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Macrobiotics! What's in a name?
By Raed A. Tolaymat

Imagine being able to live for years without once getting a cold or missing one day of work.

Imagine being able to spend your pregnancy and nursing months without getting tired and without the fear of having diabetes or varicose veins and without taking a single pill.

Imagine being able to stay slim and active without having to count calories.

Macrobiotics teaches you how.

What is macrobiotics?

Macrobiotics is deeply founded on the principle of oriental medicine. It teaches the laws of nature and how to live harmoniously within them. It is not just a diet, but a holistic approach to living that takes into account all aspects of life. It stresses the importance of a balanced diet because diet is the foundation for a healthy, hence happy, and harmonious life.

It calls for living a balanced life based on the two complementary, but opposite, natural forces of contraction and expansion. These forces are often referred to by their well-known and convenient oriental names of yin and yang. Sometimes they are called male and female or positive and negative, and you can call them what you like so long as you understand them.

It is mentioned in some of the ancient literature: The truth is one. The sages speak of it by many names.
The philosophy of yin-yang in macrobiotics shows in simple terms how the universe works. Many phenomena that are ambiguous become crystal clear.


Yin is the force of expansion and yang is the force of contraction. These two complementary forces rule everything in this world. Think of a beating heart. Heart beats are actually nothing more that an oscillation between the two forces of contraction (yang) and expansion (yin). So are our breathing lungs. Even when we walk, our movement is due to the synchronized contraction and expansion of our varied muscles.

Why do some foods propagate an infection and others stop it?

Sodium and calcium are yang while potassium and magnesium are yin. Yang elements, being contractive, prevent and constrain bacteria from multiplying, while yin elements, being expansive, promote and enhance bacterial multiplication.

Therefore, foods rich in sodium and calcium, kill bacteria and stop an infection while foods that are rich in potassium and magnesium, increase the infection. This is a simple scientific example of macrobiotics.

My experience with my own diet and with thousands of patients who have visited my consultation office over the last few years from 32 different countries has shown me time and time again that sodium-rich and calcium-rich vegetables are the best antibiotics in the world. They are better that any antibiotic chemicals man has ever invented.

They also have several advantages over chemical antibiotics:

  • Bacteria can not develop resistance to these foods like they do to chemical antibiotics

  • They have no side effects

  • They are always effective unlike some chemical antibiotics that fail o eliminate an infection even after repeated doses.

Many patients with diseases that were difficult to cure like tuberculosis, gangrene, Chlamydia and countless forms of infections have been cured using the proper selection of foods.

The macrobiotic movement has become increasingly popular during the past decade due to the many shortfalls in traditional western medicine and due also to various astonishing recoveries of terminally ill patients who used a carefully designed diet.

Modern medicine and macrobiotics

2500 years ago, the Greek Hippocrates, the father of modern western medicine, admonished his students in one of his precise aphorisms "Thy food shall be thy remedy". Modern medicine and macrobiotics do agree. Food is your best medicine. No matter what the illness and no matter what you call this approach.

Let us listen to what the world renowned Dr. Henry G. Bieler, M.D has to say about this: "I began to suspect the close relationship between health and proper eating habits when, early in my career as an overworked young doctor, my own health broke down.

I have always been a man of great curiosity and as I investigated deeply the chemistry of food along new lines, I came to the conclusion that I, personally must give up the use of drugs and henceforth rely solely on food as medicine. It was not long until, after repeated verified results, I discarded drugs in treating my patients. My colleagues, at the time, thought I had lost my mind. But time has only strengthened my belief."

As a person's understanding of the macrobiotics principles deepens, it will eventually become clear that all diseases are the result of a long term disturbance of these two forces at work in the human body. Let us take for example two GI tract disturbances, constipation and diarrhea. Constipation is the result of consuming too much yang foods (contractive) like red meat.

Therefore, constipation is a yang illness and can be cured by yin foods like cauliflower and celery. Diarrhea is the result of consuming too much yin foods (expansive) like sugars and fruit. Therefore, diarrhea is a yin illness and can be cured by yang foods like buckwheat leeks and carrots.

If we start thinking in these terms, everything becomes crystal clear and the road to health will no longer be a mystery. And if you know which foods to select for patients with these illnesses, there will be no need for chemical medicine. Food really is your best medicine.

The standard macrobiotic diet developed over the years is general and not for everyone. Your own health condition, especially if it is a serious condition, might require you to do more research into what foods are currently right for you, which means digging deep into the macrobiotic concepts of yin and yang and balance. It would also mean experimenting for a long time with foods to see how each affects your body.

Macrobiotics philosophy originated in the orient and the main teachers who carried macrobiotics from the far-east to the west and other places were Japanese. So it was natural for them to teach people eating balanced Japanese macrobiotic foods. However, we must not forget that in a broad sense macrobiotics calls for understanding the world around us and applying its principles of balance in our daily lives including our eating habits.

One of the fundamentals of macrobiotics is that one should eat locally grown food. This means that applying macrobiotics principles in south-Africa, one has to select south-African balanced foods, and applying macrobiotic principles in south-America, one has to eat balanced south-American foods, and so on.

Where is the calcium in macrobiotics foods?

One of the questions I get asked the most by patients is: "No Dairy products! Where is the calcium in my diet?"
A common misconception is that the macrobiotic diet does not provide enough calcium because it does not include milk and dairy foods.

This diet is actually very rich in calcium as it includes: sesame seeds, seaweeds, leafy greens and root vegetables and green tea which are all rich sources of calcium. The body can assimilate calcium in these foods more readily than milk calcium.

Plus, these foods do not create problems normally associated with milk and dairy foods such as bloating, mucous and ovarian cysts among women and respiratory problems like asthma and allergies.

About the author,

Raed Tolaymat is a nutrition consultant in Dubai and throughout the middle east. He also lectures on health and nutrition. He has authored two books (food is medicine, your kitchen is your pharmacy) and about 10 articles on this subject and has made numerous TV appearances on 4 satellite channels and was recently featured in a 13-part television program called food is medicine.

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