Macrobiotic diet basics,
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The Seven Essential Components are found in these Food Categories:
Carbohydrates - whole grains, beans, vegetables, seeds, fruits;
Proteins - beans, bean products, fish, seeds, nuts, meat, eggs, dairy;
Fats and oils - cooking oils, nut butters, nuts, seeds, butter, animal foods;
Minerals - salts, sea vegetables, vegetables, fish, meat;
Vitamins - vegetables, fruits, sea vegetables;
Enzymes - fermented foods, raw vegetables and fruits;
Water - spring water, vegetables, fruits;
According to recent studies from archeologists, anthropologists, and comparative anatomists, for thousands of years, human beings ate mostly vegetable foods including wild grains, roots, beans, nuts, tubers, fruits and wild game. The vegetables grew in mineral-rich soil in harmony with the growing seasons and the wild game was very lean (with eight to ten times less fat than modern domesticated animals). The ratio of vegetable quality foods to animal foods was three-to-one and disease was rarely caused by diet.
We see these vegetable-based diets in the traditional diets of many cultures. For example:
- Asia - rice, aduki and soybean products, vegetables and fish;
- Latin America - corn, beans, vegetables and chicken;
- Middle East - cous cous, Hummus (chickpeas) vegetables and lamb;
- Northern Europe: wheat, barley, kasha, split peas, pickled vegetables and salted fish;
- North America: wild rice, corn, baked beans, vegetables and fish.
The percentage of deaths linked to these traditional vegetable-based diets is still relatively low.
However, in the United States, especially since the Industrial Revolution, the ratio of vegetables to animal foods has reversed, now being one to three. Instead of following a whole foods, vegetable-based diet, our food choices are dominated by: fast food restaurants that focus on animal meats; huge commercial growing farms that use pesticides and depleted soils; over-processed grains that have few nutrients and no fiber; and excess dairy products and sugar. The ratio of vegetables to animal foods is one to three, and hundreds of diseases are casually linked to this modern diet.
The traditional vegetable-based diets are recognized and encouraged by national and international health organizations as the most health supporting, because they are high in nutrients and fiber and low in fat.
When choosing a whole foods diet, it's very important to consider the quality of the food. It's important to choose organic foods to get the most nutrients, to support the organic farmers, and to not support the use of pesticides because of the negative effects on the body, wildlife and the environment.
A Partial List of the Foods in Each Category:
Organic Whole grains and whole grain products:
Whole grains are 'live' foods with active enzymes that enable the grain to sprout if it is soaked in water. Compared to processed grains, which are often refined and bleached by chemicals, whole grains are rich in complex carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.
Grains: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, rye, spelt, sweet rice, teff, wheat, wild rice;
Grain products: fu, mochi, seitan, whole-grain bread and pasta;
Organic Beans and Bean Products:
In general, the body requires more carbohydrates than proteins because carbohydrates are used for daily activity and protein is used for maintenance. This ratio, however, is dependent upon one's level of activity, age, climate, health condition, body 'goals' and other factors so it must be determined individually.
Beans: adukis, black-eyed peas, black turtles, black soybeans, garbonzos, great northerns, kidneys, lentils, limas, navies, pintos, split peas;
Bean products: miso, natto, soy products, tempeh, tofu;
Organic Nuts and Seeds:
Excellent sources of protein and fat, nuts and seeds are plentiful. When un-shelled they are easy to store for a long time. Once shelled, however, they are susceptible to rancidity if left at room temperature unless preserved with salt or shoyu.
Nuts: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts;
Seeds: pumpkins, sesames, sunflowers, flax;
Organic Sea Vegetables and Land Vegetables:
Rich in minerals, trace elements, vitamins and fiber, sea and land vegetables build bones and muscles, nourish the skin, cleanse and revitalize the body.
Sea Vegetables: agar agar, arame, dulse, fresh-water algae, hiziki, kombu, mekabu, nori, sea palm, wakame;
- roots: burdock, carrot, daikon, jinenjo, lotus, parsnip, turnip, rutabaga;
- ground rounds: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, squash;
- leafy greens: bok choy, collards, kale, lettuces, leeks, spinach, sprouts, mustard greens, chard, lettuces, radicchio, arugula, frisee, mizuna;
An important source of vitamins and water and enzymes, the use of fruit as a food source depends upon what is growing in the local area in season.
- Temperate climate: apples, apricots, berries, cherries, melons, peaches, pears, plums;
- Tropical climate: bananas, grapefruit, mangoes, oranges, papayas, pineapples;
Knowing that the food components necessary for health are available in a whole foods diet, how do we adapt the diet to meet personal health conditions, activities for the day and climate variables? I've found it wonderfully helpful to understand and use the distinctions of the Expansive (Yin) and Contractive (Yang) forces found everywhere in Nature.
Next: Expansive or Contractive? Yin and Yang