A Macrobiotic Approach with Ayurveda for Good Health
Indians are becoming more and more health-conscious and a gradual awareness is rising amongst Indians to lead healthy and fit lives. Along with the idea of eating healthy from the outside, people now also want to look healthy from the inside. “Wellness” according to Colin Hall, spa director, Ananda means, “Taking Control of Our Lives. We need to balance our mind, body, and soul. It’s not about popping pills but returning to holistic healing. We’re packaging preventive health management, rather than reacting to illness and we do so only when it’s too late. We’re not going to live in a hurry and kill ourselves with stress. The message is: indulge, indulge, and indulge.”
The wellness industry is proactive people voluntarily become customers – to feel healthier, to reduce the effects of aging, and to avoid becoming customers of the sickness business. Everyone wants to be a customer of this earlier-stage approach to health.
We are at the very beginning of the next trillion-dollar industry (worldwide) an industry that will impact almost every aspect of our lives and achieve $1 trillion in sales within the next 10 years, but one that is as unknown today at the automobile industry was in 1908 or the personal computer industry was in 1981. Even if we assume India is 1% of this industry worldwide, then Indians, are standing on the brink of an Industry propagating a wellness revolution.
A survey conducted by ACNielsen on Health and Fitness indicates that most Indians are currently trying to lose weight 72%, more urban Indians are likely to cut down on foods perceived as “fattening” compared to a majority of other countries in Asia 48%, most Indians claim they exercise once or twice a week, walking/jogging is the most popular type of exercise 44%, 55% of the population believes that they will change their food patterns due to a health scare, 48% claim they will avoid foods that would put them at a risk for disease.
The fitness movement in India is looming larger than ever before with the advent of International gyms (Golds Gym) and local gyms (Endurance, Sykz, Fitness Trends, etc). Also, the formats (be it classes ranging from yoga to gym ball, cardio circuit training, or spinning) in these gyms cater to the variety of conscious health freaks that are interested in keeping trim and the weight down.
Very few health-conscious people do realize the value of healthy food that can impact the body and mind in keeping one healthy. Most believe a one-hour workout at a gym is good enough while they can continue to live abusive lifestyles (indulging in alcohol binges, smoking incessantly, and eating badly). With the Covid crisis the world has undergone, immunity has been harped on and every social media influencer is talking in terms of medical ‘gyan’ on the subject. However, most people do not realize that an imbalanced body creates an imbalanced mind thus leading to disease in the body.
A great health revolution is sweeping the planet and India seems to be also at the brink of realizing something that already exists in Indian culture (Ayurveda) but has been lost over time. In that, alternative medicine, holistic healing, plant-based diets, and indigenous home remedies will move into mainstream cures.
Outlined below is a background of the guiding philosophy of Macrobiotics in India.
MACROBIOTICS & THE ART OF HEALTHY LIVING
The use of beneficial food is the only cause of the growth of a person, while the use of food that is injurious is the cause of disease. It is the consequence of this deterioration that there took place a corresponding deterioration in the taste, potency, post-digestive effect, and quality of seeds and plants. In this manner, righteousness dwindles in each succeeding age by one quarter….. until eventually, the world comes to dissolution [and is reborn].
-Charaka Samhita, Indian medical encyclopedia, first century A.D.
More than a diet, Macrobiotics is a philosophy. “Macro” means large and “bio” means life. It is the art of creating a big life – a rich, full, exciting life. It was coined by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, nearly 2,500 years ago, whose approach to health and healing was based on his famous proverb “Let food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be food”. Its most recent development stems from Michio Kushi who was inspired by philosopher-writer George Ohsawa. The Standard Macrobiotic Diet provides sound recommendations for developing a sense of balance and strengthening one’s health. The foods included in the Standard Diet are whole grains, a variety of vegetables, beans, and bean products (tofu for example), soups, pickles, desserts, condiments, and non-aromatic teas. Occasional foods include fish, fruit, and some alcoholic beverages. Normally eschewed are highly refined sugars, chemicalized and processed foods, nightshade vegetables, dairy products, eggs, and most other animal foods (except fish).
Through the study and understanding of the relationship and interactions between ourselves, the foods we eat, the lifestyles we choose to lead, and the environments in which we live we make balance in our daily life. The Macrobiotic approach is based on the view that we are the result of and are continually influenced by our total environment, which ranges from the foods we eat and our daily social interactions to the climate and geography in which we live.
In considering all factors that influence our lives, the Macrobiotic approach to health and healing views sickness as the natural attempt of the body to return to a more harmonious and dynamic state with the natural environment.
The Macrobiotics way of eating is not a set diet that applies rigidly to everyone, but a flexible dietary approach that differs according to climate, environment, condition of health, sex, age, activity level, and personal need. For example, spices are advocated in a tropical climate like in India, but not in a temperate climate (US). Standard Macrobiotics dietary practice provides almost limitless variety and choice to prepare healthful, delicious food suited to our unique requirements, needs, and goals. The standard Macrobiotic diet is based on a comprehensive approach that takes into account the overall balance of energy and nutrients of the food and looks at multiple causes and effects. The standard Macrobiotic way of eating is not designed for any particular person nor any special condition of health. It serves to maintain physical and psychological health and well-being. It further serves, in many instances, to prevent many common ailments and chronic conditions, as well as promote possible recovery from serious diseases and disorders.
With the benefits of practicing Macrobiotics, one achieves a radiant mind because eating whole grains produces a more holistic way of thinking. It makes sense that eating foods created by nature helps us to harmonize with natural rhythms. By tuning in to the bigger forces, we are freed from former limits; illnesses reverse themselves, unnecessary conflicts disappear, and we become peaceful, playful, and free. When our bodies are in balance, then weight, (which is an indication that a body is not in its natural state of balance) will automatically drop off. The wholesome foods nourish
Food as energy – The Ying Yang principle
The practice of Macrobiotics is based on the understanding of food as energy. Electrons and protons are not solid particles, but condensed packets of energy. Everything is energy, everything is composed of vibration. There is no unchanging or fixed substance in the universe. Therefore, our understanding of food incorporates, but is not limited to, theories of modern nutrition.
In modern nutrition, food is viewed in terms of its physicality (macronutrients and micronutrients). In reality, there is an invisible quality to food (and to life itself) that cannot be measured directly. There is an ‘energetic’ component to food, you can call it ‘life-force,’ ‘prana,’ or ‘chi.’
In Macrobiotics, we employ a very simple tool for understanding the movement of energy. We understand food in terms of yin (expansion) and yang (contraction). All foods are made up of varying degrees of these two basic forces. We use this understanding to see how food affects us in a very dynamic and practical way. By understanding food as energy, we see it affects our physical condition, mind, emotions, and even our spirituality. These invisible aspects of life are a function of the quality of energy we manifest.
If we eat a food such as a steak, which is very yang or contracted, we are naturally attracted to foods with the opposite quality of energy. So, we eat the steak with potatoes, alcohol, or a sugary dessert such as ice cream. All of these foods are extremely yin. To balance extremes, we have to add many things that we don’t need. We wind up taking excess fat, excess protein, excess carbohydrate, and excess water. Our body is constantly being challenged.