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Macrobiotic Diet-Health Benefits & Side Effects

A macrobiotic diet focuses on consuming natural foods, mainly vegetables and whole grains, to live a long happy life.

This diet was developed by George Ohsawa, a Japanese philosopher. According to him, we can live in harmony with nature by eating a simple and healthy diet.

Therefore, this diet aims to remove foods from the diet that may add toxins to the body. For instance, meat, dairy, and oils. Additionally, this diet has rigid rules on how you should cook your food.

People who are following claim that it is beneficial against cancer and other diseases. But there is no strong study to back up this claim.

The macrobiotic diet plans can be different depending upon certain factors. These factors include

  • Gender
  • Region and Environment
  • Age
  • Health Condition
  • Daily Activity

Things You Eat In a Macrobiotic Diet

Whole grains, vegetables, and beans are the main part of this diet. Also, whatever you eat should be properly chewed till it reaches liquid consistency. This allows for better digestion.

Whole Grains

Approximately 50-60% of the portion comes from whole grains. Whole grains such as brown rice, oats, rye, millet, corn, and barley are generally recommended for regular use.

Whole grain products, like noodles, crackers, pasta, and tortilla are advised to be taken occasionally.

Also Read: Top Protein-Rich Grains According To Food Experts


Vegetables cover-up about 30% of this diet. The good thing is that there is a wide range of vegetables you can choose from. Therefore, if you are a vegetarian or just love veggies, you might have no problem switching to this diet.

Some of the vegetables to add to your menu includes

  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Broccoli
  • Turnips
  • Pumpkin
  • Parsley
  • Scallions
  • Watercress

However, some vegetables could only be taken occasionally. These includes:

  • Celery
  • Corn on cob
  • Mushroom
  • Romaine and Iceberg Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Squash
  • Beets
  • Shitake

Beans And Sea Vegetables

Beans and Sea vegetables make up 5-10% of this diet. You can regularly consume sea veggies such as agar, kombu, kelp, nori, and wakame.

Other than that, you can choose from beans and bean products like,

  • Chickpeas
  • Brown and Green Lentils
  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh

Beans like soybean, red lentils, kidney, split peas, and pinto beans should only be used occasionally.

Also Read: Is Brown Rice Healthier Than White Rice? Health Benefits Of Brown Rice


The use of the right type of drink is also emphasized during this diet. The general recommendation is to drink organic brews and teas. Such as maske, roasted barley tea, roasted rice tea, and bancha tea.

Green tea, apple cider or juice, veggie juice, and seed milk can also be consumed sometimes.

It is also best to use water from natural sources, such as spring or well water, rather than the one in bottles.

Also Read: Best Healthy Juices To Buy According To Food Experts

Other Foods

Although, a macrobiotic diet restricts the use of food other than the ones mentioned above. There are few diet plans that allow you to consume other foods as well but in a rare amount.

These foods mainly include

  • Temperate climate fruits
  • Almonds, chestnuts, peanuts, pecans, chestnuts, and walnuts
  • Pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds
  • Clams, Shrimps, and Oysters
  • Rice cakes and popcorn

Things You Avoid Eating In a Macrobiotic Diet

Even though a macrobiotic diet allows rare consumption of meat, dairy, and poultry, some foods are completely forbidden. They are not allowed even in small quantities. Otherwise, they will ruin the whole base of this diet.

These foods range from certain types of veggies to the kind of beverages you choose. Starchy vegetables, peppers, eggplants, and high-sugar veggies are not acceptable. Similarly, tropical fruits and their juices aren’t allowed.

Other than these, the following foods are a no-go in the macrobiotic diet:

  • Refined carbs
  • Baked food and yeast
  • Oily fish
  • Nuts like cashew, macadamia, and pistachio
  • Alcohol and Wine
  • Caffeine rich drinks
  • Herbal Teas
  • Distilled and tap water
  • Sodas
  • Sugary foods
  • Spicy food

Macrobiotic Diet And Health

Since this diet involves heavy use of vegetables, it may prevent certain diseases. These can include cancer, diabetes, and heart ailments.

The regular followers of this diet claim that it prevents and cures cancer. However, there is no scientific evidence to back up such strong claims.

Therefore, people with cancer should not jump into this diet with the belief that it is some kind of magical cure. Never skip a proper treatment from experts in severe cases

It might do more harm than good. For example, the excessive reliance of this diet on vegetables may create some nutritional deficiencies.

Moreover, some of the diet plans in this diet restrict the use of meat, fruits, and nuts. This effectively takes away important nutrients like proteins, minerals, and vitamins from the body.

But this diet may still be effective in managing diabetes. Because the consumption of sugary products is limited in this diet. Therefore, it may help in maintaining a healthy blood sugar level.

Furthermore, the increased intake of fiber foods can improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Starting Macrobiotic Diet

Before jumping into this diet, you must get rid of the notion that it will prevent or cure cancer.

It is also advisable to consult your dietitian, doctor, or other experts if you have any underlying health problems. Since this diet brings a drastic change to your lifestyle.

Moreover, instead of doing it randomly on your own, it is best that you seek the opinion of a practitioner.

You will also need to a few changes to your kitchen. There is no room for use of plastic jars and container on this diet. So, throw them out and replace them with glass or stainless steel.

Additionally, your cookware should be made up of stainless steel, glass, ceramic or enamel pots, and wood. The use of electricity and microwave for cooking is also not suggested, so you need to find alternate methods.

Furthermore, your grocery will mainly include organic and locally grown food. This may prove difficult and expensive for some people, depending upon their region.

Side Effects Of Macrobiotic Diet

Although this diet promises to improve health, there are many downfalls of following it.

As mentioned earlier, this diet only allows certain food groups. Therefore, it is easy to get a nutrition deficiency if this diet is not done correctly. These include protein, vitamin B-12, iron, and calcium deficiencies. One cannot use vitamins and mineral supplements to overcome these deficiencies since they are not allowed.

Moreover, this diet is not suitable for children and expecting mothers. A child not getting proper nutrition may end up with weak bones or stunted growth.

In addition, this diet can be difficult for those who enjoy caffeine and fresh juices. Another downfall is this diet’s reliance on high sodium foods which are not the best food option.

Furthermore, the cooking rules in this diet may not be feasible for everyone. Cooking with electricity or a microwave oven isn’t advisable. Also, your cooking environment should be calm, soothing, and tranquil.


A macrobiotic diet is a good approach if you want to start healthy eating. Especially for diabetics and heart patients. However, it may cause deficiencies if not done properly.

Also, remember that this diet is not the same as a vegetarian or vegan diet. Since most modern practitioners add some amount of meat or meat products to the diet plan.

Lastly, do not start this diet as a cure or replacement for traditional therapy for cancer. It is best to approach the experts rather than risking your health.

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