3

votes

Is the macrobiotic diet healthy?

Commented on July 30, 2015
Created March 05, 2010 at 2:41 AM

I just came across the macrobiotic diet.

... is a dietary regimen that involves eating grains as a staple food supplemented with other foodstuffs such as vegetables and beans, and avoiding the use of highly processed or refined foods.

Besides the avoidance of processed and refined foods, it seems to be rather opposite of the Paleo diet. Nonetheless, some people swear by it. Has anyone here had first hand experience with the macrobiotic diet? Can this be a healthful diet?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on January 16, 2012
at 03:05 AM

The "peach fuzz" is a response to low body fat- very dangerous, especially with women. Good thing she was done with child-birth, probably has lost her fertility by this point.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on January 16, 2012
at 03:03 AM

Haha, like the "grainatarian"- I definitely eat more fresh food and veggies now than I did as a vegetarian.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on January 16, 2012
at 03:02 AM

+ McKeith's husband is a lawyer, she's pretty famous for suing anything and everything.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on January 16, 2012
at 03:02 AM

Gillian McKeith is soooo bad...she doesn't understand grade 10 biology, and has absolutely nothing but totally fake credentials. I doubt she's every cracked a biochemistry textbook in her life. After all the books she's written, pretty sure a grade-school class could beat her in a biology test.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 16, 2012
at 02:02 AM

thanks Nance! I think some macro diets really aren't that much different than PHD, except it is brown rice instead of white. I think I would have been healthier for longer on it if I had included fish.

Medium avatar

(2923)

on January 15, 2012
at 09:10 PM

That's been my personal impression, macros and vegetarians look thin, but not healthy thin ("lean"?), whereas pictures of paleos/primals I've seen online look lean and healthy ... although they also tend to look a little feral :p

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 15, 2012
at 07:49 PM

@Loon, I like the fact that you're being very objective about it. I remember the alarming reports of people nearly dying from macrobiotic diets but then you read that they were trying to live on nothing but rice. I believe you can be just as foolish on the ancestral lifestyle; we are meant to eat MANY foods, not just a few.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on September 19, 2011
at 09:06 PM

Corn and wheat usually are greatly limited just because they are usually consumed in flour form, and flours are minimized on a macro diet in favor of more intact grains.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on September 19, 2011
at 09:05 PM

You are on to something here. I think if it was higher in the right fats, people would do better on it.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on September 19, 2011
at 09:03 PM

This is not the model macro diet by any means!!!!! It's like saying someone is paleo if they go out for pizza several times a week, and then make a weekend meal of broccoli and grass-fed beef. Macro includes sea vegetables, miso soup, wide use of other fermented foods.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on September 19, 2011
at 08:58 PM

I think both macro and paleo attract lots of unhealthy people because they want to improve their health. My health was greatly improved on the first few years on macro. I probably would have done better on it for longer had I eaten fish. I do think people who follow it strictly, but don't add too many nuts or sesame seed will do better longer and may be fine if they stay on it.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 24, 2011
at 02:27 PM

Are we trading anecdotes? I know a lot of macrobiotic people who are among the unhealthiest people I know and some who have gone paleo because their health declined on the diet. In the sci literature, there are numerous accounts of children getting rickets on macrobiotic diets. In case you haven't heard of Denise Minger, check out http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/07/07/the-china-study-fact-or-fallac/

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on August 24, 2011
at 04:40 AM

Recent studies verify the superiority of a whole plant foods diet; Dr. T. Colin Campbell (The China Study) Dr. Mc Doughall, Dr. Esselstyn 9(who Clinton has followed) Dr. Ornish, Michio Kushi, and countless others. John you just made my night. Have you heard of someone named Denise Minger by any chance?

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 25, 2011
at 09:54 AM

I don't have an answer for you, but I heard a humorous piece on NPR about a macrobiotic convention in Seattle years ago. The cleaning crew was shocked by all of the pizza boxes stuffed between mattresses and tucked under beds.

F52b51135f2c47eb46c986fdc9760b9b

(180)

on July 25, 2011
at 04:02 AM

I had the same experience: improvements at first, but things got worse and worse over time. Had lots of energy though, more so than before or since. If it didn't make me feel so bad in almost every other way I'd go back to it.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on July 25, 2011
at 12:42 AM

If by "healthy" you mean "impotent" then yes. Some people do mean impotent!

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 15, 2010
at 02:44 PM

I love that you mentioned chewing in particular. Just a side note, but i really believe better chewing would help so many people with overall digestion. We in the US (prolly in other places too but) are just never ever really really ingrained with proper amount of chewing that should be done. I know people often hear "chew your food!" when theyre growing up but its in one ear and out the other. No real focus at all. Especially once we're grown up and busy with life, etc. But if you masticate until everything is pretty much liquid i think we benefit from better overall absorption of our food.

92894924b5d2a542a650f3f778f53535

(130)

on June 15, 2010
at 04:08 AM

Lol Gillian McKeith... "McKeith commenced legal action against [] Google, for linking to a critical website; Nutrition professor John Garrow, who questioned her nutrition research in a medical newsletter; Dr. Dorothy King for writing on a blog called PhDiva for questioning claims by nutritionists that mentioned McKeith." So basically don't question her credentials or anything she ever says, or MENTION anyone who has, right?

5cd18bfcafadc56292971e59f2f1faf6

(2475)

on March 05, 2010
at 07:01 PM

Great observation, David. That's why controlled studies are so important.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 05, 2010
at 01:15 PM

Ugh, just looked up Gillian McKeith. Reminds me how politically correct nutrition is a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge problem for those of us dedicated to helping people eat healthier. Vegetables are well and good...but where are the calories going to come from? Certainly not lard or coconut oil...probably vegetable oil.

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14 Answers

6
5ebeec76e20738d0a17cd724d64b1e0f

on March 06, 2010
at 12:23 PM

I was on the macrobiotic diet for several years. It seems to help some people a lot, but in my case, it made my various health problems worse over time, although there was some improvement at first.

Macro does eliminate things like trans-fats, processed foods, sugar, etc. Although it might be considered "grain based," it's not grain in the Western sense; it's mostly brown rice, with a few others like quinoa or millet thrown in for variety, but it doesn't allow corn or wheat. Lots of seaweeds for B-12 and minerals; beans to complete the essential amino acids; lots of dark green veggies; some squashes; no nightshades; very limited nuts and seeds. It's also low fat; no eggs or dairy.

Another feature of Macro is lots and lots of chewing. You are supposed to chew your food until it is totally liquid, which makes it easier for nutrients to be well-absorbed. Chewing also causes insulin to be released, though.

The bottom line is that they do some things right (which explains the positive benefits that some people have), but get derailed by the low-fat and no animal product concepts.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 15, 2010
at 02:44 PM

I love that you mentioned chewing in particular. Just a side note, but i really believe better chewing would help so many people with overall digestion. We in the US (prolly in other places too but) are just never ever really really ingrained with proper amount of chewing that should be done. I know people often hear "chew your food!" when theyre growing up but its in one ear and out the other. No real focus at all. Especially once we're grown up and busy with life, etc. But if you masticate until everything is pretty much liquid i think we benefit from better overall absorption of our food.

F52b51135f2c47eb46c986fdc9760b9b

(180)

on July 25, 2011
at 04:02 AM

I had the same experience: improvements at first, but things got worse and worse over time. Had lots of energy though, more so than before or since. If it didn't make me feel so bad in almost every other way I'd go back to it.

6
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on March 05, 2010
at 08:02 AM

I think it's pretty clear that a diet based almost exclusively on grains is going to be anything but healthy, but I don't think there's anything of a paradox in the beneficial results people report from going macrobiotic/vegan/raw vegetarian/juice diet etc. The value of a diet is always relative to some other diet and no doubt eating something at least vaguely akin to food, such as raw oats and piles and piles of cabbage, is going to be preferable to the SAD of pure sugar and vegetable oil. This is no doubt why people think that 'more fruit, vegetables and healthy whole grains' is the be all and end all to health, eating some actual nutrients must be a big improvement over processed starch, spread with omega 6, with fructose and omega 6 for afters. Hence the limited 'successes' of Britain's own hideous macrobiotician, Gillian McKeith (who has a whole industry based around snatching people's sweets and giving them flax seeds instead).

The other thing to remember is that any-one health-engaged enough to be looking at 'macrobiotic' will likely be doing a tonne of other things focused on their health (a la Ornish's veritable lifestyle makeover). It's no surprise that people who are fanatically dedicated to [any diet at all] do better than some-one mindlessly eating the SAD.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 05, 2010
at 01:15 PM

Ugh, just looked up Gillian McKeith. Reminds me how politically correct nutrition is a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge problem for those of us dedicated to helping people eat healthier. Vegetables are well and good...but where are the calories going to come from? Certainly not lard or coconut oil...probably vegetable oil.

5cd18bfcafadc56292971e59f2f1faf6

(2475)

on March 05, 2010
at 07:01 PM

Great observation, David. That's why controlled studies are so important.

92894924b5d2a542a650f3f778f53535

(130)

on June 15, 2010
at 04:08 AM

Lol Gillian McKeith... "McKeith commenced legal action against [] Google, for linking to a critical website; Nutrition professor John Garrow, who questioned her nutrition research in a medical newsletter; Dr. Dorothy King for writing on a blog called PhDiva for questioning claims by nutritionists that mentioned McKeith." So basically don't question her credentials or anything she ever says, or MENTION anyone who has, right?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on January 16, 2012
at 03:02 AM

Gillian McKeith is soooo bad...she doesn't understand grade 10 biology, and has absolutely nothing but totally fake credentials. I doubt she's every cracked a biochemistry textbook in her life. After all the books she's written, pretty sure a grade-school class could beat her in a biology test.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on January 16, 2012
at 03:02 AM

+ McKeith's husband is a lawyer, she's pretty famous for suing anything and everything.

5
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 05, 2010
at 04:07 AM

One of my coworkers is a former macrobiotic adherent. She said it was a great way to become more health conscious, but she continued to have health problems andin the end she felt much better when she switched to a low-carb WAPF (Weston A. Price Foundation) diet. It's interesting because certain institutions used to be hard core macrobiotic, like NYC's Natural Gourmet. Now they are cooking up grassfed meat and even using the dreaded nightshades. Seems like people realized that eating a pile of brown rice is boring and not as nourishing as some might suppose.

On the other hand I very much like NYC's premier macrobiotic restaurant, Souen. I can easily order a paleo meal there if I stick with the fish and seaweed dishes. I love the emphasis on seaweed, but I also notice they use tons of garbage oils. The menu for their desserts brags that they only use safflower oil in them...ugh.

2
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on July 25, 2011
at 12:08 AM

I did quite well on it for a number of years, I believe now that it was due to the vast reduction in wheat consumed, and the addition of fermented foods. Eventually, I could no longer remain healthy on a vegetarian diet. It is way much better than SAD.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 15, 2012
at 07:49 PM

@Loon, I like the fact that you're being very objective about it. I remember the alarming reports of people nearly dying from macrobiotic diets but then you read that they were trying to live on nothing but rice. I believe you can be just as foolish on the ancestral lifestyle; we are meant to eat MANY foods, not just a few.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 16, 2012
at 02:02 AM

thanks Nance! I think some macro diets really aren't that much different than PHD, except it is brown rice instead of white. I think I would have been healthier for longer on it if I had included fish.

1
A3aec1d1b29debaca4cb62770e96c86b

on January 15, 2013
at 07:42 PM

I have attended Macrobiotic conferences and have met the top people in the field. They are healthy, robust, at any age. Plant based advocates such as Drs. Esselstyn, McDoughal, Ornish, Barnard are all lean and attractive. Low carb Gurus such as Atkins, Sears, etc. are all fat. Almost all of them.

Ec4fd2d625fd31d90a8d133991007cf7

(4)

on July 30, 2015
at 06:32 AM

So why do you choose to ignore Dean Ornish and Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson and the plethora of other people on paleo diets that are lean and strong

1
92894924b5d2a542a650f3f778f53535

(130)

on June 15, 2010
at 04:16 AM

I dormed with a kid that had been vegan macrobiotic for... Forever. He ate basically onions, squash, and broccoli fried in olive oil over brown rice or quinoa. Every single day. Ridiculously tall, but bone thin and completely emaciated. Slept for 12-14 hours every night, and could never seem to keep up with his coursework. Also, the toilet was a right mess. Didn't help that he would never clean it, but I wouldn't be surprised if he'd ever had a solid stool the entire 4 months. I met his Mum as well, she wasn't much better. Emaciated like he was, and her face was very aged for someone barely 40. She was also covered in peach fuzz as well, which I've read is a sign of deficiency of... Something or another.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on September 19, 2011
at 09:03 PM

This is not the model macro diet by any means!!!!! It's like saying someone is paleo if they go out for pizza several times a week, and then make a weekend meal of broccoli and grass-fed beef. Macro includes sea vegetables, miso soup, wide use of other fermented foods.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on January 16, 2012
at 03:05 AM

The "peach fuzz" is a response to low body fat- very dangerous, especially with women. Good thing she was done with child-birth, probably has lost her fertility by this point.

1
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on March 27, 2010
at 03:09 AM

of course not. Most micros and most vegatarians (really grainatarians, arent they?) seem to be the ones out sick the most at my job. Add fat and live healthy.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on September 19, 2011
at 09:05 PM

You are on to something here. I think if it was higher in the right fats, people would do better on it.

Medium avatar

(2923)

on January 15, 2012
at 09:10 PM

That's been my personal impression, macros and vegetarians look thin, but not healthy thin ("lean"?), whereas pictures of paleos/primals I've seen online look lean and healthy ... although they also tend to look a little feral :p

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on January 16, 2012
at 03:03 AM

Haha, like the "grainatarian"- I definitely eat more fresh food and veggies now than I did as a vegetarian.

1
Fa47fe5368e66325865f60a928609145

(961)

on March 06, 2010
at 05:27 PM

I've seen some kids who were fed a macrobiotic diet. They definitely had some growth issues, didn't look pretty...

0
B3f9c52a75acfaa8415ee6cb8cde83a3

on May 09, 2013
at 06:44 AM

A macrobiotic diet is generally vegetarian and consists largely of whole grains, cereals, and cooked vegetables. More extreme versions of the diet that consist solely of cooked whole grains are no longer promoted

0
B05959eaabfee80a000c81c0dc21bd53

on February 28, 2013
at 04:20 PM

I had been paleo (and I mean strict multi-veggie eating GOOD paleo, with fermented veggies and the whole bit) for approximately 6-9 months and feeling better than before when I had been on the SAD, way way better. BUT, still getting migraines and chronic hives seemingly inexplicably. I have begrudgingly gone macro for the last two weeks (begrudgingly not only because I LOVE meat and raw dairy, but because after all my extensive paleo reading it is HARD to put grains into my mouth) but guess what? I feel great. I hate to say it, but I do. I wanted to be proved wrong, and go back to my paleo ways, but I'm trying to listen more to my body, and I feel calmer, more positive, have boundless energy, and no tiny niggling headache or sinus pressure or itchiness threatening to ruin my day. I've read comments where people say people feel good on macro in the beginning and then start to feel worse, so maybe that will happen to me too. I think I have histamine issues which is why all the meat and broths and fermented veggies werent' working. Also, I'm not strict macro as I have had some (extremely fresh and organic) fish once a week, and yes, I've lost weight I didn't need to lose and am very concerned about not getting enough fat, but animal fats are not doing well by me right now. Anyway, my point is that maybe we are all different, and our bodies need different things at different times, and maybe neither paleo or macro or whatever is 100% always right for everyone all the time.

0
4d6aa1a676240b15dc569ff8ade0500f

(2546)

on January 16, 2012
at 03:33 PM

my mom goes through stints of the macrobiotic diet and swears by it. i tried it for a few weeks at one point and felt amazing --- i even lost 16 lbs in about a month. and at that point i was 180 and 5'8. it was definitely dramatic. the problem is that it is a very difficult life-style to maintain, and it's not particularly satisfying. i think if it weren't so much work, my mom would be on it all the time. she doesn't feel good eating meat, which is why she hasn't been able to adhere to the paleo diet despite my constant pleading. anyways, in my opinion a macrobiotic diet can work for some people, but it's a much harder lifestyle to maintain than others. there is for example no way to maintain a macrobiotic diet eating out.

0
C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

on January 16, 2012
at 01:59 AM

If by healthy, you mean "I gained twenty pounds and developed thyroid disease," then... Sorry to be snarky. That was the WORST food experiment I ever tried. It's taken me a decade to recover my health from the 2 years I was trying to eat healthfully as a macro.

Of course, all this is just my unscientific n=1.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 15, 2012
at 07:20 PM

I was born in utero Macrobiotic and then when I went to school I discovered a cookie, and chips and then went off of eating how I was raised. Since I have come back to Macrobiotics and was raised this way, i am undoubtedly healthy than everyone who is not this way. I have never been immunized and never had any serious illness. My daughter is also being raised Macrobiotic. She also is not immunized. She has gone to preschool and daycare and while all the other children are out sick with the flu, and measles, lice, etc. etc. she has not contracted a single one. Neither have I. It is disturbing to hear anyone talk badly about Macrobiotics because 100% of the individuals have no knowledge or wisdom in how this diet works. It is not a one size fits all, avoid certain foods etc. If you are going to take your health in your own hands be informed. Also I was on a mainstream Western diet for while, in which I ended up being on high risk for cervical cancer. It is only when I switched To Macrobiotics that I easily cured myself of all ailments. Not only are there health benefits, you look amazing and have higher level awareness..and can achieve true enlightenment. I go off Science, because science can be proven. Don't go off philosophies and ideologies, base your life off science. The doctors can tell you that something is wrong, but Macrobiotics explains WHY. I have attracted most everything I want in my life, and the times when I do not is when I am not living Macrobiotically. There is a difference of living from a guideline rather than being a strict psycho on a diet. Be realistic. Inform yourself, and don't take your health in your own hands..speak to people who have actually LIVED this way. My father cured himself of cancer, my step mom from anemia, etc. etc.do I know people and all from Macrobiotics. :D

45b329258fd72c31dc93b9afa9a74be3

(-2)

on January 25, 2015
at 12:01 PM

On "not one size fits all",as I understand, neither does macrobiotic imply vegetarian or even low animal product consumption, as people in thus discussion suggest. It depends on the person.

-2
A3aec1d1b29debaca4cb62770e96c86b

on August 24, 2011
at 04:26 AM

Many comments about Macrobiotics on this thread are totally incorrect. For example, eating onions, squash and broccoli fried in olive oil is not Macrobiotic. Macrobiotics uses a variety of whole grains, vegetables, beans, sea vegetables, teas, and some fruits, nuts and seeds. Cooking styles are varied, and food is eaten according to the seasons.It is not true that corn and wheat are not eaten, for all whole grains, and some noodles and limited processed grains are consumed as well.

The MAcrobiotic people that I know are among the healthiest, most robust individuals that I have encountered. Those that fail are not doing it correctly. It takes discipline and consistancy to succeed.

People all over the world, in all societies have eaten this way for thousands of years. Recent studies verify the superiority of a whole plant foods diet; Dr. T. Colin Campbell (The China Study) Dr. Mc Doughall, Dr. Esselstyn 9(who Clinton has followed) Dr. Ornish, Michio Kushi, and countless others.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on August 24, 2011
at 04:40 AM

Recent studies verify the superiority of a whole plant foods diet; Dr. T. Colin Campbell (The China Study) Dr. Mc Doughall, Dr. Esselstyn 9(who Clinton has followed) Dr. Ornish, Michio Kushi, and countless others. John you just made my night. Have you heard of someone named Denise Minger by any chance?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 24, 2011
at 02:27 PM

Are we trading anecdotes? I know a lot of macrobiotic people who are among the unhealthiest people I know and some who have gone paleo because their health declined on the diet. In the sci literature, there are numerous accounts of children getting rickets on macrobiotic diets. In case you haven't heard of Denise Minger, check out http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/07/07/the-china-study-fact-or-fallac/

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on September 19, 2011
at 09:06 PM

Corn and wheat usually are greatly limited just because they are usually consumed in flour form, and flours are minimized on a macro diet in favor of more intact grains.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on September 19, 2011
at 08:58 PM

I think both macro and paleo attract lots of unhealthy people because they want to improve their health. My health was greatly improved on the first few years on macro. I probably would have done better on it for longer had I eaten fish. I do think people who follow it strictly, but don't add too many nuts or sesame seed will do better longer and may be fine if they stay on it.

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