What are Macrobiotics?

Macrobiotics was made famous by stars Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow, but has since developed into a popular food philosophy.

Whole grains, fresh fruit, vegetables and tofu are staples for many people following a healthy eating regime – and they form the core of a macrobiotic diet. So too is the increasingly popular shift towards the reduction of processed food, meat, dairy and white sugar.

Getting its roots loosely from Buddhism, a macrobiotic (“macro” meaning long and “bios” meaning life) diet promotes health and longevity through eating specific quantities of unprocessed foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. A limited consumption of fish is allowed, yet sugars and refined oils are not. There is also an emphasis on the consumption of Asian vegetables, such as daikon and seaweed.

According to Self Healing Australia (SHA), modern macrobiotics is about establishing and maintaining balance in all aspects of our lives by living in accordance with nature and the alignment of Yin and Yang. By eating an equal selection of both Yin and Yang foods it helps create balance within your body.

SHA characterises Yin foods as faster growing, which typically grow above the ground. They can cool the body, reduce tension and slow things down, but if eaten in excess can lead to a lack of motivation, anxiety and tiredness. Yin foods include asparagus, leafy greens and celery. They say “extreme” Yin foods, such as potatoes, eggplants and tomatoes, should be eaten in moderation.

Yang foods grow slower, generally below and across the ground, says SHA. They can warm the body, but if eaten in excess can make you feel restless and agitated. Yang foods include carrots, daikon and parsnips, while “extreme” Yang foods, such as fish and eggs, should be eaten in moderation.

According to a Body and Soul article examining macrobiotics, the diet has many health benefits. The eating philosophy is low-GI, high-fibre and low-fat which helps you feel fuller for longer. Followers of the diet can experience a “radiant complexion, sparkling eyes and, in the long term, a lower risk of heart disease and premature ageing”, says the article. “A bonus for women is that the diet is also rich in phytoestrogens, which may be helpful if you suffer from premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis or menopausal symptoms.” It lists the 10 Macro Superfoods as:

  1. Leafy green vegetables
  2. Pickles.
  3. Chilli peppers
  4. Shitake mushrooms.
  5. Miso.
  6. Beans.
  7. Daikon radish.
  8. Umeboshi plums.
  9. Green tea.
  10. Nuts

*It should be noted though that following a strict macrobiotic diet is not recommended for children, adolescents, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.