation on my part - otherwise, I just ate what I encountered until I decided to become vegetarian 5 or 6 years ago. To be the vegetarian I was, in that sense is, I suppose a negative response to meat, to eating animals or mammals in particular. It was just a simple emotional response. By comparison macrobiotics is a huge logical and ecological/environmental construct, a living exercise in the practice of personal sustainable development with a strong sense of community participation. Interesting really, the powers of the universe bashed me over the head with it.
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