5 Basics Rules of Macrobiotics

Eating seasonal crops grown in the local environment

Macrobiotics encourages people to eat food grown in the local environment in which they live and that the crops be eaten in the season when they naturally grow. Plants have natural distribution areas, and plants in one area differ from the ones grown in other areas. The humans and animals that live in the area rely on the crops grown in the same area. When there was no transportation means, people could only acquire the local crops. Although the basis of human diet is whole grains and vegetables, what about the fishermen who live along coasts? Of course they eat more fish customarily, but there are conditions. They must be fresh. Carnivorous animals eat live animals, but they do not eat the animals that are dead for a week.

Balance is another important factor. For example, there is little rice harvested in the Amakusa region of Nagasaki prefecture; thus, people have eaten potatoes and sardine as staple foods. This combination has a good "Yin" and "Yang" balance. Any traditional food culture around the world has a good balance.

Also eating the local, seasonal crops makes the body better suited to the local climate and seasons. There are nightshade and cucurbitaceous crops which cool the body in summer, and grains and potatoes which store fat on the body for coming winter in the fall season. There are also root vegetables to warm the body in winter and grass and flowers to disintegrate the fat from the past winter in spring. Therefore, eating seasonal crops helps the body adjust to the local climate.

Eating foods whole

This concept comes from the basic eastern idea, "there is nothing to waste in this world." Everything is a part of our lives, including good and bad. The macrobiotic idea of eating a whole part is an application of this eastern idea. Food is balanced as a whole and there is no unnecessary part. In the case of rice, the whole part is brown rice with husks.

Brown rice has an excellent balance with various vitamins and 11 kinds of minerals essential for human health. It is considered a complete food product. As with fish, the whole part with the head, tail, intestines, bones, etc. has good balance and tastes delicious as a whole.

The fish head, eyes, and intestines, which are usually thrown away, have recently been found to be the substance which helps prevent arteriosclerosis. Therefore, small fish such as parched small sardines, sprat, and so on, are recommended.

In the case of sugar, brown sugar contains minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, etc. which are not included in white refined sugar. Thus, brown sugar does not change blood sugar level drastically and does not take calcium away when it changes into energy. Also sea salt has more minerals and a better balance than refined salt. However, every food item cannot be consumed in its whole part; macrobiotics recommends to practice in the possible and practical range.

Eating Grains and Vegetables

In today's modern world, people are living full of desire, social pressures and stress. Eating grains and vegetables is a way for humans to regain their true human nature with health and love. Every animal has its staple food. From a biological point of view, humans are best suited to a grain based diet although it may depend on the environment in which they live. According to many studies, it is found that people become peaceful and gentle with a grain-based diet. Also the meals based on grains and vegetables purify the blood and activate the function of the brain stem. This results in stronger sensitivity, better decision-making, and sharper intuition. Maintaining our true human nature results in a much greater capacity to understand and embrace varying points of view.

On the contrary, overeating animal foods can make humans physiologically dull, violent, and rough. People tend to adopt addictive habits and unnatural desires. There was an American teenage detention center which shifted its meals to a grain and vegetable base. This change resulted in the boys' behaviors and personality becoming milder and changed their environment for the better. Even after only four days of changing the diet, the incidence of violence was reduced by over 50%. A grain and vegetable based diet can physiologically alter stress, desires, and sanity, offering a more naturally peaceful state of mind.

Yin and Yang

Yang refers to contracting, centripetal energy. &Yin& means diffusing, centrifugal energy. Macrobiotics uses the terms &Yin& and &Yang& as a way to better understand and measure events and happenings, and learn from life occurrences. Every food is not fixed in a &Yin& or &Yang& state. One basic way one can approach food is in looking at animal products as &Yang,& vegetables as &Yin," and grains as neutral from the whole food viewpoint. Balancing &Yin& and &Yang& by cooking thoroughly and adjusting the amount of salt is important. For example, although eggplants are &Yin,& it is all right to eat a small amount, or cook them well and/or balance them with miso or salt which are &Yang& in nature. As important as the quality of the foods we choose are, the amount we eat is as important. Even overeating brown rice changes it to &Yin.& Secondly, when &Yin& or &Yang& is unclear, cooking the foods well helps to equalize the yin and yang characteristics of the food. Third, is adjusting the amount of salt when cooking. When coordinating foods, it is important to include both sea vegetables and mountainous foods. Sea vegetables contain sodium that is &Yang& and mountainous foods contain potassium that is &Yin.&

Animal foods have stronger energy to fasten, solidify, and warm the body than other foods. They also contain more sodium that is &Yang& in nature, and taking too many animal foods causes thickening blood to raise blood pressure and block arteries. In order to moderate the effects of animal food, &Yin& products such as seasoning, fruit, and nightshades that have loosening, dissolving, and cooling functions and the substance potassium, are used. However, the best diet should be based on grains that are neutral in nature and supplemented with vegetables and sea vegetables. The traditional Japanese meal with rice, vegetables, sea vegetables, and pickles is recognized worldwide as the best-balanced in &Yin& and &Yang.&

The Right Eating Manner

In the same way that modern paleontologists can tell what type of diet a particular dinosaur ate from their teeth, our teeth reveal the ideal proportion of foods for the human diet.

As adults, we have 32 teeth, 20 molars and premolars to chew grains, 8 front incisors to cut vegetables, and 4 canine teeth to chew animal products. The ratio is 5:2:1. From this point of view, the right eating balance for humans is 60% grains, 30% vegetables and sea vegetables, and 10% animal foods. However, today's modern diet is generally lacking in carbohydrates and excessive of protein. For people who have a history of eating meat or fish and would like to change to a more vegetarian diet, it is to gradually abstain from meat, eating it once every few days. The drastic change in eating habits or forgoing favorite foods is difficult; thus, changing eating habits gradually without accumulating stress over it is recommended.

Chewing foods thoroughly also helps to avoid sickness. It is recommended to chew more than 50 times per bite; it not only helps in digestion but also produces enzymes which eliminate carcinogenic toxins and prevent arteriosclerosis. Therefore, to maintain health, people should chew at least 30-50 times per mouthful and for sick people to chew 50-100 times per mouthful until one's health returns to normal.

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