What makes Macrobiotics a unique approach to follow?
What sets Macrobiotics apart from other techniques, is the fact that it addresses the use of Universal energy, that splits into ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ to explain foods, constitution, cooing styles, and your health ailment. When it comes to the use of cooking styles, let’s look at 2 examples: One such cooking style is nishime: water-less cooking. Vegetables cook in their own juices and this style balances out blood sugar levels; the style itself, works like a steam engine, as a heavy cast iron pot (yang energy) is used to cook the vegetables and very little water, say a tablespoon for 1 cup of vegetables is added – once the lid is shut one does not touch the pot for 20 minutes. This style makes for a perfect balance of these two polarities of yin and yang, and is used a lot to help someone get more energy and also discharge soft dairy like cheese, ice-cream from the body. Another example of a cooking style is that of a pressed salad, where a vegetable is shredded and then pressed with sea salt for upto an hour, provides good fermentation at a meal. The energetics of this cookingstyle (applying the yin and yang concepts) releases pressure in a person, besides providing good fermentation. These cooking styles and using a combination of other cooking styles like sauteing, boiling, blanching at one meal is always emphasized, to also allow for different energies that a person can take away from a meal.
Why Macrobiotics encompasses both Functional Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine?
The body is one integrated system, Functional Medicine makes you work with the whole body as a system; as does the Macrobiotic approach and Ayurveda. All three disciplines, work on the root cause of disease. For example, someone comes in with rheumatoid arthritis; and exhibits symptoms pain. Conventional medicine will suppress the disease with some painkillers, while Macrobiotics, Ayurveda or Functional medicine addresses why is their inflammation is there in the first place; what are the drivers of the rheumatoid arthritis, does the client have a weak gut that preceded the condition? While conventional will focus on symptoms, and not removing it from the root cause; Macrobiotics, Ayurveda and Functional Medicine with strive to do so. Also, another aspect in common is the fact that, a final diagnosis will be the result of many factors, the underlying factor being ‘inflammation.’ In the same vein ‘inflammation’ may manifest in many different health issues, and sometimes simultaneously.
In most cases, it is your diet, genes, lifestyle, environmental factorsor a combination of all fourthat causes the disease or ailment. I use diet with functional foods, supplementation, Ayurvedic herb concoctions based on prakriti diagnosis (under an esteemd Ayurvedic doctor I have worked with for 15 years); to reverse or put into remission the disease or ailment. For e.g., you have an autoimmune disease and candida, I will first remove all the foods that trigger candida from your diet; then treat you with functional foods (diet) and supplements that will work for you. Ayurveda treats much the same way, however the use of diet in Ayurveda today is not that widely practiced catering to each ailment. An Ayurvedic, Macrobiotic and Functional medicine approach allows us practitioners to use foods to treat all health dysfunctions together, more cohesively.
I also use along with nutrition use physical activity, minimize social and environmental exposures, balance circadian rhythm and manage stress; to prevent, reverse and treat disease, and its progression; what is termed today as ‘Lifestyle Medicine.’ I sometimes also use homeopathy by recommending you to an esteemed homeopathic doctor, I work with; sometimes I use bodywork health practitioners (from streams of Craniosacral therapy, acupuncture, acupressure).
Culturally and historically India is naturally receptive to the Macrobiotic ideal. Our cuisine is predominantly one of whole grains and vegetables. In fact, we as Indians do not have to make major shifts in attitude to adopt a Macrobiotic diet; it only requires some readjustments.
Should we follow a Macrobiotic approach to life?
While Macrobiotics does advocate giving up or minimizing dairy, sugar, refined flours, alcohol and animal foods. It does not advocate that if you don’t do this, you cannot live a life. What it beautifully does is make you walk a path and see which turn you’d like to take. If you get completely healthy, what would you choose to keep and get rid of, once you know and apply the principles. Of course, for those with health ailments its does become a little stringent. However, for those that want to apply it to their daily life it advocates ‘Living with Freedom’ do not be bound by rules but also do not be ignorant of them.
There have been views that the diet maybe deficient on B12 as this is obtained from animal foods, but experienced practitioners will take care of this once you are on the program and help you incorporate foods that will give you abundant B12. B12, is replenished fermented foods. The diet is rich in leafy greens and spirulina, calcium and vitamin D deficiencies are taken care off. There have been questions about the protein content that comes out of a Macrobiotic approach, which gets addressed with balanced meal plans, and vegan protein powders if required. While strong Macrobiotic advocates say that nightshade vegetables like: eggplant, tomatoes, okra, potatoes and peppers should be eliminated or minimized, it is a matter of choice depending upon where one lives. Macrobiotics also believes in eating locally and looking at climatic conditions and these nightshades are fine to eat in a tropical climate like that of India.
Healthy every day, every minute or up and down for the rest of one’s life? This is a choice that every individual must make for oneself. A Macrobiotic approach makes one live with freedom, knowledge and awareness at each step; understanding that the only way to being healthy is being conscious of what we eat, respecting the environment and being in sync with it.
12 REASONS TO CHOOSE MACROBIOTICS(Source: Simon Brown)
- It is a broad varied diet primarily consisting of grains, vegetables, fish, beans, seeds, fruit and nuts.
- Many people claim that eating a Macrobiotic diet has helped them to cure from ailments and recover from illness.
- It is a flexible approach to eating that can be used over a few days or for life.
- Using macrobiotic principles, you can choose and prepare foods to change the way you feel.
- You can eat anything as long as you know what the likely influence of that food is and are sure it will lead to good health.
- The high fiber used in macrobiotics keeps your digestive system healthy.
- Being low in saturated fats, a macrobiotic diet enhances your blood quality, improving your circulation and heart.
- Low on the glycemic index, macrobiotic foods encourage even blood sugar levels. Making it easier to lose weight and enjoy emotional stability.
- The foods are well balanced in terms of acid and alkaline as well as sodium and potassium.
- The predominance of complex carbohydrates means that the meals provide plenty of sustainable energy, leading to greater stamina.
- The general Macrobiotic diet is high in proteins, iron, calcium, and other minerals and vitamins.
- Macrobiotics is a complete approach to healthy eating that encompasses everything from selecting good ingredients, to cooking methods and eating.