"Macrobiotics is the art and science of health and longevity through the study and understanding of the relation and interactions between ourselves, the foods we eat, the lifestyles we choose to lead, and the environments in which we live."
In other words, macrobiotics is a way of living that aims toward living longer and healthier, mostly by changing the way you eat (and what you eat).
The idea is that people are continually influenced by their environment, which includes the food they eat, their daily social interactions and the climate and geography in which they live. In short: everything you ingest, influences you. Macrobiotics consider sickness as the attempt of the body to return to harmony with the environment. The things people eat and drink and the way they live are the most important 'environmental' factors. By changing these you can improve your health.
Some traditional and basic macrobiotic practices include eating more whole grains, beans and fresh vegetables, increasing the variety in the food you eat, traditional cooking methods, eating regularly and less in quantity, chewing more and maintaining an active and positive outlook on life.
The macrobiotic diet
The macrobiotic diet is inspired by traditional Japanese cooking. The goal is to make whole grains 50% of your diet. A small part of this can consist of pasta, bread or noodles. 20 to 30% of your diet should be cooked vegetables (only a small amount raw as salad). Some vegetables should not be eaten at all (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, as these are nightshades, and spinach, peppers, beets and zucchini). It is important to base the food you eat on the climate you live in, so if you live in a temperate climate, you should not eat tropical fruits. 5 - 10 % of your diet should consist of beans and sea vegetables, 5 - 10 % of soups. You can eat fish, fruit, nuts and vinegar occasionally. Meat, animal fat, dairy, eggs, hot spices and alcohol should not be taken at all, and all foods should be as natural as possible: organically grown, untreated (not frozen, preserved or refined).
The macrobiotic lifestyle
The macrobiotic lifestyle also much concentrates on eating. You should eat only when hungry, drink only when thirsty, chew thoroughly and pay attention to eating (no more dinners in front of the television, kids! No more television, period. Those rays aren't good for you). Clothing should be made of natural fibres (preferably cotton), especially underwear, regular exercise is recommended as well as spending lots of time outdoors. Food should be prepared in a natural way (no electric cooking devices or microwave ovens). There are many more recommendations, most of which amount to living as naturally as possible.
The macrobiotic lifestyle, if followed in moderation and with a dose of common sense, is probably beneficial to your health: the diet is rich in vitamins and fibre and low on fat and sugar. Like all diets, however, if taken to extremes (as some people do) it can lead to deficiencies of important nutrients.
Macrobiotics is based on the concept of yin and yang. There are seven universal principles of the order of the universe and twelve theorems of change of the infinite universe that form the basis of the macrobiotic philosophy.
The seven principles are:
- Everything is a differentiation of One Infinity.
- Everything changes.
- All antagonisms are complementary.
- There is nothing identical.
- What has a front has a back.
- The bigger the front, the bigger the back.
- What has a beginning has an end.
The twelve theorems are:
- One Infinity manifests itself into complementary and antagonistic tendencies, yin and yang, in its endless change.
- Yin and yang are manifested continuously from the eternal movement of One Infinite Universe.
- Yin represents centrifugality. Yang represents centripetality. Yin and yang together produce energy and all phenomena.
- Yin attracts yang. Yang attracts yin.
- Yin repels yin. Yang repels yang.
- Yin and yang combined in varying proportions produce different phenomena. The attraction and repulsion among phenomena is proportional to the difference of the yin and yang forces.
- All phenomena are ephemeral, constantly changing their constitution of yin and yang forces; yin changes into yang, yang changes into yin.
- Nothing is solely yin or solely yang. Eveything is composed of both tendencies in varying degrees.
- There is nothing neuter. Either yin or yang is in excess in every occurrence.
- Large yin attracts small yin. Large yang attracts small yang.
- Extreme yin produces yang, and extreme yang produces yin.
- All physical manifestations are yang at the center, and yin at the surface.