At the end of the 19th Century, a Japanese military medical doctor called Sagen Ishizuka came up with the idea that if people would only go back to the traditional Japanese (it was also based on other Oriental types of diets, like Chinese, for example) diet, they would have much better health. But, his theory had more twists to it than that. Ishizuka was born with multiple medical complaints, including kidney disease, and he also suffered from a skin ailment. Thus, his life was spent searching for a solution to his own problems, which he found, and that became what is now known as macrobiotics. He incorporated many Western ideas and scientific facts into his theory, taking advantage of the best of the East and West, specifically chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and physiology. In doing so, he came up with one of the most amazingly successful dietary and lifestyle health techniques in history.
His method was so popular during his lifetime that he could hardly keep up with the amount of patients that saw him every day. His healing method was renowned in his own time, and he was well known all over Japan, and even outside of his country. In 1907 he and some friends started a group called Shoku-yo-khail, which was made up of a slew of important people of the time in Japan, including businessmen and noblemen. It is still one of the most popular and effective health techniques ever, and is growing in popularity every day. Thereafter Ishizuka’s association drew many followers and practitioners and soon they too were writing about macrobiotics and the word began to spread in larger circles. One of these people was George Ohsawa (whose actual name was Yukikazu Sakurazawa, and who began studying macrobiotics when he was young and his own illness (tuberculosis) led him to try it), who wrote many books, and who, himself, came to have many followers (among whom were Michio Kushi (who is the most important living macrobiotic expert of today) and Herman Aihara, both of whom were instrumental in bringing macrobiotics to the USA), who helped spread the message of macrobiotics all over the world. Many famous people have followed macrobiotic diets over the years, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
The basis for macrobiotic (which basically means “big life”, which was actually based on Greek words, but first coined in a book written by a German author, from whom Ohsawa adopted it later) healing is to get the body back to the best possible balance (homeostasis, or balanced “yin” and “yang”) with the least interference. The idea is to balance the internal functioning of the body based on climate and available seasonal foods. In macrobiotics grains should be the highest percentage of foods eaten, with certain vegetables (some vegetables are not recommended in macrobiotics for a variety of reasons) coming next, little or no animal foods, except for minimal seafood, and that all foods should be as wholesome as possible, with complete foods being the mainstay, and no processed or pre-prepared foods, spices, etc. allowed at all. An idea of the recommended percentages is as follows:
25% accepted vegetables
5-10% beans, sea vegetables
5% soup (particularly miso soup, which is made from fermented soybean)
5% condiments (and other things)
(This is only ONE suggestion, and this must be fitted to the person’s needs, not to a chart).
n addition to the dietary advice, it is also imperative to lead a wholesome life, and thus, anger, bad moods, pessimism, and other negative feelings should be eliminated as much as possible. The program is generally adapted for each individual and for each climate, based on the needs and illnesses of the person. The dietary part is generally a changeable one, in that people’s bodies change over time, and as they do, the macrobiotic diet should be changing with them.
At this point in history macrobiotics is as popular as it always was, with macrobiotic centers found in practically every country in the world, particularly in most Western countries, and, naturally, Japan. Its popularity grows constantly and for good reason! It works!